An arboriculturist is a specialist in the cultivation, care and maintenance of trees, shrubs and hedges. She may also be called a tree surgeon, arboriculture officer or arboriculturist consultant. Her job responsibilities are typically more involved and demanding than those of an arborist, who normally works under the supervision of an arboriculturist. A person with this job may work for privately owned gardens or parks or for woodlands, parks or recreation areas under the jurisdiction of a particular vicinity or region.
A person in this position may specialize in a certain area of arboriculture, such as tree inspection, preservation or maintenance. More commonly, an arboriculturist is required to perform a variety of job functions related to trees and their maintenance. Largely due to the heightened environmental concerns of the past few decades, the job often commonly centers more on tree care than on tree removal or surgery. Developments in tree biology, propagation and care have also created new approaches to the industry.
Before an arboriculturist can implement a solid plan to care for trees, she is commonly required to conduct an analysis of the trees in her care. She normally prepares a spreadsheet that lists how many of each tree species she has and the specific needs of each variety including pruning and fertilization requirements. She also regularly notes the most common threats to each type, including pests, weather conditions and diseases. Her examination of the trees in her care also typically includes analyzing the soil content and condition to determine their appropriateness and implement necessary changes.
If she receives notice that trees in her care are causing hazards through exposed roots or precariously hanging branches, she is ordinarily required to physically investigate the situation and recommend solutions. She is also regularly called upon to consult on how best to resolve complaints of trees blocking light and vistas. If falling limbs or root growth has caused property damage or personal injuries, an arboriculturist is often called upon for her expert opinion by mediators and insurance companies. Preparing bids and estimates of tree pruning and removal may also be a normal part of her job.
A successful arboriculturist normally has a proclivity for the outdoors and is free of height phobias. She is customarily expected to have strong scientific knowledge of trees and their growth as well as an understanding of the principles of civil engineering and construction. The ability to read and interpret maps is a highly desirable skill for this job as well. Attention to detail and good communication skills are ordinarily required to properly write reports and maintain records.
No educational requirements other than a high school diploma or equivalent are typically necessary for this job. Coursework in horticulture, biology or plant sciences may be a plus for applicants. Many companies and agencies also offer on-the-job training for arboriculturist and arborist positions.