What Does an Arborist or Utility Arborist Do?

Arborists (444A), also called tree care specialists or tree service technicians, maintain healthy trees and treat or remove injured and diseased trees.

A Utility Arborist (444B) is a person who removes and prunes woody plants or trees in proximity to electrical apparatus.

Job Related Skills, Values and Interests


  • analyzing, evaluating and diagnosing a wide variety of woody plants for disease or disorder
  • preparing recommendations for treatment and written estimates of cost 
  • selecting and using treatment applications that may include use of pesticides, biological controls, cabling, pruning, transplanting or tree removal
  • repairing splitting or broken limbs or branches and other tree wounds
  • operating and maintaining safety equipment, and both manual and power tools including chainsaws, specialized pruning equipment and spraying equipment
  • working independently or as a team member, in work that requires concentration and physical effort

Utility Arborist

  • maintains aerial devices such as chainsaws, chainsaws and operates a chipper
  • controls underbrush that is in proximity to electrical devices.
  • clears away vegetation that is close to transmission voltage conductors

You may find additional information about this trade and applicable standards at the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) website – follow this sector link:http://www.collegeoftrades.ca/membership/resources/training-standards


What Preparation and Training Do You Need?

To become an Arborist you must complete Grade 12 or equivalent (GED or ACE), preferably with  Math and English to meet the requirements of the job. Related in-school technical programs, co-op programs and other pre-apprenticeship courses are an advantage. You should complete an apprenticeship of approximately 5400 hours as well as two 12 weeks sessions of in-school. You must also successfully complete the required examinations and hours of employment in order to be awarded a Journeyperson certificate.

To become a Utility Arborist you must complete grade12 or equivalent (GED or ACE), and will likely have to meet particular Math and English requirements.  An apprentice utility Arborist will have to complete 5340 hours of on-the-job training and 2 blocks of in-school training (2 - 12 week sessions).

This is the current minimum to be apprenticed in this trade under the (OCTAA) Ontario College of Trades Apprenticeship Act (2009). Please note that minimum entry requirements to this and other trades are currently under review by the Ontario College of Trades.

You may benefit from enroling in an Agricultural Specialist High Skills Major program. For more information, please visit the following link:


What’s Your Future as an Arborist or Utility Arborist?

Most workers in this occupation work full-time, outdoors, with many hours in peak seasons or after storms and other emergencies. Employers in Southern Ontario that may employ Arborists include:

  • Private residential or commercial landscape management companies
  • Tree nurseries
  • Tree care contractors
  • Municipal governments
  • National or Provincial parks departments
  • Utility companies

Wage Rate

  • the wage rates for Arborists and Utility Arborists are quite similar and fall within the same range.
  • apprentices usually start at a wage rate less than  that of a journeyperson
  • this rate increases gradually as you gain competency and skill
  • Fully qualified Arborists can earn anywhere from $15.00/ hour to $26.00/ hour, sometimes with employee benefits and opportunities for overtime


Ask Yourself: Is working as a Arborist/Utility Arborist for You?

Do you enjoy learning about plant material and putting that knowledge to use?

Yes      No

Are you physically able to climb and descend trees using safety equipment?

Yes      No

Do you enjoy analyzing problems and coming up with solutions?

Yes      No

Can you communicate effectively verbally and in writing?

Yes      No

Are you careful about safety on the job - yours and other's?

Yes      No

Are you able to complete a task as planned while minding workplace hazards and dangers?

Yes      No

If you answered yes to most of these questions, a career as an Arborist or Utility Arborist may be for you!

You may want to explore other jobs that require similar interests and skills, such as:

  • Horticultural Technician
  • Industrial Woodworker
  • Carpenter 


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