California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Tree Trimmers and Pruners in San Diego County

May also be called: Arborists; and Tree Climbers

What Would I Do?

Tree Trimmers and Pruners cut away damaged, dead, or excess branches from trees or shrubs to clear roads, sidewalks, or utility equipment. They trim trees to limit their size, for visual reasons, or to make fruit and nut harvesting easier. This helps to maintain and improve their appearance, health, and value. Tree Trimmers and Pruners may also cut down and remove entire trees.

Some Tree Trimmers and Pruners specialize in diagnosing and treating diseased and infested trees or shrubs. If the trees or shrubs show no improvement from the treatments, they are usually removed. Tree Trimmers and Pruners may also focus their attention on preventive measures by keeping trees healthy and strong through pruning, fertilization, and proper watering methods.

Tree Trimmers and Pruners may select and plant new trees and shrubs according to the Hardiness Zone Map. This map indicates what types of plants and trees will flourish and grow in a particular area. They may remove or transplant trees or shrubs to other areas that are better suited for their growth. During spring and winter weather conditions, Tree Trimmers and Pruners are busy removing cracked or damaged branches and trees that pose a safety threat.

Tree Trimmers and Pruners perform other duties, such as driving trucks, operating and maintaining equipment, and collecting debris and placing it in piles. They may also talk to the public about tree care and maintenance.

Tree Trimmers and Pruners should be aware of nesting birds. There are federal and state laws that protect native and endangered birds. If they are disturbed during the nesting season citations and fines may be issued. As defined by the California Department of Fish and Game, the nesting season is between February 1 and August 15. Companies involved in large projects that involve trimming and removing trees usually hire a biologist to conduct field surveys of nesting birds in the area prior to starting the job.

Tools and Technology

Tree Trimmers and Pruners use a variety of tools, including aerial lift devices, chain saws, climbing ropes, ladders, lopping and pruning shears, pole tree pruners, safety harnesses, and wood chippers.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Operate boom trucks, loaders, stump chippers, brush chippers, tractors, power saws, trucks, sprayers, and other equipment and tools.Operation and Control
Climb trees, using climbing hooks and belts, or climb ladders to gain access to work areas.Extent Flexibility
Clean, sharpen, and lubricate tools and equipment.Mechanical
Cut away dead and excess branches from trees, or clear branches around power lines, using climbing equipment or buckets of extended truck booms, and/or chainsaws, hooks, handsaws, shears, and clippers.Multilimb Coordination
Trim, top, and reshape trees to achieve attractive shapes or to remove low-hanging branches.Arm-Hand Steadiness
Prune, cut down, fertilize, and spray trees as directed by tree surgeons.Information Ordering
Load debris and refuse onto trucks and haul it away for disposal.Dynamic Strength
Inspect trees to determine if they have diseases or pest problems.Biology
Provide information to the public regarding trees, such as advice on tree care.Customer and Personal Service
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Tree Trimmers and Pruners work outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. Their work also consists of climbing trees using a safety harness or an aerial lift device to remove branches or tree tops. Tree Trimmers and Pruners work at varying heights depending upon the type and age of the tree. They should be in good physical condition and be able to lift more than 25 pounds. They may risk suffering injuries from tools or falls; however, risks are usually minimized by following proper safety procedures. In addition, Tree Trimmers and Pruners who trim trees around power lines are required by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to complete an Electrical Hazards Awareness Program (EHAP). Most work 40 hours a week; however, they may be called into work at any time due to fallen trees and limbs.

Unionization is not common in this occupation. However, Tree Trimmers and Pruners who work for government agencies usually join a union.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Tree Trimmer and Pruner may appeal to those who enjoy working outside and tackling practical, hands-on problems and solutions. In addition, those who are knowledgeable about trees may also like this type of work.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages

The median wage in 2016 for Tree Trimmers and Pruners in California is $36,568 annually, or $17.58 hourly. The median wage for Tree Trimmers and Pruners in San Diego County is $29,470 annually, or $14.16 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$28,859$36,568$48,468
San Diego County$27,441$29,470$31,500
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

Benefit packages vary widely by company. Tree Trimmers and Pruners working for government agencies usually receive benefits such as health and life insurance, vacation, sick leave, holidays, and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

Additional Tree Trimmers and Pruners are expected to be needed to keep up with the growing demand for tree trimming services from institutions, individual homeowners, and utility companies. However, like many occupations, employment may be sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Tree Trimmers and Pruners is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Tree Trimmers and Pruners are expected to increase by 9.1 percent, or 700 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

In San Diego County, the number of Tree Trimmers and Pruners is expected to grow faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Tree Trimmers and Pruners are expected to increase by 26.5 percent, or 90 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Tree Trimmers and Pruners
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Replacements
California
(2014-2024)
7,7008,4007009.11,400
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
3404309026.580
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 70 new job openings per year is expected for Tree Trimmers and Pruners, plus an additional 140 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 210 job openings.

In San Diego County, an average of 10 new job openings per year is expected for Tree Trimmers and Pruners, plus an additional 8 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 18 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Tree Trimmers and Pruners
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
California
(2014-2024)
70140210
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
10818
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Many employers prefer to hire individuals with a high school diploma or general education diploma (GED). Entry-level Tree Trimmers and Pruners generally receive on-the-job training by working with an experienced worker or supervisor. Their duties are almost the same as an experienced worker, such as clearing brush, loading and unloading trucks, and operating the wood chipper. However, additional training and supervision, including proper safety procedures, are required for climbing trees or using the aerial lift device. Most experienced Tree Trimmers and Pruners have not had any formal training. They have learned their trade from on-the-job training, many years of experience, and knowledge of tree care. Employers also prefer workers to have a valid California Driver License and their own safety gear and tools. In addition, tree identification skills are very helpful.

Experience

The amount and type of work experience required varies by company. However, most employers prefer at least two years of tree trimming/climbing experience.

Early Career Planning

High school students planning to become a Tree Trimmer and Pruner should take courses in basic mathematics, biology, earth science, English, and wood and metal shop.

Continuing Education

While continuing education is not required for Tree Trimmers and Pruners, those who are certified tree workers or arborists will need to take continuing education units every three years. In addition, Tree Trimmers and Pruners who possess other types of certifications, such as CPR/First Aid, may also need to take continuing education.

Licensing and Certification

Employees work under the license of the employer or contractor. Those wishing to enter self-employment as a Tree Service Limited Specialty Contractor must obtain a license through the Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State License Board. Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information. Click on the license title below for details.

Some certifications may be required for Tree Trimmers and Pruners, such as Tree Workers or Arborists. To become a Certified Tree Worker, the individual must be at least 19.5 years old, have a minimum of 18 months of full-time field experience in arboriculture, and take a written exam and practical skills evaluation. To become a Certified Arborist, a minimum of 3 years of full-time experience in arboriculture, or other applicable education and experience, plus a written exam. Additional information and requirements for these certifications may be found at the Western Chapter International Society of Arboriculture at www.wcisa.net. Other certifications, such as CPR/First Aid, may also be required by the employer. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Tree Trimmers and Pruners are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Services to Buildings and Dwellings 63.1%
Local Government 5.9%
State Government 1.3%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers is one of the most effective job search methods. Newspaper classified ads, Internet job listings, and word of mouth also provide helpful local job leads. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Tree Trimmers and Pruners.

  • Tree
  • Tree Removal
  • Tree Service
  • Tree Trimming

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

As Tree Trimmers and Pruners gain experience, they may become supervisors or managers. Some Tree Trimmers may start their own business by obtaining a Tree Service Limited Specialty Contractor license from the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State License Board.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Tree Trimmers and Pruners with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
Guide
Industry
Report
Occupational
Profile
Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural AnimalsProfile
Landscaping and Groundskeeping WorkersGuide

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification37-3013
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Tree Trimmers and Pruners37-3013.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)REC