The terms ‘Arborist’ and ‘Tree Surgeon’ are both common within the tree services industry. We see a lot of confusion from customers and from those who would like to get involved in the industry. The terms appear to be used interchangeably which leads people into thinking there is little or no distinction.
In the UK ‘Tree Surgeon’ is used more often than it is by our counterparts in the states. There does however seem to be a trend away from ‘Tree Surgeon’ and towards the use of ‘Arborist’. We would like to help you distinguish between the two titles and to understand that the title isn’t always a useful measure of expertise.
Arborist and Tree Surgeons – Definitions
According to the Cambridge dictionary a tree surgeon is “a person whose job is to take care of trees and make sure that they are healthy and safe, for example by cutting off branches that are damaged”
And an Arborist is….well they are given the exact same definition. That doesn’t really clear much up.
Whilst the official definition may not vary there is some variance within the industry.
An Arborist is generally thought of as someone with a higher level of understanding about the diagnosis and care for a trees health. There are certain certifications, qualifications and affiliations that confer a higher degree of expertise and that is often associated with the title ‘Arborist’. However, this title isn’t a protected one and much like ‘Tree Surgeon’ can be used by anyone.
Tree Surgeons – Cowboys or Professionals?
Tree surgeons are often painted with a certain brush. There is an image put forth of tree surgeons as unprofessional or ‘cowboys’. This isn’t always a fair characterization. There are many who use the title ‘Tree Surgeon’ who provide a high quality service (such as ourselves – although we use both titles).
In reality a tree surgeon can be professional or unprofessional, as such they should be judged individually. A good tree surgeon and a bad tree surgeon have less in common than a Tree Surgeon and an Arborist.
This can make the tree surgery field a landmine. Another day we will discuss how to pick a good tree surgeon (or arborist) to help you out. For the time being, don’t give too much credence to titles.