Home & Living

What is the difference between arborists vs tree surgeons vs tree loppers and how to become one?

When it comes to the care of your plants and trees, you will want to be sure that they are in the right hands. Properly looked after gardens are a true pleasure, while those that are allowed to fall into disease and decay can be an utter nightmare. 

If you need tree care you may be told to call an arborist, a tree surgeon, or a tree lopper, but are these terms as interchangeable as they might seem and which should you go for? Here we will take a look at each of these jobs and help you find the best one for all of your tree and plant needs.

What is an arborist?

An arborist is a specialist in the field of tree care and maintenance. They are fully trained and experienced not only in how to remove trees or even how to prune them but in tree health and growth, and how to improve the health as well as the appearance of trees.

Arborists work to keep trees and plants safe for people and structures including power lines and so on, removing what is necessary and taking care of what isn’t. They are thoroughly trained, fully certified, and have all the experience needed to make the calls and take any action that is required.

How to become an arborist? 

You can become an arborist by getting your basic qualifications, and then entering a company that will continue your training. Often you will be able to become certified after you get a job, though having certain qualifications may make it easier for you to find a job in the first place.

There are all kinds of training that you may have to do including the proper ways to climb, work with heights, and with all the tools of the trade. A good arborist has knowledge and understanding of all types of trees and knows what to recommend to see them at their healthiest and best.

Some places require an arborist’s license while others have degrees in horticulture or similar fields, but most will require on-the-job training to get you to the standard required of a full arborist. Arborists Lakeside Trees and Stumps in Perth, for example, pride themselves on the training and standards of their arborists in caring for the environment and trees in their area far beyond simply lopping off branches.

What is a tree surgeon?

A tree surgeon once again cares for trees, cutting and pruning at parts that need to be removed and even cutting down whole trees as required. The name is often used interchangeably with arborists, but it is not the same level of title and experience.

Tree surgeons may have a great deal of training, and work closely with arborists to take care of plants, but they don’t require any formal training to be worthy of the name, and so should be taken with a pinch of salt. 

Tree surgeons often won’t be licensed, and won’t have the training to diagnose ill plants and correctly treat them in a nuanced and careful way. Though more skilled than a tree lopper, a tree surgeon will still be more likely to cut down a tree than cure it in many situations.

How to become a tree surgeon?

You can become a tree surgeon following the completion of your general education by getting a job and working to learn all that you can. Degrees and other qualifications aren’t truly necessary, but can really help you to learn and advance.

Once again many jobs will involve plenty of hands-on training to get you up to the standards of their company, with many tree surgeons trained to know a lot about plants. The big difference between them and arborists is that this knowledge and training might vary across the industry for tree surgeons, while arborists must know what they are doing every time.

What is a tree lopper? 

A tree lopper is an untrained and uncertified person, who offers to cut down trees for you anyway. They often charge much less than those truly trained to do the job, and this can endear them to people, but going with a tree lopper isn’t always the best plan.

They are named after the tool of the same name, which resembles pruning shears with long handles. They are basically a type of scissors used to cut and prune and are a useful and large tool to use in the garden.

Tree loppers can come and more quickly and cheaply chop down your tree, but they don’t always take into account the tree’s health and healing abilities when pruning them. When cutting down trees, there is a limit to how much damage an untrained hand can do, but with living trees they can cause all kinds of problems.

You may think that you are saving in the short term, but poorly pruned trees can grow back in an unsightly way, they can produce too many offshoots that can look bad and even be dangerous, and of course, the tree can die.

How to become a tree lopper?

There is no real trick to becoming a tree lopper, you simply need the right equipment to cut down or prune trees and you can get started. However, once again the damage that you can cause can be truly severe, so proper training and expertise are thoroughly recommended. 

Don’t take any shortcuts in your professional career, or get drawn in by the lower prices as a customer. Only a properly trained arborist or tree surgeon should be brought in to care for your plants.



The terms arborist, tree surgeon and tree lopper are not synonyms for the same job. People calling themselves tree loppers are more likely to be untrained and can cause serious harm to your trees. A tree surgeon may have more knowledge and expertise, but if you are in any doubt and want to get the best job done, make sure you hire a proper arborist for all your tree care needs.

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