Blog Post By Jona Elwell

In Honor of Labor Day: Jobs in Arboriculture

In honor of Labor Day (a creation of the labor movement dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers) this past weekend, we put together some potential career options for those interested in trees and arboriculture. There are endless ways to get involved – one of the reasons our field is so awesome!

Before we dive into jobs, some history:

Interestingly enough, there are competing origin stories for Labor Day, but P. J. McGuire, of the American Federation of Labor, is often recognized as the father of Labor Day in the States. Apparently, on May 8, 1882, he proposed to the fledgling Central Labor Union of New York that a day be set aside for a “general holiday for the laboring classes”. The first Monday in September was selected as an ideal day, thanks to its optimum weather and the date’s place on the calendar, sitting midway between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving public holidays. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day.

Without further ado, a smattering of potential jobs in Arboriculture:

PS just so we’re all on the same page – an arborist is a professional who cares for trees and other woody plants by pruning, fertilizing, monitoring for insects and diseases, consulting on tree-related issues, and occasionally planting, transplanting and removing trees. Arboriculture is the cultivation, management, and study of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants.

Brendan, Urban Forester and Arborist, double checks a planting plan at a Community Tree Planting.

Nonprofit Aboriculture (That’s us!)
The beauty of working for a nonprofit is you can dedicate your skills to a holistic mission. Depending on the organization and your background, you could work with homeowners, other organizations, government entities, schools, and other community groups. Your work may involve working with those groups in any capacity from planning plantings, offering advice and expertise, advocating for trees, researching your urban forest, and anything else it takes to keep the organization on track towards its mission.

Commercial Arboriculture
Commercial arborists, plant, prune, cable, fertilize, inspect, protect during construction, reduce impacts of pest damage, and remove trees.

Municipal Arboriculture
Municipal, or “urban” foresters manage trees and green spaces owned by cities. This aspect of arboriculture deals mainly with trees along streets and boulevards, city parks and around public buildings. Urban foresters provide services similar to those provided by commercial arborists but also develop and enforce tree ordinances.

Utility Arboriculture
Utility arboriculture is more than just electrical line clearance to prevent power outages. It also involves planning tree maintenance, awarding contracts, and inspecting the work performed. Utility arborists work with property owners to teach them about the need for proper tree maintenance near utility lines. They also advise customers on tree species that are suitable for planting near power lines.

Sophie, Research Associate, works on our Science & Policy team and collects all kinds of data throughout the city.

Private Consulting
Consulting arborists provide clients with information on diagnosing plant health, appraising plants for value, and other issues. As a consulting arborist, you may be contracted by homeowners, insurance companies, municipalities, lawyers, planners, developers, landscape architects, or others.

There are opportunities in many aspects of arboricultural research. Universities, arboreta, nonprofits and larger companies are the main employers of tree care researchers.

Interested in bringing your talents to our beloved nonprofit? We’re hiring – see if you’re a good fit. Have some skills but want to learn more without a major life or career overhaul? The Team Leader Training is a great place to start or enhance your arboriculture journey! It all kicks off tomorrow!

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