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Tree Surgeon Qualifications Required to Start Trading

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There are no mandatory qualifications required to trade a tree surgeon, but it is strongly recommended to have specialist tree surgeon qualifications and extensive experience in the sector.

General Qualifications to Become a Tree Surgeon

GCSEs are always helpful to have. It would help you get onto an introductory course which in time will help you find work.

You can also study towards a higher education qualification such as HND or degree. In that case, you will usually need 5 GCSEs (maths, science, English and 3 A-levels). The best thing to do is to check directly with universities for the exact entry requirements. For more information, visit the UCAS website.

Examples of relevant courses include:

  • Arboriculture
  • Forestry
  • Countryside / Forest Management
  • Woodland conservation

Local colleges offer a variety of qualifications and training courses that will help you find work as a tree surgeon.

Arboricultural & Tree Surgeon Qualifications:

Having qualifications can indicate that you have a certain knowledge of tree care that is more technical than just having practical skills. There are different qualifications available and you can choose which one is best for you depending on what you are trying to specialise in.

RFS Cert Arb

You can obtain a Certificate in Arboriculture (Level 2) from the Royal Forestry Society via approved training centres. This qualification will prove that the holder has good theoretical knowledge of arboriculture and tree care, including tree inspections, common laws applying to trees, tree surgery operations and woody plants physiology.

ISA Certified Arborist

Individuals can choose to get a qualification as an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist. This qualification shows a level of technical understanding equivalent to QCF level 2 and differs from other qualifications that it requires individuals to undertake ongoing education and maintain their certification up to date.

City and Guilds Phase II

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City & Guilds approved centres can deliver a Certificate in Arboriculture assessing both practical skills and technical knowledge. You can find more details on the City & Guilds website. This qualification is equivalent to QCF level 2 – 3.

NC / ND (Arb)

The National Certificate and National Diploma are two or three-year full-time course involving both practical skills and technical knowledge. They lead to a qualification equivalent to QCF level 3.

tree surgeon qualifications

ABC Cert Arb L4

Formerly the Arboricultural Association Technician’s Certificate (AA Tech Cert) and now administered by ABC Awards, this qualification is an intermediate level (equivalent QCF Level 4) demonstrating significant technical knowledge and is aimed at supervisors, tree inspectors and technicians.


The Higher National Certificate and Higher National Diploma are two to three-year full-time courses with a more technical focus. The HNC is equivalent to QCF level 4 qualification and the HND is at QCF level 5. The HND has now been largely replaced by the Foundation Degree in Science.

PD Arb (RFS)

The Royal Forestry Society Professional Diploma is a high-level, technical qualification indicating considerable knowledge in a wide range of areas. It is a QCF level 6 qualification and is now administered by ABC Awards. The name commonly used for this qualification is now Level 6 Diploma in Arboriculture.

There is a helpful summary of all tree surgeon qualifications on the Arboricultural Association website. Check what is available close to you and choose your courses depending on what you want to specialise in. A qualified tree surgeon will always find work more easily and can be a warranty of quality for the clients.

Looking for more information on training? Check out our tree surgery training page!

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