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What Does a Tree Trimmer Do?

A tree trimmer prunes trees and shrubs for looks, health of the plants and safety.
Trees may need to be trimmed when they grow too tall or wide.
A tree trimmer uses special equipment to keep landscape trees shaped.
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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2014
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A tree trimmer is a landscaping expert who prunes trees to promote aesthetics, tree health, and safety. He or she uses a number of specialized hand and power tools to cut, trim, shape and dispose of tree branches. While the majority of work can be done on ladders, trimming very tall trees often requires workers to use bucket trucks and climbing equipment. Most tree trimmers work for municipal government organizations or specialized tree-trimming companies, though some skilled professionals are self-employed.

Professionals who work for private companies often provide services to home and business owners on a contract basis. Working alone or in crews, tree trimmers usually visit a prospective job site to identify what needs to be done, decide how long it will take, and provide a cost estimate. Small trees can usually be trimmed with the aid of a ladder, handsaws, cutters, and chainsaws. After a job, the crew clears away the debris to either feed it through a wood chipper or haul it to an appropriate dumping location.

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A tree trimmer who is employed by a city organization is responsible for maintaining trees in public areas and removing unsafe branches from buildings, streets, or power lines. A member of a trimming crew may need to ride in a motorized bucket on the back of a truck that can be hoisted upward to reach high branches. Climbing hooks, ropes, hoists, and belts are needed when scaling trees that cannot be reached by other measures. Workers take extra care when cutting around streets and power lines to avoid potentially serious accidents.

A person who wants to become a tree trimmer can usually find work if he or she holds a high school diploma. Previous experience in landscaping jobs can be helpful in landing jobs, but most employers will hire people without experience as long as they are honest, hardworking, and physically fit enough to perform the duties of the job. An entry-level tree trimmer in a city organization or private business usually acts as an assistant or apprentice to more experienced workers for a few weeks or months to learn the trade firsthand. New tree trimmers who show competence in assistant positions are eventually assigned independent projects. In addition, trimmers in many regions must pass certification exams or training courses to prove their knowledge of safety procedures.

There is usually ample room for advancement in tree-trimming jobs. With time and proven skills, city workers may have the chance to become lead trimmers, managers, or landscape superintendents. Tree trimmers who gain experience and build a steady customer base in private companies might choose to open their own businesses. Working as an independent contractor, a tree trimmer sets his or her own hours, hires assistants, buys tools, and advertises services.

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