Foresters vs Arborists: What’s the Difference?

If you’re passionate about the environment and have a love for trees, a career in tree care and management might be the perfect fit for you. But with so many options available, it can be difficult to determine which profession is the right fit for your personality and skill set.

In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between foresters and arborists, helping you make an informed decision about your future career path.

What are Foresters?

Foresters are professionals who specialise in the management and conservation of forests and their resources. They work to ensure that forests are used sustainably and responsibly, providing a wide range of benefits to society, including wildlife habitat, recreation, and water quality.

Foresters may also be involved in planning and implementing forest management activities such as tree planting, thinning, and logging. They hold a strong understanding of forest ecology, silviculture, and sustainable forestry practices.

Urban forester

Urban foresters and arborists can be hard to tell apart when you see them working on a tree. This is urban forester, Lindsey Purcell. Image source

What are Arborists?

Arborists, on the other hand, specialise in the care and maintenance of individual trees in urban and suburban environments. They’re trained in safe tree climbing and rigging techniques and have a comprehensive understanding of tree biology, growth habits, and health.

They perform a wide range of tasks, including tree pruning, removal, planting, fertilisation, pest and disease control, and hazard assessments, and follow industry standards and best practices to ensure the health and safety of trees and the public.

Key Differences between Foresters and Arborists

While both foresters and arborists work with trees, and they’re both highly qualified, their focus and responsibilities differ greatly.

Foresters work at the forest level, managing entire ecosystems, while arborists focus on tasks like individual tree health assessments, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and pruning.

Essentially, foresters deal with populations of trees, whereas arborists deal with individual trees, one at a time.

Which Profession is Right for You?

The choice between foresters and arborists ultimately depends on your personal interests, skills, and career goals. If you’re interested in the overall management and conservation of forests, then a career as a forester might be the right fit for you. However, if you’ve got a passion for the care and maintenance of individual trees in urban environments, becoming an arborist might be a better option.

Hort People Job Board

Hort People is the Australian horticulture and landscape industry job board, where you can browse both urban forester and arboriculture jobs and salaries. Click here

You can also upload your resume so that employers can chase you. Click here


Whether you choose to become a forester or an arborist, you’ll have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment and contribute to the health and beauty of our urban and rural landscapes. With the right training and education, you can enjoy a fulfilling and exciting career in forest management or tree care, helping to ensure that forests and trees are used sustainably and responsibly.

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