How Much Do Tree Climbers Make?

December 13, 2023

Tree climbers are a special breed of arborist who skillfully ascend and descend a tree performing duties designed to maintain the health and appearance of trees, such as spraying for pests or diseases or pruning branches. Alternative job titles for this profession include tree trimmer and arborist. The average hourly rate for a tree climber varies by region, industry, employer and level of expertise.

A professional tree climber can expect to earn a salary in the range of $17 per hour or higher. This may vary based on the level of experience and skill sets of the individual, as well as whether the climber holds one or more safety, pesticide and arboriculture certifications from a recognized association. A tree climber who specializes in certain types of work such as invasive species removal, specific branch weight reduction or specific clearance pruning can also command higher wages than others who perform more generalized work specifications.

The highest paying states for tree climbers are California ($55,917), New York ($54,992) and Alaska ($54,496). The lowest paid states are Kansas, Alabama and Missouri. Regardless of geographic location, tree climbers can increase their hourly earnings by taking on additional responsibilities such as overseeing more junior members of the team, gaining advanced degrees or undergoing additional training and becoming a certified arborist.

A good licensed climber with saws and rigging makes about $60/hour. It's mostly done on a day rate. I know a couple hack climbers with no gear that charge $250 a day, but their 'day' is really only a few hours.

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