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Moving off the tools into surveying

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I'm an experienced climbing arborist, and getting in my mid-forties now. So while I still enjoy climbing work I'm starting to look for ways to use my knowledge and experience to move into other areas of ARB work. Doing a PTI course this year, what else would people recommend. I'd like to get some freelance work doing aerial inspections for consultancies and surveys and ecologists. Is this difficult to get into as a self employed arborist?


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It will largely depend on how much surveying work you have done previously. PTI will obviously help but if you only have climbing experience you may find the PTI hard going. The AA do an intermediate tree inspection that bridges the gap between the basic tree inspection and the PTI.

If you have done lots of quoting and some survey work this will help. I would be looking to do L4 if you haven’t already got something like the old tech cert or ND Arb. Although it isn’t a legal requirement to have these qualifications in order to get professional indemnity you will need more than NPTC’s to satisfy the underwriters.

There are often jobs advertised for freelance surveyors for council contracts or for larger consultancies who need ad hoc help. Typically these may be surveying street of trees for a set price per tree. Not the most exciting work but gets you a foot in the door. With the building industry busy you may also get BS5837 work as well. A bit more info on your current qualifications and survey experience as well as location would help.

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Hi JaySmith. Thanks for the helpful reply. I've got Level 3 in arb and would consider doing a level 4 or 5 at some stage but it's more than I can manage right now in terms of work load. So I'm hoping the PTI is a quicker step into the surveying world. I've heard it's tough, but I'm happy to take the gamble as I can always retake the exam if I fail first attempt.

I've heard doing the mortgage tree report course can be helpful for getting work.

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The L4 is a big undertaking, it’s possible to do it in under nine months but say goodbye to life as you know it! If you have L3 and experience it would be worth speaking with insurers to see if they are happy with that.

If you go down the PTI route read up on fungi, p and d and survey techniques. Do some dummy surveys in a park, assess the trees using the same methodical manner and record the results and the works you would prescribe.

I haven’t done the mortgage report writing course as it’s not an area I’m involved in but from speaking to others they have seen an uptake in this kind of work so depending on cost Vs return maybe worth doing.

Recruiters such as Complete Tree Care often have part time surveyor roles so depending on where you are this may be worth looking into.

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Pti is not easy, in my group there was at least 1 fail. All the guys I chatted with passed. If you have done tree work for a long time and been interested in tree biology and fungi you should pass. It's not easy but my training was excellent and covered everything. All the best. J.

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Yeah I've heard PTI is tough. I've done my best to scrub up my knowledge, bought the big Fungi on trees books, have shadowed a colleague on a survey and have done some informal ones for customers in the past. So I do have some idea what I'm getting into. But need to brush up on my spotting of different conditions for different tree species. 

Can't face doing level 4 right now. Will cost too much in time and money. Will leave that for a few years time I think.


Thanks for your input chaps 👍

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