When you need a tree removed or evaluated for its health, your first instinct is probably to google something like “tree removal” or “tree health service.” You’ll get a list of dozens of arborists and tree service companies that work in your area.

But now you have a question: what is an arborist? And is an arborist any different from a regular tree service professional? You need to know how to choose the right tree professional.

Arborists can offer tree service, but not all tree service workers are qualified to call themselves arborists. Here’s an overview of the difference between a tree service professional and an arborist.

What’s the Difference Between Tree Services and Arborists?

An arborist is a highly trained and experienced tree professional. They have an extensive range of knowledge about tree health, best pruning practices, shaping, safety, and just about every other aspect of tree services. They can provide thoughtful recommendations based on deep knowledge of your trees and their health.

On the other hand, just about anyone can call themself a “tree person.” While less-trained tree people can do a decent job with simple services like tree removal, they may not know the best practices for tree health or safety. Untrained tree people are more likely to accidentally make recommendations that cause harm to your trees, and they may not even offer the services you really need.

For example, untrained tree people often offer to “top” trees, or cut off the top branches of overgrown trees. While careful pruning can be helpful, “topping” can send a tree into shock. The tree will use all its resources to grow tiny shoots off the branches to increase food production, leaving it with fewer defenses against decay and insects.

A trained arborist knows not to simply “top” a tree. They are trained to prune trees effectively for tree health, safety, and beauty. If you work with an arborist, you will likely end up with a healthier and better-shaped tree.

Trained arborists are also less likely to make mistakes that lead to accidents. They know all the best practices to avoid property damage and injury.

What It Takes to Become an Arborist


To call yourself a certified arborist, you must spend years training under another arborist. You need several years of practical work in arboriculture or a degree in a relevant field. You also need to take an exam to prove your knowledge.

Certified arborists also must adhere to a code of ethics. In other words, certification means you can expect a higher level of credibility and reliability.

Arborists in the Puget Sound Area

At Tree Harmony Arborists, we work to protect the health and beauty of trees, shrubs, and landscapes in the Seattle area and beyond. We serve customers with professionalism, integrity, passion, and first-class service at a competitive price.

We are an approved tree service provider with the City of Seattle. Becoming approved with the city government requires professional certification, minimum insurance thresholds for property and liability, city and specialty contractor licensing, and a good safety history.

Our company was founded nearly 12 years ago by Scott Sinclair, an arborist who has executed over 700 tree-related projects for his clients. Scott trained under a senior arborist for years to learn the best practices for tree health, beauty, safety, and customer service.

Schedule a consultation with us today for tree health evaluation, pruning, shaping, landscaping, or other arborist services.

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