The tree care industry has grown substantially over the last 100 years, creating more opportunities in technology, products, and tree service solutions. Business owners also experience more competition than they would have decades ago. Still, today’s tree management operations are expanding, and labor is needed to fill in the gaps.
Better products, solutions, and technologies require hands-on support from arborists who understand new machinery and tree cutting practices. Further, experts are needed to rebuild forests burnt down by wildfires and urban spaces hit by storms, floods, and other natural disasters.
To get an idea of the health of the tree service industry, the different tree care professions must be considered and accounted for. Tree care professionals include pruners, tree cutters, tree transplanters, fertilizers, and administrators.
Since these titles fall under the industry’s umbrella at large, most reports fail to distinguish between commercial tree services, utility arborists, independent operators, and municipal providers. However, more data has been collected in the last few years about the industry, and tree care professionals have an opportunity to speak their minds.
Today, tree service statistics come in the form of industry-wide trends related to employment, budgeting, and personal challenges. A 2017 survey from the Tree Service Magazine found that 52% of tree service workers feel it’s harder to make a living now than ten years ago. Further, 43% were operating under the previous year’s budget, and 54% cited that finding reliable support was their biggest challenge.
Even though the tree service industry is expanding every day, most workers still fall into land development, fallen and damaged tree removal, and tree management. These working environments are risky, but updated safety and monetary statistics will encourage more efficient operations, improved profits, and better working conditions.
IBISWorld found that in 2015, a combined 141,796 tree trimming and removal services had over 200,000 employees while bringing in over $17 billion. A 2016 report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, concluded that around 40,000 arbor service workers earned a $17.94 mean hourly wage.
Industry employment has growth potential, but dangerous and labor-intensive conditions limit the number of contracts any single tree service business can take on at once. There are also limitations regarding manpower, as inadequate budgets restrict hiring and equipment purchasing capacities.
For business owners to modernize industry practices and transform dangerous working environments, they will need to do the following:
Since most tree service businesses pay their employees between $10 and $23 per hour, there is considerable spread when it comes to the yearly salaries of workers. Companies must also provide employees with insurance and other benefits, equipment and tools, and sometimes vehicles.
Running tree service operations is not cheap, but companies operating in the US tend to make anywhere from $100,000 to $5 million per year in gross income. Single-member crew operations will make substantially less than five or six-member crews pulling in thousands of dollars per day, but business owners will need to weigh operational costs vs. net revenue.
The tree service industry would not survive without adequate safety measures. With that in mind, continued workplace injuries and fatalities have encouraged further regulations and safety advancements. For years, government initiatives have attempted to overcome safety challenges while the industry advancements in technologies, education, and techniques.
However, emergency storm response, utility line clearance via tree removal, and vegetation management dominate the nation’s list of occupational safety hazards. Specifically, worker injuries and fatalities are categorized by falls, head injuries, machine-related accidents, electrocutions, and impact by falling objects.
Specialized tools also create safety hazards, as aerial lifts, bucket trucks, chainsaws, and other power tools give workers a false sense of security. Many of these pieces of equipment have only contributed to the tree service industry’s fatality-defining statistics.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, roughly 200 tree-related fatalities happen every year due to transportation incidents and objects and equipment falling out of trees.
Further, 2016 saw over 40 deaths from slips, trips, and falls by tree pruners or trimmers.
If anything, these tree service statistics indicate that the industry still has a long way to go before it can overcome occupational safety hazards across the board. With quotas to meet, business owners will need to change without offsetting staffing, costs, or productivity.
Looking at some of the most relevant tree service statistics can point business owners, their employees, and up-and-coming workers in the industry in the right direction.
The tree service industry is growing every day. Business owners will need to capitalize on the technologies, products, and solutions coming out of the modern era. Looking at the statistics above, industry leaders should remain optimistic about the success of tree service businesses. There are and will continue to be opportunities in employment, profits, and safety measures. However, industry challenges need to be overcome with innovation and determination.