How to Become a Professional Tree Climber

Want to become a professional tree climber? There are many ways to find work in the industry, whether you’re an experienced climber or just want to test your skills. Try these tips on how start doing what they do best!

Tree climbing is a profession that requires a lot of physical labor. It is not easy to become a professional tree climber, but it can be done. To become a professional tree climber, you need to have experience and work hard for several years before becoming one. Read more in detail here: professional tree climber salary.

Man climbing giant redwood tree.

We’re back with another installment of our So You Want My Job series, in which we speak with guys who work in coveted positions and ask them about the realities of their employment as well as tips on how men might achieve their goals.

Every tiny child likes to climb trees; it’s only in our nature to ascend wherever there are trunks and branches. Many of us have a craving that never really goes away. When I’m out trekking or even simply in my backyard, I still have the urge to climb up trees. Few individuals in our society are so lucky that they never have to outgrow their ambition, and even better, they have created a profession out of it. Tim Kovar, the founder of Tree Climbing Planet (a tree climbing school) outside Portland, Oregon, is one of such persons. While many men fantasize of work in the outdoors, only a small percentage of them succeed. It’s much more difficult to know what possibilities there are for diverse outdoor vocations. We had the pleasure of speaking with Tim about his profession and how to get into this niche.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself (e.g., where do you come from?). What is your age? Describe your job, including how long you’ve been doing it, and so on.)

I grew up in a little hamlet west of Omaha, Nebraska, where I was born and reared. After graduating from high school, I set out to experience the great metropolis of Atlanta and began my global travels. Portland, Oregon, and Nashville, Tennessee, are now my base camps after 25 years of travel.

I’m a tree climbing teacher, guide, facilitator, and canopy access technician, and I’m 43 years old. For a number of reasons, I collaborate with and teach people how to climb trees. Along with the typical Joe and Jane, this group includes canopy researchers, photographers, eco-tourism operators, explorers, writers, campaigners, and arborists.

Since I was four years old, I’ve been climbing trees. I was exposed to technical tree climbing, which is the use of a rope and saddle to explore the canopy, around 20 years ago, and it led to my being a teacher and tree climbing mentor to hundreds of individuals all over the globe.

2. What inspired you to pursue a career as a professional tree climber? When did you realize you wanted to do it?

I was looking for an outside work that was entirely different from my former employment as a chef. I was itching to go out of the house and try something new.

As an arborist, I found climbing trees to be physically and emotionally difficult when I first began. It was a perilous profession that required me to go to a different office every day (never a boring day when chainsaws are involved). I was enthusiastic about the task and enjoyed working with the team. My employer invited me to a recreational tree climbing course one day. I had no notion that others (adults) like climbing trees; I assumed I was the lone man who never got tired of being high above it all.


When I arrived at the tree climbing school, I found that individuals of various ages were eager to jump on a rope and explore the canopy of “Nimrod,” a 150-year-old white oak tree. There were children as young as five years old with growth rings that numbered in the hundreds. I recall sitting in astonishment as I saw two elderly women rise 30′ into Nimrod’s arms. It was then that I saw how many different individuals were climbing the same tree. A 15-year-old punk rocker was climbing with an eight-year-old daughter, a grandmother, and a German family.

That day beneath Nimrod’s canopy, I also observed something magical: no matter what people’s political, religious, or philosophical beliefs were, they were all getting along and enjoying one other’s company. These strangers were telling each other personal tales about climbing their favorite trees as youngsters. This is when I realized there was more to climbing trees than simply climbing a tree; when people climb trees together, they form a special kind of kinship.

I’ve always loved being outside and sharing my love of nature with others. That day, a door opened, leading me on a road to help people enjoy nature in safe, exciting, and deep ways.

Man in tree hammock hanging from large tree branch.

3. Many individuals are unlikely to have heard of tree climbing as a job. What are the many types of jobs available to tree climbers?

A working arborist or tree doctor is the most typical employment for a professional tree climber. These brave souls climb dangerous trees to make the world above us a bit safer. They’re also acknowledged with performing a fantastic job of assisting in the upkeep of our city’s trees. Tree house builders, zip line building, canopy research assistants, and aerial rigging for film crews and photographers are all examples of tree climbing employment.

A growing trend is canopy eco-tourism, in which professional tree climbing guides take the general public out for a day of tree climbing. These guided climbs may take an hour, while those who are more adventurous might join up for week-long trips exploring the Brazilian Amazon Basin’s forests. For others, catching some ZZZs in the trees, sometimes known as tree top camping, is the pinnacle of the tree climbing experience.

Another newer alternative is Treehab, a rehabilitation tree climbing program in Japan that helps physically challenged children get a fresh perspective on life.

4. What are the steps to become a professional tree climber? Is there a specific certification you’ll need, and does it vary depending on the kind of tree climbing job you want to do?

There is currently no regulating organization in charge of professional tree climber training. The arborist community adheres to OSHA tree care rules.

Working in the isolated jungles necessitates a variety of climbing approaches in order to provide the safest and most effective exploration methods. Finding a competent school that has quality and can meet your climbing demands is the best method to learn. However, be cautious, since there are an increasing number of rogue tree climbing schools attempting to make a fast cash. The most important things to ask are where your teacher received their training and whether they are certified by reputable tree climbing schools like Tree Climbing Planet, Tree Climbers International, and EarthJoy. Also, request references and testimonials that may be followed up on. Run the opposite way if the “teacher” is using spikes to climb a living tree.


Although tree climbing isn’t difficult, it may be deadly when you leave the safety of our bottom feeder habitat.

5. You’ve worked with film crews and scientific researchers on a range of tree-climbing projects. How do these folks track you down, or do you track them down? As a tree climber, how do you go about locating customers and jobs?

I’ve climbed trees in over 15 countries, collaborating with academics, film teams, eco-tourism programs, and others. I’ve also taught over 10,000 people how to use the umbrella. The bulk of my customers come to me via recommendations, media coverage, and my website. I periodically contact charitable organizations based in far-flung locations to see whether my tree-climbing abilities may be useful. I’m still attempting to get to Madagascar in order to climb with the lemurs.

6. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

Men helping to a little girl for tree climbing.

International travel is one of my greatest pleasures. I’ve had the good fortune of being able to combine my climbing abilities with this enthusiasm. When I collaborate with scientists and film teams, I sometimes acquire access to some of the world’s most distant and restricted locations, which would otherwise be almost difficult to reach. Working at a King Cobra Research Center in a tiger reserve in India’s Western Ghats was one of my jobs. Another once-in-a-lifetime experience was being dropped off in Hawaiian protected areas to work with a conservationist research center. I’ve also collaborated with a BBC film team documenting the canopy of California’s Giant Sequoias and canopy researchers in Costa Rica’s protected Cloud Forest.

I’m also just interested in the folks I meet. Ninety-nine percent of the pupils I get have a genuine interest in trees and the environment, two things that I hold dear. I have students from all walks of life, from physicians to mothers, photographers to grandparents, who come to me from all over the globe. Students as young as five years old and as old as 85 years old take refuge among the woods.

“Tim, you’re planting tree climbers all over the globe,” one of my pupils once said. I like meeting new people because of the trees.

7. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

The logistics of transporting 100+ pounds of climbing gear to far-flung corners of the globe. Getting 600 feet of rope, enormous slingshots, bow and arrows, as well as a variety of helmets, saddles, and hardware through customs may be a nightmare at times. Furthermore, the additional baggage taxes are quite inconvenient.

8. How do you strike a balance between job, family, and personal life?

This is quite likely the most difficult aspect of my job/life. My tree climbing school is in Portland, Oregon, and my wife and children reside in Nashville, so it’s a long drive.

We’ve developed a nice rhythm as we go through the seasons. Summers are spent in our Oregon cottage, where we escape the southeast’s heat and humidity. The winter home base is in Tennessee, where the rain and cold of the Pacific Northwest are avoided. In the winter, I do the bulk of my overseas travel.


When my family is able to accompany me on my worldwide travels, it is a true gift. Worldly experience, in my opinion, is the finest kind of education. All of my worries go away when I get the chance to expose my children to new cultures, beliefs, and practices.

9. What is the most common misunderstanding about your job?

Climbing a tree is a kid’s game. When most people hear my work title, they immediately think of the apple tree in their backyard that they climbed as a youngster. They are awestruck when I tell them about the large trees, the extensive gear knowledge, as well as the physical and mental demands. They never contemplated climbing the world’s tallest trees; in fact, most people are unaware that it is conceivable.

Another common misunderstanding is that climbing trees is the same as climbing rocks. It’s not the case. This reality has been acknowledged by hundreds of rock climbers with whom I’ve worked. It’s a separate medium with distinct processes, goals, and consequences.

Vintage of a man illustration with green background.

10. Do you have any other advice, ideas, or stories to share?

One of our final frontiers on our planet is the canopy. It’s a one-of-a-kind ecology that’s mostly unspoiled for thousands of years. It wasn’t until roughly 40 years ago that experts began to pay attention to what was going on on the world’s rooftops. Some canopies feature a fragile ecology that is sometimes likened to ocean coral reefs. One of my greatest concerns is that folks who lack the necessary technical tree climbing abilities would endanger these ecosystems. Ecosystems that have been keeping an eye on us since the beginning of time.

Climbing gently, carefully, and relaxedly requires not just knowledge of how to get into this arboreal environment, but also a certain attitude. This form of consciousness climbing, I think, creates a unique connection with nature, similar to what our primordial predecessors must have felt at times.




A tree climber job is a position in which the person climbs trees, and often does so for a living. The position can be found in many different industries. Reference: what is a tree climber job.

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