Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a collection of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How is the training organised?
Initial training must be undertaken by a qualified instructor, then all candidates have to be independently assessed by the National Proficiency Test Council (NPTC). All courses offered by TreeHouse / Kingswood Training are overseen by Lantra, which is a government body that tests instructors of environmental and land-based industries and provides quality assurance for the candidate. We will book your assessment for you at the end of your course, and an NPTC assessor will be appointed to examine your competence. We are proud of the fact that our pass rate is consistently around 95%.
There are some ancillary courses that do not require independent assessment. These are referred to as ITA courses (Integrated Training and Assessment) and the instructor can issue a certificate of competence if he judges that the candidate has met the skill criteria. These are listed separately from the chainsaw courses, and include use of Woodchippers, Stumpgrinders, Brushcutters etc.
What does chainsaw training involve?
Chainsaw training skills are broken down by NPTC into a series of numbered units. These can be read in the attached list. All candidates must start by achieving NPTC Units 201/202 (CS30 - Chainsaw Maintenance and Crosscutting) and NPTC Unit 203 (CS31 - Felling Trees up to 380mm Diameter). This is typically a 5 day course, with an assessment on day 6.
When the candidate has gained these units, he or she can progress to felling larger trees NPTC Unit 301 (CS32), or train for the climbing units NPTC 206/306 (CS38 Tree Climbing and Aerial Rescue, and NPTC 308 (CS39 Using a Chainsaw from Rope and Harness). The climbing courses do require a reasonable level of physical fitness and a good head for heights is a definite advantage!
All these are outdoor, hands-on courses for a maximum of 4 people at a time. There is some theory involved in CS30 and CS31, but mostly you will be felling trees and honing your chainsaw handling skills until you can fell accurately and consistently. On the climbing courses you will spend a lot of time climbing fairly big trees, ‘learning the ropes’ and doing simulated rescues of an injured climber, before learning to handle a chainsaw safely whilst securely anchored into the canopy.
We get a lot of positive feedback from candidates who tell us that they are amazed at how much they have learnt, and how confident and competent they feel after a relatively short time. Above all, they tell us how much they have really enjoyed it!
What courses are available, and at what cost?
The vast majority of those seeking intensive re-training, opt for our 4-week Combined Arboriculture Course, which has been specifically designed to cover the full range of relevant skills, therefore helping someone who has no previous experience to get suitably qualified to work in the arboricultural and forestry industry.
View a full list of our individual courses with the tuition fees.
Assessment fees are paid directly to NPTC, and prices start from £120 per unit.
How long will it take to get to TreeHouse / Kingswood?
The following journey times are calculated by Satnav, to Sevenoaks, Kent
Brighton - 1 hour 10 mins
Cambridge - 1 hour 30 mins
Oxford - 1 hour 40 mins
Southampton - 1 hour 50 mins
Bath - 2 hours 30 mins
Brimingham - 2 hours 40 mins
Nottingham - 3 hours 0 mins
Sheffield - 3 hours 20 mins
Exeter - 3 hours 40 mins
Our candidates travel from all over the country, because they can travel off peak the evening before the course, if they choose to stay locally and are then rested and ready for an easy 9am course start time. Please contact the office regarding local accommodation options.
What are the job prospects for arboriculture and forestry?
TREES KEEP GROWING – that is a fact! When they get too big for their position, or fall into ill-health, someone has to reduce or remove them. Britain leads the world in the teaching of arboricultural skills, and this is partly because our high population density means that a lot of houses are built close to trees which are retained for their amenity value. Sooner or later however, the trees just get too big or unsafe, and that usually means that a trained tree surgeon has to climb the tree and skillfully reduce it, or dismantle it completely. There are plans to build hundreds of thousands of new homes in the South East alone, and very often Planning Authorities will insist on the retention of as many trees on these sites as possible. These will require additional care and attention – it’s all good for business! This means great job prospects for those training in tree surgery.
Following the very high winds of October 1987, and more recently, there is a much greater awareness of the need to manage trees, either by crown thinning or reduction, to keep them safe. People are also much more interested in caring for our tree heritage, and are prepared to invest in skilled ‘tree care’. The very dry summer of 2003 will also unfortunately create work, because trees stressed by drought will succumb to diseases which they would otherwise have survived, and mortality rates of mature trees will inevitably rise for the next 2 or 3 years.
In recent years, the government has given local authorities the powers to force people to reduce or remove rows of Leylandii which are depriving neighbours of light. There are over 100,000 known disputes in England alone! This is great news for tree surgeons everywhere.
If you want to work in this industry, the first decision you need to make is whether to be self-employed and run your own business, or seek employment with an established company. In many ways, a year or so working for a well-run company is an excellent grounding for becoming self employed, but be careful to choose a good one. If you choose to be employed, there are many ways of finding work – the following list is by no means exhaustive.
Circulate your CV to local tree surgeons (find them in Yellow Pages or from your Local Council).
Contact the utility companies in your area and find out whether they employ staff directly, and if not, who they sub-contract work out to.
Contact your Local Authority – they will either employ staff direct or sub-contract to independent companies.
Look in the press, including National, Local and Trade papers and magazines such as Arb News.
The tree surgery and forestry industries are THRIVING, and show every sign of continuing to do so. They offer a wide range of interesting job prospects, particularly for enterprising, well-motivated people who want a healthy outdoor life. I have worked in this sector for over 20 years, and can honestly say that I still get up and look forward to my days work. I hope that you choose your career well, and will be able to say the same thing in 20 years time!