Tree Trimmer

License required in 7 states

19th most burdensome licensing requirements among moderate-income occupations

83rd most heavily regulated occupation among moderate-income occupations

What They Do

Tree trimmers cut away dead or excess branches from trees or shrubs to maintain right-of-way for roads, sidewalks or utilities, or to improve appearance, health and value of trees. This report looks at what is required to run one’s own tree trimming business.


Seven states require tree trimmers to obtain licenses. On average, these laws require $325 in fees, over one and a half years (574 days) of education and experience, and around two exams—the 19th most burdensome requirements of the 102 occupations studied here. However, because so few states license tree trimmers, the occupation only ranks as the 83rd most widely and onerously licensed.

Two of the licenses—California’s and Hawaii’s—are much more burdensome than the rest, requiring four years (1,460 days) of experience. These are contractor licenses that apply only to tree trimming jobs at or above $500 and $1,000, respectively. (See Appendix B under “Contractor Occupations – Commercial and Residential” for details on contractor licensing.) Maryland is the only other state that requires any education or experience. In addition, every state requires at least one exam and all but two set a minimum age of 18 years. Finally, fees vary greatly, from $30 in Maryland to $725 in Connecticut.

License to Work

The data and information here come from IJ’s License to Work report, released in November 2017.

States Ranked by Average Licensing Burden for 102 Lower-Income Occupations

More Burdensome Less Burdensom
Based on data released in November 2017

State Licensing Requirements

Select a chart to view:
Burden Rank State States Licensed Fees Estimated Calendar Days Lost Education Experience Exams Minimum Grade Minimum Age
1 Hawaii 7 $615 1460 4 years 2 0 18
2 California 7 $529 1460 4 years 2 0 18
3 Maryland 7 $30 1095 2 years 1 years 1 0 18
4 Connecticut 7 $725 0 2 0 18
5 Maine 7 $115 0 2 0 18
6 Louisiana 7 $214 0 1 0 0
7 Rhode Island 7 $50 0 1 0 0