Contract Climbing: Is It Right For You?
As you meet people working in the Tree Care Industry, you may hear some refer to themselves as Contract Climbers. To some people, they are known as “hired guns”. At least that’s what I’ve heard from time to time.
Contract climbers jump around from company-to-company or for some instances, work for 4-5 different companies at different times of the year. Is contract work right for you? Learn more about it now.
Contract Work is Hard Work
In my experience doing contract work, 80% of the time you're being asked to take care of a big nasty removal that their climbers don’t want to deal with. The other 20%, I find myself trimming a lot of the mighty Oak trees in the wintertime. Prepare yourself for the big nasties if you plan on doing contract climbing work.
Jobs Can Be Far Away
Something to consider is how far will you travel to jobsites. You may get lucky and get a project close to home. On the other hand, be prepared for long commutes.
I’ve met a handful of people in the tree care world who have equipped their vans with living quarters, and live in their vehicle while they commute from contract to contract. Hey, it's a good way to explore the country!
Bring Some Extra Rigging Gear
After my first few contract gigs, I quickly learned to always have some extra rigging gear! I always carry some extra rigging gear in case the company you're contracting for is working with poor quality gear. If I have to do some quick rigging that doesn’t really require setting up rigging rings or block pulley’s, I will just bust out a 3-strand that is in GOOD shape and go. It’s hard to just have some extra rigging gear, especially if you’re just starting out but it is worth the investment (if you’re going for the long haul). Word of warning; be aware that when you bring out your rig lines, that they could potentially get cut by a random crew member of the company that you are out working for. It absolutely does happen! I remember the first time this happened to me; I had butt checked out this pretty decent size Scotch Pine and before it was untied, here comes this kid gung-ho with a chainsaw just ripping limbs in pieces. He didn’t realize he cut my rope until it was all entangled within the sprocket of the saw! I was fuming at that point, but luckily the company owner seen it and ended up replacing my rope.
Know When to Turn Down a Job
Be ready for those super sketchy trees that some won’t do. You CAN turn down those trees if the risk of injury is too great. I have turned trees down before simply because there was no way of mitigating a possible incident. It may hurt to walk away from a paying job, but you need to make it home to see your loved ones.
It Isn't All Bad!
Contracting isn’t ALWAYS about the big nasties that no one else will tackle. A lot of the times you have friends who just genuinely need some extra assistance with simple tasks too. I personally haven’t been contracted to cable but know of two people who have gone out to help install cables. On other occasions, I have gone out to help with shaping Boxwoods, Yews and to naturally reduce Crabapples. Contract work can be tough, but that doesn't mean you should avoid it! Stay safe my tree family!