How to Become a Certified Arborist: Certification and Career Roadmap
Find out how to become a certified arborist. Research education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in tree care.
Do I Want to Be a Certified Arborist?
Arborists prune trees and shrubs for decoration and safety; they also might be skilled in diagnosing and treating diseased trees. Golf courses, parks, universities and utility companies employ arborists, as do landscape companies catering to homeowners.
This work can be physically demanding and includes the use of potentially dangerous machinery. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), grounds maintenance workers, including arborists, have a higher rate of illnesses and injuries than the average occupation.
Many entry-level arborist positions require a minimum of a high school diploma, although some employers prefer job candidates who hold a 2- or 4-year degree. Employers also might prefer arborists who hold certifications through the International Society of Arboriculture. The following table contains the core requirements for arborists:
|Degree Level||High school diploma required*; employers may prefer a degree**|
|Degree Field||Arboriculture, forestry, horticulture or related field*|
|Licensure and Certification||Licensure is often necessary for arborists who apply pesticides*; Certification isn't always required, but it's preferred by employers**|
|Experience||None required for entry-level positions; some employers want candidates with at least three years of experience**|
|Key Skills||Strong communication skills; knowledge of equipment and safety procedures**|
|Technical Skills||Use of chippers, chainsaws and stump grinders*|
|Additional Requirements||Current driver's license**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Various job listings (September 2012)
Step 1: Earn a Degree
While it's not always required, some employers prefer arborists that have a degree. Associate's programs in arboriculture include courses in soil fertility, plant pathology and community forestry. Students may also receive instruction in turfgrass management. Bachelor's programs in forestry or urban forestry cover similar topics, such as botany, soil science and forest ecology. A minor in arboriculture may be available as part of a horticulture or forestry bachelor's program.
- Complete an internship. Some postsecondary programs offer internships that allow students to gain hands-on experience. Internships give students the chance to hone the skills they've learned and prepare for full-time work.
Step 2: Gain Experience
Arborists can receive on-the-job training from tree care companies, landscaping companies, nurseries, municipalities and utilities. They may be required to interact with clients, identify trees and clear debris by pruning trees and shrubs. Entry-level arborists can also learn how to use tree maintenance tools. Examples of entry-level positions include those of commercial, municipal and utility groundworkers.
- Build leadership skills. Employers may be looking for someone who can manage a crew. Build leadership skills by learning to communicate effectively with peers, management and clients, expressing a 'can-do' attitude.
Step 3: Become Certified
In some cases, employers prefer arborists that are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). To qualify for the ISA's Certified Arborist credentialing exam, candidates need at least three years of experience. However, those who hold an associate's degree only need two years of experience; one year of experience is required for applicants who have a bachelor's degree. Additional areas of certification are available for utility specialists, municipal specialists, tree worker-climber specialists and tree worker aerial-lift specialists. The ISA offers a Master Arborist designation as well.
- Earn continuing education units. The Certified Arborist credential must be renewed every three years. To qualify for re-certification, individuals must obtain 30 continuing education units and pay a fee.
Related to How to Become a Certified Arborist: Certification and Career Roadmap
- Recently Updated
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, arborists specialize in tree health, structure and maintenance. The recent...
Arborists require some formal education. Learn about the training, job duties, licensure and certification requirements to see...
While there are limited training program options for arborists, there are some that provide fundamental content in such areas...
Arboriculture is the field devoted to caring for trees and other plants, which includes planting, pruning and removal. Careers...
- Landscape Engineer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
- Landscape Design Training Program Overview
- Job Description of a Landscape Specialist
- Air Conditioning Equipment Mechanic: Job Description and Requirements
- Computer Engineer: Starting a Career in Computer Engineering
- Public Affairs Officer: Job Description and Education Information
- Career Info for a Degree in Radiological Science & Technologies