How to Become a Certified Arborist

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“Arborists prune trees and shrubs for decoration and safety. In addition, they are skilled in diagnosing and treating diseased trees. Organizations that employ arborists include golf courses, parks, universities, and utility companies, as do landscape companies catering to homeowners. The work of an arborist is 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.”

“While it’s not always required, some employers prefer arborists have a degree. Associates programs in arboriculture include courses in soil fertility, plant pathology, and community forestry. Students may also receive instruction in turf grass management. Bachelor’s programs in forestry or urban forestry include courses in botany, forest ecology, and soil science. A minor in arboriculture may be available as part of a four year forestry or horticulture program. We suggest that you complete an internship. Some postsecondary programs offer internships that allow students to gain hands-on experience in arboriculture. Internships give students the chance to hone their skills and prepare for full-time work.”

“Arborists can receive on-the-job training from tree care companies, landscaping companies, nurseries, municipalities, and utilities. Once employed, they’ll have to interact with clients, identifying trees and clear debris by pruning trees and shrubs. Entry-level arborists learn how to use tree maintenance tools. Commercial, municipal, and utility ground workers also start in entry-level positions. It’s a good idea to build leadership skills. Employers are looking for arborists who can manage a crew. Build your leadership ability by communicating effectively with peers, management, and clients.”

“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, candidates who hold an associate’s degree need two years of experience. Applicants who have a bachelor’s degree only need one year of experience. Additional certifications are available for tree worker aerial-lift, tree worker climber, municipal and utility specialists. The ISA also offers a Master Arborist designation. “

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