What Is a Certified Arborist?

A love for tree climbing can lead to a certified arborist career.

A love for tree climbing can lead to a certified arborist career.

To a certified arborist, or tree care specialist, tree climbing is more than a recreational sport. An arborist certified through the International Society of Arboriculture gets an all-over workout by scaling trees to prune them for healthier growth, attaching cables to support weak branches and installing lightning protection. If a damaged or diseased tree presents a safety hazard, this energetic lady and her team will work carefully to remove it.

Certification Requirements

You might be surprised to learn that obtaining an ISA arborist certification isn't a walk in the park. First, you'll have to document at least three years of full-time field work experience. You can substitute a degree in arboriculture, forestry, horticulture or landscape architecture from a regionally accredited school. You'll also have to pass the ISA arborist certification exam, designed to demonstrate your arboriculture generalist skills. You must also subscribe to a Certified Arborist Code of Ethics.

Specialty Certifications

If you thrive on challenges, the ISA offers four specialty tree care certifications that might pique your interest. Consider a certified arborist/utility specialist position, in which you'll help maintain utilities' access to electrical installations. A certified arborist/municipal specialist credential directs your focus to urban forestry tasks, and might include urban planning and policy work. Put your athletic abilities to work with a climbing specialist certification; or consider an aerial lift operator certification, which allows you to demonstrate your skills with the “cherry picker.” Finally, a Board Certified Master Arborist credential signifies that you're the “cream of the crop” of arboriculturists.

Certification Benefits

You wonder if you'll receive a return on the time and money you invest for your ISA certification(s). You'll actually receive a career payoff on three fronts. You'll definitely be a better-qualified job candidate than a noncredentialed tree climber looking to make some extra cash. If you're working as an employee, you'll be more favorably positioned for a pay increase and upcoming promotional opportunities. If you plan to establish a tree service company, your potential residential, commercial and municipal clients will know you're a competent professional arborist.

Arboriculture Career Paths

Your ISA-Certified Arborist credential means the sky's the limit for your professional aspirations. You can assume a management role in a large tree care company or create an arboriculture business with your own distinctive twist. If you get a kick out of sharing your tree care knowledge with others, you might enjoy teaching in a community college or technical school, or perhaps working within your community as a cooperative extension agent. Maybe you've always believed trees can co-exist with buildings and roadways, which makes you an excellent candidate for a municipal arborist job. Perhaps you'd like to create a career out of multiple arboriculture activities, which virtually assures you'll never get bored.

Video of the Day

Brought to you by LIVESTRONG.COM
Brought to you by LIVESTRONG.COM

About the Author

Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images