How to Become an Arborist(2023 Expert Tips)

Last Modified

May 17, 2023 by Hirah Ehsan

Studies have shown that becoming an arborist is a fulfilling career choice and one of the most environmentally friendly professions.

It requires a passion for the outdoors and the knowledge of various tree species to properly identify them and provide proper care. This article will outline the steps necessary to become an arborist.

To become an arborist, one must first possess specific qualifications. A high school diploma or GED is usually required, although some employers may require higher education, such as a bachelor’s degree in forestry or horticulture.

Additionally, many employers prefer candidates with prior experience with trees or landscaping work. So if you are interested in becoming an arborist, acquiring relevant job experience is a great place to start.

What you need to know about this field

The chart below offers an outline of what you should know before entering this area.

Education requiredThere is no formal education necessary; however, some institutions offer practical diploma programmes in arboriculture.
Key responsibilitiesTree trimming and pruning, tree planting coordination, and unhealthy tree diagnosis
CertificationAlthough not necessary, the International Society of Arboriculture offers the ISA Certified Arborist certificate.
Job growth6% (tree trimmers and pruners)
Median annual salary$48 to 970

Qualifications Needed

According to research, the demand for arborists is on the rise. With urbanization and environmental concerns, the need for skilled professionals to maintain and care for trees has never been more critical.

To become an arborist, a person must possess certain qualifications. The first requirement is to have a high school diploma or equivalent.

It is also necessary to have experience in tree climbing and pruning and knowledge of tree care principles. Additionally, most employers prefer that potential employees hold a valid driver’s license and have access to reliable transportation.

In addition, many employers require that arborists have certification from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).

This certification may require additional courses in topics such as safety training and pesticide application.

Other certifications may be specific to the individual state or region where the job is located, such as certification from the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA).

Becoming certified requires passing written exams and demonstrating proficiency in practical skills.

Relevant Job Experience

Gaining relevant job experience is an important step toward becoming an arborist. One way to do this is to get a job as an arborist assistant.

This position provides hands-on experience with trees and plants, including pruning, trimming, removal, planting and more. It is also a great way to learn about different species of trees and how they respond to different climates and soils.

Working with experienced arborists can provide valuable insight into the profession and offer mentorship opportunities.

Another way to gain job experience in arboriculture is to volunteer or intern at local parks or botanical gardens. This type of volunteering often involves tasks such as tree care, plant maintenance, landscape design, and more.

Aspiring arborists can build their skill set while gaining valuable knowledge about the profession through volunteer work.

Additionally, volunteering can provide valuable networking opportunities with professionals in the field who may be able to help guide future career decisions.

Certification and Licensing

Becoming an arborist requires much more than just a love of trees and a basic knowledge of their care. Certification and licensing must be obtained to practice professionally.

The first step is to find a program that meets the requirements for certification as an arborist. Programs are available through universities, trade schools, or online training courses.

Once a course of study has been completed, prospective arborists must pass the International Society of Arboriculture’s Certified Arborist Exam to obtain certification.

Achieving this certification demonstrates that the individual has the knowledge and experience to work safely and effectively with trees.

In addition to obtaining certification, most states require arborists to hold a state professional license. To obtain a state license, individuals must meet certain educational and experience requirements set by their state’s board of arboriculture.

The process can also include passing an exam that covers topics such as tree identification, disease control, soil management, pruning techniques, safety procedures, and business practices.

Once these requirements have been met, individuals will be eligible for licensure in their state as an arborist.

Arborists play an important role in maintaining healthy trees and landscapes throughout communities; providing safe and knowledgeable service is essential for success.

With proper education, certification from the ISA, and licensure through their state board of arboriculture, professionals can become certified arborists ready to start practicing their trade.

Safety Training and Practices

Becoming an arborist requires extensive safety training and practices to protect the arborist and those around them. Protective gear such as helmets, gloves, and chaps should always be worn while working with trees.

Additionally, being aware of your surroundings and assessing potential risks before starting is important. This includes being aware of overhead electrical lines or other hazardous items within the work area.

Arborists also need to understand basic first aid and CPR techniques in case of an emergency. Knowing how to properly use chainsaws, ladders, and other tools common to the industry is essential for an arborist’s safety.

All tools should be regularly inspected for damage or wear and tear before use. With proper safety training and practices, an arborist can become a successful professional in the industry with reduced risk of injury or accident.

Understanding Tree Biology And Ecology

After becoming familiar with arboriculture’s safety precautions and practices, it is important to understand tree biology and ecology.

Trees are living organisms capable of growth, reproduction, and maintenance. To be a successful arborist, one must comprehensively understand trees, from the roots to their canopy.

It is necessary to understand how trees interact with the environment and how to properly provide for their care.

Research has suggested that to become a successful arborist, one must have the knowledge and skills to properly transplant trees, identify and treat pests and diseases, and safely prune or remove trees when necessary.

An in-depth knowledge of tree biology is essential to effectively diagnose problems on a tree-by-tree basis.

Additionally, identifying different species of trees is important to recognize any differences that may require specialized care or handling.

With all this knowledge combined with proper safety precautions and practices in place, you have what it takes to become an arborist!

People Also Ask

What Is The Average Salary Of An Arborist?

The average salary of an arborist depends on their experience and location.

According to PayScale, the national median salary for an arborist is $41,851 per year, with a range typically between $31,000 and $54,000.

Experienced professionals may earn up to $71,000 annually. Those working in states such as California and New York can expect a higher salary than those in other states.

How Long Does It Take To Become An Arborist?

Becoming an arborist typically takes four to six years, depending on the individual and their chosen field. After completing a diploma or certificate program, aspiring arborists can pursue an apprenticeship or additional education to gain more experience in the field.

Upon completing the apprenticeship or additional training, applicants must pass a comprehensive exam to receive certification. Once certified, arborists have the knowledge and skills to work as professional tree care specialists.

What Other Skills Are Necessary To Work As An Arborist?

Working as an arborist requires various skills beyond the technical knowledge of trees and plants. Being physically fit is important, as the job often involves climbing and working in awkward positions.

Knowledge of how to use tools such as chainsaws and pruners is essential, as is the ability to read maps, use GPS, and operate machinery. Good customer service skills are also necessary to interact with clients and answer any questions they may have about their landscaping needs.

What Type Of Tools Do Arborists Use?

Arborists typically use various tools to help them carry out their tree care duties. These include pruning saws, pole pruners, chainsaws, climbers’ spikes and harnesses, ladders, and wood chippers.

They also may use power tools such as electric loppers and shears, drills, and augers. Arborists must be knowledgeable about the proper use of these tools to ensure their safety and the trees they are working with.

Are There Any Special Certifications Needed To Become An Arborist?

Yes, there are certifications needed to become an arborist. The certification process varies depending on your area and the type of tree work you plan to do.

Generally, however, you will need to have a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, and relevant qualifications such as an Arborist Certification from the International Society of Arboriculture or a Municipal Specialist Certificate from the Tree Care Industry Association.

Once qualified, you must keep up with continuing education requirements to maintain your certification.


To become an arborist, you must invest some time and effort. It can take up to two years, depending on the qualifications and certifications you pursue.

You will also need to have some knowledge of tools and tree care, as well as a good understanding of safety protocols.

With the right combination of training, experience, and certifications, you can become an arborist with a competitive salary. Plus, you will work outdoors in nature daily – what could be better?

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