Tree Climbing Schools and Training Programs: How to Choose

Students interested in tree work should look for training programs that offer basic and advanced tree climbing skills taught by an experienced instructor. Because tree work can be dangerous and difficult, proper training on safety procedures is essential for prospective workers or hobbyists.

How to Select a Tree Climbing School

Most tree climbing training programs offer training specifically for arborists or other tree workers. Training is typically offered via standalone courses.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Experienced instructors
  • Fieldwork
  • Class size
  • Curriculum

Experienced Instructors

One of the most important aspects of choosing a tree climbing school is to find an experienced instructor. Some instructors are certified through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), either as arborists, tree workers or tree specialists of various types. Most programs highlight the safety record of their instructors.


Another important factor when choosing a tree climbing school is ensuring that the program offers practical training. Students should spend the majority of the course actually in the trees, where they gain the hands-on experience necessary to succeed as a tree worker.

Class Size

In addition, students should seek a training program that offers a low student-to-teacher ratio. Many programs don't allow more than three students per instructor. This ensures that the instructor can give students individualized attention that promotes student safety at all times. Smaller classes also give students more interaction with instructors, solidifying understanding of the topics and techniques being taught.


Most tree climbing training schools offer a variety of courses, starting with basic climbing for those with little or no experience and advancing to courses designed for professional tree workers. In the courses, students learn tree climbing fundamentals, including how to assess a tree's condition prior to climbing, the use of the traditional double-rope technique and the proper placement of ropes within the tree.

Tree Climbing Program Overviews

Basic Tree Climbing Course

Basic tree climbing courses for tree workers are usually taught during a weekend and offer practical experience, covering topics such as knot tying and rope placement. Students receive information about how to select and maintain gear needed for safe tree climbing. In addition, courses introduce topics such as:

  • Tree selection
  • How to safely maneuver within the tree
  • Ground descending.

Advanced Tree Climbing Course

Advanced tree climbing courses, generally offered for a week's duration, focus on the more technical aspects of tree climbing and tree work. Students spend a lot of time on the ground and in the trees, learning how to perform an in-depth assessment of each tree and the proper climbing techniques needed for a successful climb. Other topics include:

  • Alternative rigging methods
  • Canopy access methods
  • Single-rope climbing techniques

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