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.

Some things to consider when looking into potential training courses:

  • Some instructors are certified through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), either as arborists, tree workers or tree specialists of various types and most programs highlight the safety record of their instructors because having an experienced, qualified instructor is very important.
  • When choosing a tree climbing school, students should also ensure that the program offers practical training, allowing students to spend the majority of the course actually in the trees, where they gain the hands-on experience necessary to succeed as a tree worker.
  • Students should also seek a training program that offers a low student-to-teacher ratio because smaller classes are safer and 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, but students may want to make sure they have the option to learn things like 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

10 Schools with Tree Climbing Programs

College/University Institution Type
Cornell University 4-year, Public
Pennsylvania State University 4-year, Public
Humber College 2-year, Public
University of Pennsylvania 4-year, Private
Windward Community College 2-year, Public
Milwaukee Area Technical College 2-year, Public
Electrical Industry Training Institute Private
ACTR, Inc Private
New England Tree Climbing Association Private
Tree Climbers International Private

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