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Tree Climbing Schools and Training Programs: How to Choose

While it is not possible to earn a degree specifically in tree climbing, schools that offer training programs for arborists typically include courses in the curriculum. There are also standalone courses available for aspiring arborists as well as recreational tree climbers.

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Students who want to improve their tree climbing skills, either for arborist work or for recreational purposes, can find relevant certificate and standalone courses at colleges and universities around the country.

Schools with Tree Climbing Courses

These schools offer certificate programs or standalone courses that include tree climbing training:

College/University Location Institution Type Program Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Public Standalone Courses $288-388**
Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 4-year, Public Standalone Course N/A
Mid-State Technical College Wisconsin Rapids, WI 2-year, Public Certificate $4,211 in-state
$6,137 out-of-state
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private Standalone Course $525**
Windward Community College Kaneohe, HI 2-year, Public Certificate $2,920 in-state
$7,912 out-of-state
Milwaukee Area Technical College Milwaukee, WI 2-year, Public Certificate $4,360 in-state
$6,286 out-of-state
Allegany College of Maryland Cumberland, MD 2-year, Public Certificate $3,660 in-district, $6,660 in-state
$7,950 out-of-state
Rutgers University Newark, NJ 4-year, Public Standalone Course N/A
North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC 4-year, Public Standalone Course $20-25**
University of Maine Orono, ME 4-year, Public Standalone Course N/A

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics, **School websites

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School Selection Criteria

Here are some things to consider when looking into tree climbing training courses:

  • Some courses provide training for professional arborists, while others are aimed at recreational climbers. Prospective students should look for programs that coincide with their interests in the field.
  • Aspiring arborists may want to find out what the pass rate is for graduates on voluntary professional certification exams, such as those offered by the Tree Care Industry Association and the International Society of Arboriculture.
  • Prospective students may want to look for schools that have a tree climbing club or ascension group, which can provide extracurricular opportunities for tree climbing skill improvement.
  • Tree climbing is an extremely physical activity. Whether enrolling in an arborist program or a recreational tree climbing course, prospective students should make sure they are physically fit enough to safely participate in tree climbing training.

Certificate Programs

Aspiring arborists and other tree workers can get the technical training they need through certificate programs. Students in these programs learn about the basics of tree care, and they may also take basic and/or advanced courses in tree climbing. Some programs include practicums, which can provide real-world experience in the field.

Standalone Courses

There are two types of standalone courses available in tree climbing. Some schools provide continuing education for arborists who want to build their skills in the field without committing to a full certificate program. Alternatively, students may enroll in recreational tree climbing programs, which are most commonly offered through schools' recreation centers. These are for students who want to learn how to climb trees for fun and fitness, not for professional tree work.

It is possible to find tree climbing training through certificate programs and standalone courses at colleges and universities. Students who are looking at programs should consider their educational goals when choosing between programs.

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