Tree Trimming Certification, Training Programs and Classes

Tree trimming requires proper certification and training, administered through designated organizations across the nation. To become a professional arborist also requires passing exams, after taking classes or training programs. View article »

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  • 1:13 Tree Trimming Certifications
  • 3:51 Continuing Education

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Video Transcript

Tree Trimming Training Programs

When considering a job as a tree trimmer, it can be helpful to find out about training opportunities, certification options, continuing education, and job information. Tree trimming programs and classes prepare students for certification or certification renewal. Students have the option of earning a certificate or an associate's degree in arboriculture.

Topics covered in these programs include:

  • Defects and decline in trees
  • Basic tree pruning
  • Tree trimmer safety
  • Pruning and caring for trees
  • Tree climbing
  • Principles of urban forestry

Another option for students is to enroll in a horticulture certificate program, which can assist students in preparing for arboriculture certification exams. Students can also enroll in a standalone tree pruning course that may consist of some classroom based coursework as well as the chance to participate in outdoor activities that provide hands-on experience.

These courses may cover topics such as:

  • Thinning
  • Plant and tool sanitation
  • Cleaning
  • Reduction pruning

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Tree Trimming Certifications

There are many types of tree trimming certifications, including Tree Trimmer I, Tree Trimmer II, and Certified Tree Safety Professional (CTSP), which are available through organizations across the country.

The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) offers the CTSP designation. Individuals interested in becoming a CTSP must fulfill the prerequisites, which give options for accumulating field experience in tree care and safety or earning a degree and completing an internship in arboriculture, ornamental horticulture, or a related discipline.

Candidates must also pass the Safety Fundamentals examination and attend a mandatory workshop that covers topics such as safety management and lets students engage in group exercises, role playing, and skills demonstrations. Certified Tree Safety professionals are expected to maintain their certification, which can be achieved by accumulating 30 continuing education units every three years.

The International Society of Arboriculture (or ISA) offers multiple tree trimming-related designations. These include:

  • ISA Certified Arborist
  • ISA Certified Utility Specialist
  • ISA Certified Municipal Specialist
  • ISA Certified Climber Specialist
  • ISA Certified Aerial Lift Specialist
  • ISA Board Certified Master Arborist

Certification exam content varies by designation. For example, the certified arborist exam might include topics such as tree biology, urban forestry, pruning, diagnosis, and soil management. Exam content for the utility specialist exam may include topics such as electric utility pruning, storm response, electrical knowledge, customer relations and integrated vegetation management.

Interested candidates can complete a paper-based or computer-based exam. The paper-based exam is taken at a predetermined time and location, and exam results are received in 4-6 weeks. The computer-based exam lets students choose their own date and location, but they are required to pay an additional administrative fee. Students completing the computer-based exam receive their test results immediately.

ISA-certified professionals are required to maintain their certification, either by earning continuing education units and paying a recertification fee within the 3-year certification period or by retaking and successfully passing the certification exam.

Continuing Education

In order to maintain licensure, individuals are typically required to earn continuing education units. Workshops and courses are available through a variety of colleges and universities. Often these courses cover particular subjects in which individuals may wish to gain expertise. For instance, education may be available in:

  • Tree support systems
  • Pruning veteran oaks
  • Hazardous tree identification
  • Municipal shade tree management
  • Chain saw safety

Aspiring tree trimmers can benefit from educational training programs and courses, and they can demonstrate their knowledge and skills by earning a professional certification.

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