How to Become a Certified Arborist Online

Dec 09, 2019

Arborists help trees and shrubs maintain a healthy lifecycle, in part by cutting away dead growth. Find out more about this career, as well as the steps you can take online to prepare for a job as an arborist.

Information on the Arborist Career

Arborists can be responsible for planting trees, safely transporting them, pruning and shaping, and keeping trees healthy, by diagnosing problems and troubleshooting solutions. They work with a variety of tools, including manual hand tools, truck-mounted lifts, and industrial wood chippers. Since many aspects of gaining certification are typically completed in-person, this career can be somewhat challenging to prepare for online.

Required Skills Physical strength and stamina, organizational skills, spatial awareness
Job Growth 10% for 2018-2028 (tree trimmers and pruners)*
Median Salary (2018) $18.36 per hour (tree trimmers and pruners)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Steps for Becoming a Certified Arborist Online

Many of the steps toward becoming a certified arborist can be completed using online resources, although some aspects do require in-person work, as shown in the following.

Step 1: Learn Arborist Skills

Arborists typically have to know a lot about different types and species of trees, including growing patterns, light requirements, acceptable climates, and ideal soil conditions. They also need to know how to identify, correctly prune, plant, and replant trees. Many of these skills can be learned with the help of online resources. There are a number of online guides for tree identification, planting information, growing information and more. Some employers might hire inexperienced workers and train them while on the job, which can be a productive way to learn more skills and gain experience.

Step 2: Consider a Relevant Bachelor's Degree

While it is possible to work as an arborist without a degree, some employers do prefer to hire candidates with bachelor's degrees, and some businesses might require it, especially those involved in the more complicated aspects of arboriculture. Degree holders might also find promotion more accessible. There are fully online options available for degrees in horticulture, urban forestry or natural resources, for example, which can be useful degrees to hold toward working in this career field. Bachelor's degrees are typically four-year programs. Depending on the exact program, those who choose a degree route can learn more about plant identification, pest management, and cultivation, as well as agriculture-based finance and industry-relevant legal codes.

Step 3: Prepare for Arborist Certification

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) offers a Certified Arborist program that is accredited by the American National Standards Institute. In order to qualify for the certification exam, applicants must have at least three years of full-time, hands-on related experience or a degree in a relevant field, which could be earned online. Preparing for this certification can be done with the help of online resources. ISA offers test guides through the Online Learning Center. Some features of this online practice program include over 750 practice questions, terminology guides, interactive lessons, and more. There are also third-party sites that offer practice tests and flashcards online to prepare for this certification test. The exam itself, however, will need to be taken in-person at a Pearson or ISA-approved testing site during one of the scheduled exam times.

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