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How to Become an Arborist

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Some arborists enhance the natural beauty of public and private spaces by selecting appropriate tree species, pruning to remove dead branches and diagnosing and treating tree diseases. Others, such as utility or municipal arborists, maintain and remove trees to ensure power lines and other equipment can operate without interference. Typical employers include utility companies, government bodies, landscapers, tree care companies and botanical gardens. Some arborists choose to become private consultants and contract out their services. Education requirements vary by job type.

Education Requirements

The education requirements for arborists with tree care companies, botanical gardens, golf courses and parks may range from a high school diploma to a postsecondary degree, depending on the employer. Utility company or municipal arborists will likely require a college degree in a field such as botany, forestry or horticulture. Those who want to go into research roles should enroll in master's and doctoral level programs to secure jobs.

Obtaining Certification

Arborists who want to improve their job prospects should consider getting certified. The International Society of Arboriculture offers six certification categories, including arborist, master arborist, and municipal, utility, climber or aerial lift specialist. Candidates must first obtain a set level of experience and education. For example, applicants for arborist certification need at least three years of relevant employment or a four-year degree plus one year of work experience. Fees and exam complexity vary depending on the certification level and whether the applicant opts for the paper-based or computer-based exam. Fees are also higher for non-ISA members than for members. To maintain certification, individuals can either re-take the exam every three years or collect continuing education credits.