This week we thought we’d explain what an arborist is and the different types of certifications, since we often receive questions about tree care and we like to refer those questions to our ask the arborist forum.
An arborist is a person trained in the art and science of planting, caring for, and maintaining trees. Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of a wide variety of tree species and are trained with the proper techniques to care for trees (such as pruning, pest and disease management, tree removal, proper selection and planting of a tree, and tree soil fertilization).
Certified arborists are individuals who have attained a level of knowledge through experience and by passing a comprehensive examination developed by some of the nation’s top experts on tree care. Certified arborists must also continue their education to retain their certification and must adhere to a Code of Ethics. The International Society of Arboriculture offers ISA certification to those who would like to voluntarily undergo the process in order to measure their knowledge and competence required to provide proper tree care. ISA certification is not government-sponsored or government-endorsed but rather a way for tree care professionals to show their commitment to the industry.
There are six types of ISA certifications, each of which is obtained by passing a different exam:
· Certified Arborist: three or more years of work experience in arboriculture and/or a degree in the field of arboriculture, horticulture, landscape architecture, or forestry and the passing of an exam
· Arborist Utility Specialist: 2,000 hours experience over two years in electric utility vegetation management or has served as a consultant to a utility, with a minimum of 4,000 hours over a maximum 10-year period. They have been tested on topics such as electric utility pruning, program management, integrated vegetation management, electrical knowledge, customer relations, and storm response.
· Arborist Municipal Specialist: current ISA Certified Arborists® who have chosen municipal arboriculture or urban forestry as a career path. They have obtained a minimum of three additional years of work experience managing the establishment and maintenance of urban trees.
· (Tree Worker) Climber Specialist: must have the skill and endurance to climb trees, demonstrate high regard for safety, and be able to get the job done off the ground. This credential is different from the other certifications because you tested in both a classroom setting and a field setting. Candidates must have training in aerial rescue, CPR, and First Aid to obtain this certification.
· (Tree Worker) Aerial Life Specialist: certification requires candidates to demonstrate their ability to perform as a competent aerial lift operator. The knowledge gained with this certification can improve the productivity, quality of care, and safety practices of those who earn the credential.
· Board Certified Master Arborist: the highest level offered by ISA; in addition to passing an extensive scenario-based exam, candidates must abide by a Code of Ethics, which ensures quality of work. Fewer than two percent of all ISA Certified Arborists® currently hold this certification.
In the next blog we will discuss when you should hire an arborist (versus a landscaper)…
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