Arborist Schools and Training Programs

As an arborist, you would care for and treat trees on a daily basis. You visit locations where trees are diseased or dying and look for unusual coloring or fungal infections. You also educate tree owners on how to plant and care for them. You might work for tree care companies, government agencies or construction companies. Read on to learn about degree programs that prepare you for this career. Schools offering Environmental & Social Sustainability degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need To Know

Degree programs to become an arborist are available at the undergraduate and graduate level. Many of these programs offer concentrations in areas like natural resources and environmental conservation.

Courses Pruning, arboriculture, landscape maintenance, plant propogation
Degrees Associate of Science, Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Ph.D.
Median Salary (2018)* $45,498


What Degree Programs Can Prepare Me to Become an Arborist?

To prepare for an arborist career, consider earning an associate or bachelor's degree in arboriculture or a related field like botany, horticulture or forestry. Arboriculture degree programs provide you with an in-depth study of tree care. However, if you're interested in the broader field of plants, you may prefer horticulture or botany degree programs, which can prepare you for plant-related careers such as landscape management or crop production. Finally, you can expect forestry programs to concentrate on the use of natural resources. Some undergraduate programs offer a combination of on-campus and online courses.

Schools providing undergraduate degrees for aspiring arborists include:

  • Clackamas Community College
  • Spokane Community College
  • Cuyamaca College
  • University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • Clemson University
  • South Dakota State University

Are Graduate Degree Programs Available?

You may continue your education by earning a master's or doctoral degree in these fields or related areas like environmental conservation. Master's degree programs may have thesis or non-thesis options, giving you the option to complete independent research or take a cumulative examination. Doctorate programs culminate in a dissertation based on research. Fully online and hybrid programs are offered at the graduate level. In the hybrid programs, you can complete some courses through distance learning offers while still benefiting from hands-on training on campus.

You can find graduate-level programs at, among others, the following schools:

  • Yale University
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • Oregon State University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Cornell University
  • Northern Arizona University

What Courses Will I Take?

At the undergraduate level, you can expect to take coursework in soil science, plant materials, plant physiology and pest management. You will also take general coursework in chemistry, business communications and biology. Classes focusing on topics for arborists include:

  • Pruning
  • Urban forestry
  • Tree climbing
  • Tree diagnostics
  • Arboriculture tools and equipment

Advanced coursework in master's and doctoral degree programs could include landscape ecology, forest management and tree physiology. You will need to complete a thesis or dissertation for many master's or doctorate degree program; some master's programs are non-thesis.

How Can I Compete in the Career Field?

Look for schools that are partnered with tree-care companies or arborist associations like the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) so that you can fulfill internship opportunities. You may find programs that include fieldwork or incorporate real-world training. For instance, in an equipment techniques course, you may learn to use a chainsaw for pruning. This additional training may help you compete in the workforce.

You may also look for programs that prepare you to become a certified arborist. Though not required for the job, the ISA offers seven certification titles, including certified arborist, certified tree worker climber and certified master arborist. Examinations may test you on knowledge, techniques and ethics. Certification proves your proficiency and may give you an edge when looking for employment.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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