Can I Receive an Arborist Certification Online?

Although earning a professional designation as an arborist will require some in-person attendance, you can find online training through certification organizations. Read on to learn more about this online certification process. Schools offering Environmental & Social Sustainability degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Arborist Definition

An arborist is a specialized grounds maintenance worker who monitors the health of trees and other foliage, treats infected plants and provides maintenance services. You have several specialization options within arboriculture, including pruning and trimming, diagnosing and treating tree diseases or planting and removing trees. You could also work within several industries, including municipal or urban forestry, private consulting, research, public utilities, construction and gardening.

Important Facts About This Area of Study

Common Courses Horticulture, soil, types of trees
Online Availability Fully available
Possible Careers Commercial arborist, municipal forester, consulting arborist
Continuing Education Some programs require a certain amount of credits every three years.

Certification Options

If you wish to demonstrate your professional competence and improve your chances for better pay or advancement, you could pursue an optional certification or credential. Several professional organizations offer certification, depending on your area of expertise in tree care. If you work in a distinctive area of arboriculture, credentialing organizations also provide several specialty certifications.

Exams for credentials vary and are designed to cover multiple areas of arboriculture. You must be able to demonstrate extensive knowledge and understanding of tree care and arborist safety. A few organizations that offer general and specialty certifications include the American Society for Consulting Arborists (ASCA), the International Society for Arboriculture (ISA) and the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA).

ASCA Certification

The American Society for Consulting Arborists offers a Registered Consulting Arborist (RCA) designation. The credential demonstrates your expertise in providing consultation about tree care to municipalities or home owners. In order to qualify for the credential, you must become an ASCA member, which requires a bachelor's degree or related education and five years' experience. You'll need to attend the organization's Consulting Academy, acquire at least 240 continuing education units (CEU) and pass two reporting exams ( You must complete a certain number of continuing education units every two years to keep your RCA credential valid.

ISA Certifications

The ISA also offers general and specialty certifications, including ISA Certified Arborist, Arborist Utility Specialist, Municipal Specialist, Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist, Tree Worker Aerial Lift Specialist and Board Certified Master Arborist ( The Arborist Certification exam requires at least three years of full-time work experience in arboriculture. Educational experience in the form of an associate's or bachelor's degree in arboriculture may be substituted for up to two years of your professional experience.

You can choose to take the ISA exams as either paper-based tests at a local chapter or computer-based tests at an area computer testing center. Once you're certified, you must complete at least 30 hours of continuing education credits over a 3-year period and pay a fee to maintain your credential, or you may retake the exam. Some specializations require additional continuing education credits.

TCIA Certifications

TCIA offers several certification options, including Tree Care Apprentice, Ground Operations Specialist, Tree Climber Specialist, Aerial Lift Specialist and Tree Care Specialist ( The association also gives you the option to become a Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP). TCIA provides study materials and practice tests through their online store. To take the certification exam, you'll need to attend a 2-day training workshop at one of several locations across the country.

Online Training Options

Each of the above-mentioned certifying organizations offers some form of online training that can prepare you for certification testing or renewal. ISA provides free podcasts and online CEU quizzes. You can also purchase additional CEU quizzes, and as of 2014, you can register for training sessions through its Online Learning Center. Both TCIA and ASCA make online webinars available that cover several seasonal topics in arboriculture, including risk management, hazardous weather conditions, safety issues and regulatory compliance.

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