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How To Become An Arborist [5 Simple Steps to Take]

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Do you enjoy taking care of your garden and working outside?

Learning how to become an arborist might be the right job for you. But you’re not alone if you don’t know the proper steps.

Luckily, you’ve come across this article. In our step-by-step guide, we’ll explain how to become someone who cares for trees professionally.

An Overview of Arborist: A Primer

If you’re interested in learning about trees, enjoy caring for plants, or prefer to work outside, you should consider becoming an arborist.

An arborist works in arboriculture, which involves caring for different plants, vines, shrubs, and trees.

Sometimes called a tree surgeon, this person prunes and maintains trees by cutting off low-hanging and sick branches to keep them in perfect shape.

Arborists also monitor different plants by looking for signs of diseases and pest infestations.

As an arborist, you do several landscaping duties based on scientific principles to keep trees in the best shape.

You might have to study the soil before or after planting trees to assess its condition, amend it if necessary, and detect any potential problems affecting the landscape later on.

Arborists work according to client’s needs, but they also assess the trees’ current and future situation.

They should be able to determine the best way to prune a tree without killing it.

They decide on suitable insecticides and pesticides to use in a garden, guaranteeing that they won’t harm nearby plants or affect wildlife forms in the area.

A climbing arborist must be fit enough to climb trees to use ropes, braces, and other safety equipment. They should also have the physical strength to remove the large limbs.

Arborists’ duties can be summarized as follows.

  • Assessing soil conditions and fixing them before planting any plants.
  • Landscape planning according to the climate, soil conditions, and clients’ requests.
  • Planting different trees and shrubs.
  • Maintaining turf and treating any issues.
  • Guiding gardeners and groundkeepers.
  • Doing and recording tree maintenance activities according to a schedule.

How Much Do Arborists Make?

Arborists are in high demand. More people realize the importance of high-quality landscapes, as studies show that a good landscape status can result in a 15% to 20% increase in your property’s value.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts arborist employment opportunities will grow by 7% by 2030.

As a result, there’s a good chance you can secure a gig if you’re interested in learning about plants and how to take care of them.

The average annual salary of an arborist is $41,881, with an hourly rate of $20.14. It’s about $9 higher than the average hourly rate in the US.

Beginner arborists can make as low as $14 per hour, while the most experienced ones make about $27 hourly, with an annual salary of about $57,000.

Arborists who work for the federal government make more money, with an average annual salary of $63,710.

However, it’s hard to find such a job, as most arborists find jobs with local governments, agencies, and the private sector.

Those working in Alaska earned a higher-than-average annual salary of $63,500. Working in Illinois, Wyoming, Connecticut, and California can also secure a higher-than-average salary for arborists.

What You’ll Need to Become an Arborist and Associated Costs

Your passion for working with trees isn’t enough to work as an arborist. You need to study before you can become an ISA-certified arborist to find a reputable job or start your landscaping business.

No one will hire you without education and training because you might damage their landscape.

Untrained arborists can also make several mistakes, like over-pruning trees and shrubs to the point of killing them. They can accidentally remove healthy trees.

Their actions can negatively impact the ecosystem and affect wildlife. They can also result in liability.

So, to become a reputable and certified arborist, you should follow these steps.

1. Get Educated

Tree maintenance companies expect you to have at least a high school diploma before hiring you to work as an arborist.

A degree in horticulture, forestry, or environmental science can improve your chances in the market.

However, some employers don’t care that much if you have formal education because you’ll have to study to get certified.

2. Earn a License

If you choose to become an arborist in Hawaii, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, California, Maryland, or Louisiana, you must study for your ISA license.

Before you attempt to work as an arborist, you should check your state’s requirements. A local arborist license will be needed in other states if you want to work with a reputable employer.

If your work involves working around farms and large pieces of land, you must hold a valid driving license to drive a truck.

3. Get Your ISA Certification

Many employers prefer to hire certified arborists who finished the Arborist Certification Program or ACP from the ISA or the International Society of Arboriculture Credentialing Council.

Training material is available through the ISA. You can also find special courses that teach you about this profession.

After finishing your studies, you’ll have to pass an exam to work in any of the previously mentioned states. In other states, the certificate will improve your employment chances in the market.

You’ll have to sit for a 3.5-hour exam. It involves 200 MCQs, and you must pass it to receive your certificate.

4. Learn About Safety Measures

Working as an arborist or tree surgeon involves some safety concerns. You should be well-trained to work without harming yourself and those around you.

A crucial part of your training involves using various power tools like chainsaws.

You should also be able to deal with multiple insecticides, fertilizers, and pesticides and understand how to apply them, as they can have adverse health effects.

You should learn how to wear and use protective gear and act in case of an injury. You might have to carry heavy limbs or work around power lines, so be careful.

5. Get Trained

Nothing beats hands-on training when you’re attempting to work as an arborist. It’s a good idea to apply for a training job or apprenticeship with a tree care company, where you get to work with professionals.

On-site training will teach you a lot about the basics of this profession, how to deal with equipment, identify sick trees, and maintain them properly. You’ll also see how professionals handle work-related problems.

6. Find Your Speciality

The more you train, the more you learn about this profession and what interests you the most. This will enable you to find and apply for jobs that interest you the most.

You should prove you have good problem-solving, leadership, and team-woking skills. Employers prefer arborists who have hands-on experience and are willing to put more effort into their work.

Afterward, you can apply for other ISA credentials like becoming an arborist utility specialist, tree worker climber, or tree risk assessment specialist. You’ll also be eligible for starting a lawn care business.

How Much Does it Cost to Become an Arborist?

Apart from the exam cost, you don’t have to worry about the costs of becoming an arborist.

Typically, you’ll have to pay $280 to sit the exam. If you’re a member of the ISA and an ISA chapter or associate organization member, you’ll pay $170.

The exam can also be computer-based. If you prefer this option, you’ll have to pay an extra fee of $125.

Some arborists choose to become first-aid certified. A course costs about $70, while some specialized training will cost more.

In most states, you don’t need a driving license to drive a tractor. However, you must hold a commercial driving license or CDL if you want to drive a truck.

The cost of getting your license differs according to the school you pick, but it can be between $3,000 and $10,000.

Is it Hard to Become an Arborist?

Becoming an arborist isn’t hard if you have the patience to learn this profession. You don’t have to study unless you want to receive a certificate, but you must train hard.

The physical hands-on training is more challenging than the theoretical part of this job because you have to deal with dangerous equipment.

Arborists face several hazardous situations as they work close to power lines, so they must always be alert.

How Long Does it Take to Become an Arborist?

To become a certified arborist, you must spend at least 900 hours of assessed training. This should involve a minimum of 90 hours directly related to arboriculture.

That’s about three years of full-time experience and a year for test preparation. So, you’ll need at least four years to become a professional arborist.

After that, you should spend two years of full practice as an arborist. Most companies won’t hire you unless you provide proof of such experience, even if a certificate isn’t required.

Your preparation time will decrease if you hold a certificate in a related field. Yet, you should know that it takes four years to get a bachelor’s degree and five or more years to receive your graduate degree.

How to Become an Arborist in Four Simple Steps

If you know someone passionate about the environment, they can do well if they pursue a profession as an arborist. You can become one by following these steps.

1. Get Educated

Your education level will affect the number and nature of employment opportunities you receive once you start looking for jobs in the market. You don’t have to be a college graduate to become an arborist, although a relevant degree will help.

2. Receive Your License

Having a license is only a must in seven states. However, having one will improve your employment opportunities. You should study and complete a course of hands-on training. Then you’ll have to pass an exam.

3. Work on Your Training

You should work on improving your skills through hands-on training. First-aid training will also make you more desirable in the market.

4. Seek Higher Education

Becoming specialized is an excellent way to find a high-paying job. Arborists can work in multiple industries and markets, so being specialized will make you eligible for better jobs.

Reasons to Consider Becoming an Arborist

According to the BLS, the current unemployment rates have increased from 3.4% to 3.7%.

So, finding a job that you’re passionate about guarantees that you’ll be able to enjoy your time while making money. Here are some reasons why you might consider becoming an arborist.

  • You can work in the outdoors.
  • You will learn a lot about wildlife management, tree biology, and urban forestry.
  • You learn about agriculture, architecture, landscaping design, lawn care, pests and diseases, soil, hydrology, and many other disciplines that affect trees.
  • You might have to relocate to warmer regions during winter, so you get to travel and explore.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Highest Level of Arborist?

A Master Arborist, also known as a Board Certified Master Arborist, is someone who has earned the highest level of education from the International Society of Arboriculture. If someone wants to become a Master Arborist, they must pass an extensive exam.

How Physically Demanding is an Arborist Position?

An arborist’s job is physically demanding. It involves a lot of theoretical knowledge about tree anatomy, but the hands-on aspect involves dealing with and carrying heavy and dangerous machinery.

Arborists have to carry large cans of fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides. Tree climbing, carrying large limbs, and dealing with heavy power tools are all part of professional tree pruning.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

If becoming an arborist doesn’t sound like the right thing for you, you can try one of these gigs.

Wrapping Up

You can learn how to become an arborist even if you don’t hold a related degree.

But a relevant degree will make life easier for you, especially if you want to work with a reputable tree care company or start your landscaping business.

This can be the perfect job opportunity for those who like to work outdoors. So, tell us about what you think in the comments and share this article with a tree lover.

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