Arboriculture is the science of caring for and maintaining trees, including planting, pruning, removing and inspecting. It includes knowledge of the characteristics and structure of trees, soils and diseases. A licensed arborist is trained in the proper procedures for all aspects of tree care. It is also necessary to have a solid understanding of the risks involved in working on large trees. It is not uncommon for amateurs to attempt tree work without the proper training licensed arborist or equipment, and it can be dangerous for both homeowners and those hired to perform the work. A licensed arborist is insured against any on-the-job injuries or damage. When choosing an arborist, be sure to ask for proof of insurance. It is important that an arborist carry workers’ compensation, general liability and property damage insurance. You should also verify that they are members of professional organizations such as the International Society of Arboriculture or the Tree Care Industry Association. Although membership in these groups does not guarantee quality or skill, it does show a commitment to the profession.
A licensed arborist is required to meet specific qualifications, such as passing a rigorous exam and having a minimum of three years of experience. The ISA certification exam covers a variety of topics, including tree identification, pruning techniques, risk assessment and cabling. It also requires the applicant to have a basic understanding of the field of arboriculture, which includes tree biology, types of operations performed on trees, pesticide safety and diagnosing and treating specific diseased or insect-infested trees.
The process for becoming a licensed arborist can be lengthy and complicated. First, applicants must pass a background check and criminal record search. Then, they must obtain a letter of recommendation from three previous employers or clients. Then, they must take the ISA Arborist Examination, which is comprised of two parts: a theory exam and a practical exam. The theory exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions, and the practical exam includes tree climbing, pruning and stump grinding. The ISA website offers an extensive list of resources to help candidates prepare for the exam, including study guides, sample questions and practice exams.
In addition to obtaining a license, arborists must have a number of other credentials and insurance requirements. Those who wish to perform tree services in public areas, such as parks or along city streets, must have a permit from the relevant government agency. It is also essential for them to abide by a code of ethics and adhere to a set of standards for professional arboriculture.
The ISA offers an online directory of credential holders, which is a good place to start a search for qualified individuals. You can use the tool to search for an arborist by name, location or ISA credential level. The results may not include all credential holders in your area, but they should provide a good starting point. You can also contact an ISA credential holder directly to learn more about their qualifications and experience.