How to Become an ISA Certified Arborist

Arborist prunning tree branches.

Arborists are professionals educated in the art and science of caring for trees, which includes planting, transplanting, pruning, fertilizing, pest management, and hazardous tree assessment. They may also be trained in related fields such as urban forestry, horticulture, or landscape architecture. Many are skilled in tree removal and value appraisals.

The ISA certified arborist exam is offered at least once a year in Alaska. The different credentials are described below along with links to ISA. For certification requirements and information on the profession of arboriculture and tree care visit www.isa-arbor.com.

Visit www.pnwisa.org, the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture website for regional information, a list of certified arborists in Alaska, and a schedule of exam dates. Computer based exams are also available. You must first submit an application to ISA and receive approval before scheduling an exam. More information and test center locations can be found here.

Which credential is right for you?


If you have questions please contact ISA at 217-355-9411 or cert@isa-arbor.com


ISA Certified Arborist This is the largest group of credential holders. These professional arborists have a minimum of three years experience in some aspect of tree care and have passed an exam developed by an international panel of experts. The exam extensively covers every aspect of tree care and the individuals must have an acceptable level of knowledge in all areas of arboriculture.

ISA Certified Arborist/ Utility Specialist This certification is for professional arborists who are ISA Certified Arborists in good standing and have additional experience in the specialty area of tree care around power lines. The utility specialists work for utility companies, their contractors or consultants. One of the certification objectives is to provide the public and those in government with a means to identify those professionals who have demonstrated, through a professionally developed exam and education program, that they have a thorough knowledge of line clearance vegetation management.



ISA Certified Arborist/ Municipal Specialist This certification is also for professional arborists who are ISA Certified Arborists in good standing and have additional experience in the specialty area of urban trees. The municipal specialists work for cities and states, parks, contractors or consultants. One of the certification objectives is to provide the public and those in government with a means to identify those professionals who have demonstrated, through a professionally developed exam and education program, that they have a thorough knowledge of establishing and maintaining trees in a community.



ISA Certified Tree Worker/Climber Specialists These credential holders have a minimum of 18 months experience professionally climbing trees in a safe and efficient manner to perform tree care. They have knowledge in the major aspects involved in tree care including, pruning, removal, cabling and safety. They must pass a knowledge exam and a skills exam conducted by trained evaluators.

ISA Board-Certified Master Arborist This credential is designed for arborists who have reached the pinnacle of their profession. To sit for the exam, individuals must be a Certified Arborist in good standing and have obtained other prerequisites, or "points" defined by ISA. A minimum of eight points are required, obtained through measurable experience, formal education, related credentials, or professional experience. The computer-based exam covers science, practice and management.