Interested in a Career in Arboriculture?
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Interested in a Career in Arboriculture?

What you need to know.....

There are many opportunities to work in the field of arboriculture. Employers across North Carolina seek arborists to fill jobs in urban forestry, municipalities, utilities, landscape contracting, sales, and much more!

You do not have to have a college degree to become an arborist. Training for this career stems from learning on the job and gaining experience and knowledge first hand. Successful arborists display motivation and dedication on the job.   

Types of Jobs in Arboriculture

Commercial Arborist:

Typically a commercial arborist works for a private tree care company. Common duties include planting, pruning and fertilizing trees. You will also diagnose and treat trees that sustained damage from poor environmental conditions, insects, or fungi. Some arborists work with construction and development companies to preserve existing trees on construction sites.

Municipal Arborist:  

A municipal arborist supervises the activities of crews involved in the planting, maintenance, and removal of community trees. The municipal arborist may also:

  1. Review and evaluate tree maintenance needs by reviewing complaints, determine work priorities, and assign work as necessary.
  2. Provide procedural and policy information regarding tree pruning and removal.
  3. Provide advice on proper tree care and how to address disease or pest problems.
  4. Prepare reports regarding tree damage and claims.
  5. Prepare, maintain, update, and review a street tree master plan.
Utility Arborist:

A utility arborist specializes in the maintenance and removal of trees and other vegetation near electric power lines.  They must use equipment that does not interfere with the transmission of electricity.  In addition to working for private and public electrical companies, utility arborists may work as consultants for homeowners, insurance firms, architects, and legal professionals.  As consultants, utility arborists advise their clients on correct methods for tree maintenance, tree health evaluation, and other forestry-related issues. 


A tree climber is responsible for aerial based tasks (tree maintenance, pruning and removal) and work for companies to conduct tree care services on residential and commercial properties​​.  All tree climbers must have specific technical training in various rope and climbing systems, including how to rescue themselves or someone else during an emergency.  Tree climbers should understand proper pruning practices and be skilled with cabling, bracing, bolting, and guying trees and branches. The job may also include operating dangerous equipment, such as a chainsaw, chipper, and stump grinder.

Other Careers in Arboriculture:

Additional job considerations include Grounds Crew Supervisor and Urban Forester.  Visit the Careers in Arboriculture webpage through International Society of Arboriculture to vivew flowcharts and additional career information.

How to Become an ISA Certified Arborist

If you wish to become a certified arborist, you must acquire 3-years of work experience related to tree care.  This field experience includes any work related to tree planting and establishment, pruning, fertilization, disease and insect management, climbing, etc.

Alternatively, you can use a combination of education and work experience to apply for certified arborist status.  If you receive a two-year degree in arboriculture or related field, (i.e. Associates degree), you will only need two years years of work experience before applying for certification.  If you receive a four-year degree in arboriculture, horticulture, forestry or related field (i.e., Bachelor's degree), you will only needone year of work experience prior to application.

Once you have fulfilled the work or education-work experience requirements, you can complete an application through the International Society of Arboriculture.  You must attach a letter of reference from your former / curent emplorer to the application. Visit the Society online to learn more about its elegibility requirements for each of these professional titles:

  1. Certified Arborist
  2. Certified Arborist Utility Specialist
  3. Certified Arborist Municipal Specialist
  4. Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist
  5. Certified Tree Worker Aerial Lift Specialist
  6. Board Certified Master Arborist

After you have submitted your application, the Society will notify you by email when you are approved.  Upon approval, you can enroll in a computer or paper-based exam. Visit the Society's website to find exam dates and locations. You will receive a confirmation packet that identifies your your test date and location. Note, there is an additional fee to take the computer-based exam.

Interested in getting a degree or certificate in arboriculture?

Research horticulture/plant science, forestry, and agriculture-business technology programs at the following North Carolina schools.

Don't see your preferred school on the above list?  Visit the International Society of Arboriculture's Academic Program webpage.

Consider an Arboriculture Certificate Program

Learn about arboriculture, from the basic to the advanced levels, during a 16-week certificate program at Alamance Community College. Whether you are seeking employment as an arborist or want to refresh your skills, this program is for you! Alamance Community College organized this training certificate in collaboration with NC State University, Bartlett Tree Experts and North Carolina Urban Forest Council.

Tree climbing training at ACC

Program Topics:

In-depth instruction is the mission of this training program, covering a diverse array of topics and generating 116 total credit hours.

  1. Pest management
  2. Tree climbing
  3. Equipment operation and maintenance
  4. Business communications
  5. Many more!

Program Delivery:

1 December 2023 through 22 March 2024.  All sessions occur on Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Most sessions will be online but some will be held on the campus of Alamance Communicty College.

Ready to Register?

Visit Alamance Community College online and register by 17 November 2023  Program cost is $186.  

Program Qestions?

Contact Liz Riley, Department Head of Horticulture at Alamance Community College, for more information!  She can be reached by phone (336-506-4219) or email (

Expose Youth to Arboriculture and Urban Forestry

Explore the Urban Forestry Field with Emma!

Want to learn more about th efields of arboricultre and urban forestry?  Follow NCUFC's Spring 2023 Intern, Emma Howrilla, on her blogging adventure!  Each week she will post stories and video entries about her latest findings of what it means to be an arborist (individual tree care worker) and an urban forester (manager of a group of trees in a human community).  

Environmental Education 

Are you an agriculture education teacher?  Do you instruct girl and boy scouts to help them earn a natural resources oriented badge?  Please download our Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Info Packet to access a suite of environmental education activities that are ideal for 6th through 12th graders.  

Career and Job Opportunities

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