There is a difference between being an arborist, or tree surgeon, and an ISA Certified Arborist. Anyone that works on trees can call themselves an arborist and if they do tree pruning, or tree trimming, they can call themselves tree surgeons. No training is necessary for someone to call themselves an arborist or tree surgeon. They just need to buy the equipment necessary to perform tree care services. It requires very little capital investment for a person to buy the equipment necessary to perform tree care services and call themselves an arborist or tree surgeon. A person can buy a pickup truck and chainsaw and start offering tree pruning and call themselves an arborist or tree surgeon. This is not to say that some arborists, or tree surgeons, that started their tree care service this way don’t care about trees. The tree care industry has many arborists, tree surgeons, and tree care services that have started just this way and do perform quality tree care. Nonetheless, consumers of tree care services should know there is a difference between an arborist, or tree surgeon, and an ISA Certified Arborist.
So, how is an arborist, or tree surgeon, different than an ISA Certified Arborist? The difference is the testing, and commitment to ongoing education about the care of trees, an arborist must make to become an ISA Certified Arborist. The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) developed and administers the test that arborists take to become ISA Certified Arborists. Passing the ISA Certified Arborist test does not mean an arborist is an ISA Certified Arborist for life. The designation of ISA Certified Arborist is valid for three years. The ISA Certified Arborist must either retake the arborist certification test when the ISA Certified Arborist designation expires or they must have collected 30 continuing education credits in the past three years. Continuing education credits are obtained by attending tree care related seminars or taking written quizzes and submitting them to the ISA for grading.
There are many arborists and tree surgeons that perform quality tree care service that have yet to make the commitment to become ISA Certified Arborists. Many of these arborists and tree surgeons are realizing that as consumers of tree care services become educated about proper tree care it is worth becoming an ISA Certified Arborist. This notion is gradually increasing the quality of tree care provided by the whole tree care industry.