What Is an ISA-Certified Arborist, and Why Should I Work With One?
January 3, 2022
Taking care of your trees is an important part of taking care of your property. Whether you have one small tree or a veritable forest, you probably already know that if you’re seeking the best care possible for your trees, you need to work with tree care professionals dedicated to providing expert tree service. However, not everyone knows that not all tree care professionals are alike! Anyone can call themselves a “tree surgeon” or a “landscaper,” no matter how much experience they have with trees. When scheduling landscape architecture services or just routine tree trimming and pruning, look for the mark of distinction: ISA certification!
ISA-certified arborists sometimes shorten their titles to “certified arborists.” You may also see the phrase “board-certified master arborist.” Whichever title you see, know they all mean the same thing. An ISA/board-certified master arborist is one who’s been accredited by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Arboriculture is the study of tree biology, so it makes sense that the ISA is an organization dedicated to the care of trees.
Some tree care professionals occasionally use the title “arborist.” However, calling yourself a professional arborist does not automatically mean you have received ISA certification. The process of gaining ISA-certified arborist credentials is a lengthy one and truly marks someone as trained and knowledgeable in all aspects of tree care.
How ISA Certification Works
How exactly do tree care workers earn an ISA-certified title? Prospective ISA-certified tree workers must meet the following criteria:
Provide documentation proving they have at least three years of full-time experience working with trees
In order to begin seeking ISA certification, your arborist needs to provide documented proof that they have worked with, treated, and maintained trees full-time for at least three years or more.
Pass a rigorous exam on all aspects of arboriculture to gain full ISA certification
The ISA certification exam is no joke! It’s a beefy 200-question multiple-choice test with additional written exam questions on top of that. Topics on the exam range from soil management to tree risk management to safe work practices, and the threshold for passing is 72% or higher. If someone passes this exam, you can rest assured that they understand all aspects of proper tree care.
Adhere to the Code of Ethics dictated by the ISA
The ISA’s Code of Ethics lays down the expectations for ISA-certified arborists to practice safe work habits, act with professionalism, and above all perform best arboricultural practices at all times. In order to stay ISA-certified, an arborist must follow this code diligently.
Take continuing education units to maintain certification status
ISA-certified arborists are expected to stay on top of new developments in arboricultural practices and standards by taking continuing education courses as needed. They can also specialize in a particular area of tree care by taking specialized courses, further increasing their expertise.
While the benefits of trusting an ISA-certified arborist might already be apparent, there are plenty of people who book services with your average “tree trimming” company. But if you’re serious about making sure your trees are healthy and flourishing, don’t book just any average “tree professional.” Non-ISA-certified tree services usually only offer trimming and removal, which means they might not have the best interests in mind when it comes to the health of your trees. Since ISA-certified arborists are tree specialists, they are trained to truly evaluate your trees and determine the care they need, which can include disease treatment, replanting, or other personalized and specific forms of care.
You can be sure that an ISA-certified arborist will:
- Choose best practices based on tree health, rather than what makes their company or crew money
- Take other factors such as soil health and your local ecosystem into consideration
- Act when they can to help prevent diseases common among local trees before they strike
- Ensure contracts related to tree service are established, signed, and adhered to by all parties
- Avoid improper practices such as removing excessive live wood, topping a tree, using climbing spikes on a tree not being removed, or removing/disfiguring living trees without just cause
Your Trees Deserve the Best!
When you’re scheduling tree care, from pruning large maple trees to treatment for tree diseases, trust ISA-certified arborists to care for your trees with expertise and professionalism. Are you looking for ISA-certified arborists in and around Philadelphia and Bucks County? All The Above Tree Service is the team you can trust. Our board-certified arborists offer best-in-class tree services, and we offer a range of local tree trimming services to meet the needs of any project, large or small. You don’t have to “go out on a limb” when you let us take care of your property. Contact us today!