NZ Arb hosted

ISA Certified Arborist Exam


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ISA Certifications

There are six ISA certification credentials, each of which is earned by passing a different exam. More information can be found on the ISA website.

ISA Certified Arborist

To earn an ISA Certified Arborist credential, you must be trained and knowledgeable in all aspects of arboriculture. This certification covers a large number of topics giving the candidates flexibility in the arboricultural profession.

ISA Certified Arborist Utility Specialist

An ISA Certified Arborist Utility Specialist has a minimum of 2000 hours experience over two years in electric utility vegetation management or has served as a consultant to a utility, with a minimum of 4,000 hours over a maximum 10-year period. The candidate must work in utility vegetation management.

ISA Certified Arborist Municipal Specialist

ISA Certified Arborist Municipal Specialist credential holders are current ISA Certified Arborists who have chosen municipal arboriculture or urban forestry as a career path. They have obtained a minimum of three additional years of work experience managing the establishment and maintenance of urban trees.

ISA Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist

To be an ISA Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist, candidates must have the skill and endurance to climb trees, demonstrate a high regard for safety, and be able to get the job done off the ground.

Certified Tree Worker/Aerial Lift Specialist

The ISA Certified Tree Worker Aerial Lift Specialist certification requires candidates to demonstrate their ability to perform as a competent aerial lift operator.

ISA Board Certified Master Arborist

The ISA Board Certified Master Arborist credential is the highest level of certification offered by ISA. This credential recognises ISA Certified Arborists who have reached the pinnacle their profession.


Certified Arborist Exam

Who is eligible to apply for the Certified Arborist Exam?

The ISA Credentialing Council requires a candidate to have a minimum of three years of full-time experience in arboriculture or a combination of education and practical arboricultural experience.

One year of full-time experience is equal to 2,080 hours of work.

Acceptable experience includes the practical use of knowledge regarding pruning, fertilisation, installation and establishment, diagnosis and treatment of tree problems, cabling and bracing, climbing, or other services that directly relate to arboriculture.


Examples of experience sources include, but are not limited to:

  • Tree care companies

  • Nurseries

  • Landscape companies

  • Municipalities

  • State forestry agencies

  • Utility companies

  • Academic arboriculture/horticulture departments (for instructors)

  • Horticulture extension programs (for advisors)

  • Consultancies

  • Pest control providers (for advisors and applicators)

Documentation of work experience is required with the submittal of application.

Letter(s) of reference from your current or previous employer(s) is acceptable.

Applicable volunteer work may count towards eligibility if it is supervised and documentation detailing the responsibilities and the hours worked can be supplied.

You may meet the eligibility requirement utilising a combination of education and practical arboricultural experience through one of the following options:

  • Completed College/University Accredited Degree Programs

  • Two-year associate degree with a minimum of two courses directly related to arboriculture plus two years of practical full-time experience in arboriculture

  • Four-year bachelor degree with a minimum of four courses directly related to arboriculture plus one year of practical full-time experience in arboriculture

​​What is the Value in Becoming an ISA Certified Arborist®?

ISA Certification is a voluntary program that tests and certifies your achievement of a professional level of knowledge and skill in the field of arboriculture.

When you become an ISA Certified Arborist®, you are recognised by your peers and the public as a tree care professional who has attained a generally-accepted level of knowledge in areas such as tree biology, diagnosis, maintenance practices, safety, and other subject and practice areas within the tree care profession as identified through periodic job task analyses.

Hiring a Certified Arborist provides tree owners and government decision-makers the opportunity to become better informed about proper tree care and their selection of services based on the expertise represented by your credential.


Achieving ISA Certification also builds your self-image. By studying for and passing the certification exam, you demonstrate a dedication to your own professional development and the advancement of proper tree care practices.

The process of becoming ISA Certified and maintaining the designation provides you with a personal incentive to continue your arboricultural education and training.


Presenting your ISA credential to potential employers makes you more competitive in the job market, and for employers, encouraging ISA Certification is a tool to assist in training their existing tree care personnel. 4 ISA Certified Arborist® Application Guide Assessment-Based Certificate Programs (Diplomas, Certificates) 900 hours of assessed training with a minimum focus of 90 hours directly related to arboriculture plus two years of practical full-time experience in arboriculture 1,800 hours of assessed training with a minimum focus of 180 hours directly related to arboriculture plus one year of practical full-time experience in arboriculture Multiple college/university degree programs cannot be utilised to equal requirements for longer programs. Assessment-based certificate programs can be combined to meet the hourly eligibility requirement.

Educational experience must be a completed college/university degree program or assessment-based certificate program. A transcript indicating course/training title and the number of credit hours or hours of completed, assessed training must be submitted with the application.

If you are self-employed or own your own company, you will be required to submit three letters of reference with your application.

References may be in the form of copies of invoices, contracts, and/or business licenses.

The documentation provided must include the practical experience and outline the dates of work required for eligibility.

Please contact ISA for other possible forms of verification.


By submitting your application, you authorise ISA to contact the practical experience reference(s) named on your application to substantiate your eligibility.


​​More information why you can benefit from becoming ISA Credentialed

NZ Arb hosted Certified Arborist Exam

NZ Arb will be hosting a Paper-based Exam during Conference this year in Queenstown.

The Exam will take 3 hours to complete and will be held at 1:00 pm on Tuesday the 10th of November 2020.


Registration Deadline: 23 October 2020

Places are limited - get in quick to secure your place!



ISA Member - $170.00 USD (approx. $263.00 NZD)

ISA Non-Member - $280.00 USD (approx. $432.00 NZD)

To register for this exam - click here: 

More ISA Certified Arborist Exams

Helpful Links and more information

NZ Arboricultural Association​

1/23 Alma St, Buxton Sq, Nelson

PO Box 1193, Nelson 7040

04 472 6330

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