The Six ISA Certifications

The first step toward becoming ISA Certified is to decide which certification credential is right for you. Each of the six ISA certification credentials is earned by passing a different exam. The exams listed on the ISA site that take place in the New England are administered by the NEC-ISA. Each credential has its own handbook and study materials, listed below. Please see the certification handbook for the full list of requirements and details about the application process. ISA Credentials Quick Guide.

ISA Certified Arborist

To earn an ISA Certified Arborist credential, you must be trained and knowledgeable in all aspects of ISA-Certified-Arborist Logoarboriculture. ISA Certified Arborists must also adhere to the Code of Ethics that strengthens the credibility and reliability of the workforce. This certification is accredited by the American National Standards Institute, meeting and exceeding ISO 17024.

To be eligible for the ISA Certified Arborist exam, you must have one or both of the following:

  • Three or more years of full-time, eligible, practical work experience in arboriculture

  • A degree in the field of arboriculture, horticulture, landscape architecture, or forestry from a regionally accredited educational institute

The ISA Certified Arborist exam is a written test consisting of 200 multiple-choice questions. Candidates who are members of ISA and an ISA chapter or associate organization receive an exam discount. If the exam is sponsored by an ISA chapter or associate organization, the fee is $170 for members and $280 for nonmembers. For those who elect the computer-based testing option, there is a computer-based testing administrative fee of $125 in addition to the exam fee. The administrative fee applies each time a computer-based exam is scheduled. To be eligible for the discounted rate, a candidate must be a current member of ISA and a current member of an ISA chapter or associate organization.

Resources and Materials

ISA Certified Arborist Utility Specialist

This certification is for current ISA Certified Arborists that already work in utility vegetation management. You Utility-Aroborist Logowill be tested on topics such as electric utility pruning, program management, integrated vegetation management, electrical knowledge, customer relations, and storm response.

To be eligible for the exam, you must be an ISA Certified Arborist and have one or both of the following:

  • A minimum of 2,000 hours experience over two years in electric utility vegetation management
  • A minimum of 4,000 hours over ten years or less as a consultant to a utility

The examination is made up of 115 multiple-choice questions. Depending on the expiration time frame and whether the applicant is a current ISA and/or Chapter member, the ISA Certified Arborist Utility Specialist exam costs between $75-$260. In addition to the exam fee, there is a computer-based testing administrative fee of $125 USD for those who elect the computer- based option. The administrative fee applies each time a computer-based exam is scheduled.

Resources and Materials

ISA Certified Arborist Municipal Specialist

This certification is for current ISA Certified Arborists who have chosen municipal arboriculture or urban Municipal-Arborist Logoforestry as a career path. You will be tested on public relations, administration, risk management, policy, and planning.

To be eligible for the exam, you must be an ISA Certified Arborist and have the following:

  • A minimum of three additional years of work experience managing the establishment and maintenance of urban trees
  • Experience with communication skills, public relations, administration, risk management, arboricultural practices, and policy planning in a municipal setting

The examination is made up of 115 multiple-choice questions. Depending on the expiration time frame and whether the applicant is a current ISA and/or Chapter member, the ISA Certified Arborist Utility Specialist exam costs between $75-$260. In addition to the exam fee, there is a computer-based testing administrative fee of $125 USD for those who elect the computer- based option. The administrative fee applies each time a computer-based exam is scheduled.

Resources and Materials

ISA Certified Tree Climber

This certification is designed for those who often climb trees as part of their job in the tree care industry. To become an ISA Certified Tree Climber, you must have the skill and endurance to climbISA Certified Tree Climber Logo trees, demonstrate high regard for safety, and be able to get the job done off the ground.

To be eligible for the exam, you must have the following:

  • 18 months of climbing experience in arboriculture
  • Current training in a physical (practice) aerial rescue, CPR, and First Aid

Important applicant, candidate and credential holder information is available on this program guide. More information about eligibility and certification requirements, as well as enrollment fees and conditions, are also included in this guide. 

Candidates and credential holders understand and agree to comply to a Code of Ethics. 

What's on the exam(s)?

The examination consists of two parts:

  • The written portion is made up of 65 multiple-choice questions. Each question has four possible answers listed, only one of which is correct. You will have 1.5 hours (90 minutes) to complete the written exam.
  • The skills-based part of the exam is an outdoor practicum. You will have 45 minutes to safely and successfully complete it.

Click here to learn more about the written exam.

Click here to view the examination form and required performance for the skills exam. 

Exam Dates, Locations, and fees

The written examination can be taken through an authorized Pearson Vue test center. You can view skills examination events that are scheduled throughout the world by clicking here

Candidates who are members of ISA and a chapter or associate organization receive an exam discount. If the exam is sponsored by an ISA chapter or associate organization, the fee is $135 for members and $195 for nonmembers. For those who elect the computer-based testing option, there is a computer-based testing administrative fee of $125 in addition to the exam fee. The administrative fee applies each time a computer-based exam is scheduled. To be eligible for the discounted rate, a candidate must be a current member of ISA and a current member of an ISA chapter or associate organization.

Información en español

El programa ISA Certified Tree Climber está diseñado para quienes trepan a los árboles con frecuencia como parte de su trabajo en la industria del cuidado de árboles.

El programa ISA Certified Tree Climber es la única certificación global de trepadores en toda la industria que evalúa conocimientos y habilidades frente a estándares aceptados internacionalmente relacionados con habilidades y prácticas laborales seguras. Como parte integral de su trayectoria profesional, ser un profesional en trepa de árboles certificado por la ISA le permite demostrar sus competencias como trepador y demonstrar su pasión continua por el aprendizaje y el desarrollo en esta industria.

En esta guía del programa se encuentra disponible toda la información para solicitantes, candidatos y titulares de credenciales.

resources and materials

ISA Tree Worker Aerial Lift Specialist

This certification is for tree workers who specialize in aerial lift work. To become certified as an ISAISA Tree Worker Aerial Lift Specialist Logo Tree Worker Aerial Lift Specialist, you must demonstrate your ability to perform as a competent aerial lift operator. For this credential, you will be tested in both a classroom setting and a field setting.

To be eligible for the exam, you must have the following:

  • Eighteen months of experience in arboriculture and at least six months of experience in the operation of an aerial lift device within those 18 months
  • Current training in a physical (practice) aerial rescue, CPR, and First Aid

Candidates who are members of ISA and a chapter or associate organization receive an exam discount. If the exam is sponsored by an ISA chapter or associate organization, the fee is $135 for members and $195 for nonmembers. For those who elect the computer-based testing option, there is a computer-based testing administrative fee of $125 in addition to the exam fee. The administrative fee applies each time a computer-based exam is scheduled. To be eligible for the discounted rate, a candidate must be a current member of ISA and a current member of an ISA chapter or associate organization. 

For more information on how to become an ISA Certified Tree Worker Aerial Lift Specialist:

Certified Tree Worker Aerial Lift Specialist Study Materials

While you may use any materials you choose during your exam preparation, we encourage you to use materials that are grounded in best practices and scientific theory, and those that are supported by external reviewers, such as accreditation organizations or governing bodies. ISA offers a full list of recommended study resources that cover multiple domains in each handbook and in the ISA webstore.

ISA Board Certified Master Arborist

This credential is the highest level of certification offered by ISA, which recognizes ISA Certified Arborists Board-Certified-Master-Arborist Logoat the pinnacle of their profession. In addition to passing an extensive scenario-based exam, candidates must adhere to a Board-Certified Master Arborist Code of Ethics. Fewer than two percent of all ISA Certified Arborists currently hold this certification.

To be eligible for the exam, you must be an be an ISA Certified Arborist in good standing and have a sufficient amount of any or all of the following:

  • Measurable experience
  • Formal education
  • Related credentials
  • Professional experience

The examination is made up of 165 multiple-choice questions. Pictures and descriptive information may be included with exam questions when necessary to further explain the scenarios being tested. Candidates who are members of ISA and an ISA chapter or associate organization receive an exam discount. The fee is $495 for members and $605 for nonmembers. To be eligible for
the discounted rate, a candidate must be a current member of ISA and a current member of an ISA chapter or associate organization.

Resources and Materials