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Becoming and Arborist

Discussion in 'Arborist 101' started by mattfr12, Dec 23, 2007.

  1. mattfr12

    mattfr12 The Bulldog

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    Ive been in the tree care buisness for a good while now and am looking into becoming certified i live in PA and work for Bartlett Tree Experts, the other arborists thier told me you have to work under an Arborist for 3 years before you can get certified is this true? Also can you take the test online and where to get study materials.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2007
  2. clearance

    clearance Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Lie

    No, it is not true. In fact you do not have to work at all to become an ISA certified arborist. You can become one without ever having even started a saw, much less actually climbed a tree with one. And once certified you can tell experienced men who have actually done treework for years what to do, what a freakin joke that is.

    My advice is to work with experienced guys for a while and learn how to do it, for real. We have a saying "textbook hero-workplace zero", good luck.
     
  3. mattfr12

    mattfr12 The Bulldog

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    ive been climbing trees for years for large reputable companies im in a tree 5 days a week yearly i have plenty of experience im just looking at expanding my horizon. having a certification will just make me look better, and get me a raise at work why wouldnt i want to do this? would just make me more money. Plus its a must for some of the work im looking into getting into some areas around here wont even look at you for contract work if your not an arborist?
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2007
  4. mattfr12

    mattfr12 The Bulldog

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  5. ropensaddle

    ropensaddle Feel Lucky

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    You can not test online you set up and pay to take the test
    in your chapter or where ever they are testing you will need study
    materials and is in your favor to become a member to get discounts
    on the materials to pass and also testing costs.
    These materials are not cheap but are tax deductible!!!!!
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2007
  6. clearance

    clearance Addicted to ArboristSite

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    There you go, like I said. I have met many ISA arborists, the ones who actually have climbed trees are the ones I respect, for the most part. It is an illusion of competence in many cases.
     
  7. ropensaddle

    ropensaddle Feel Lucky

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    Becoming an arborist is a milestone from reaching a level
    of personal achievement! I would say knowledge obtained
    in study would give you a clearer view of what an arborist
    truly is. I used to think similar to clearance until preparing
    for the test, as a very well seasoned climber I understand
    the fear of someone knowing a little more than you.
    When that finally becomes a driving force to learn new
    ways and practice you have caught on and learning
    becomes a desire.
     
  8. clearance

    clearance Addicted to ArboristSite

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    As I said, I have respect for ISA arborists who have worked, that is, physically. I know that there is much more to trees than how to cut them down, but, the reason I have such a problem with the ISA certification is that you can become certified without ever having done anything. And thats where the problems start, and there are ISA arborists who make decisions that are just crazy, and risk peoples lives, electrical dependability and so on.

    They ask people to climb stone cold dead leaners, they leave pos big cottonwoods hanging over houses when similar ones beside them have failed, they leave trees beside the powerline, alone, when all trees around have been cut down, because that one tree had no defects (but is leans towards the line, alone). I could go on and one, but its akin to an engineer telling an ironworker how to build a bridge, when they should just give him the paln and leave.

    ISA people, unless they are experienced, competent workers, should just ask the guys that do the work for what they want-if its possible, and if its advisable. Put it another way, who do you want as your groundsman, the guy who has read some books and seen some tapes, or the guy who has pulled off a thousand tops and run saws for thousands of hours?
     
  9. B-Edwards

    B-Edwards Addicted to ArboristSite

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    The smartest guy I ever met said (I dont know). You can't learn enough ,you will never learn enough. ISA cert is a great thing to have .You will learn things in obtaining the certification that most who dont have it will not know. There are things you will only learn climbing ,felling,grinding stumps, filing saw chain, replacing clutches,ect ect ect ect ect . Get the ISA certification and be proud of it. It takes everything to be great.
     
  10. M.D. Vaden

    M.D. Vaden Addicted to ArboristSite

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    First and foremost, aim for becoming a "Horticulturist" in your mentality. That's often the link that's missing from a good number of "arborists" and a good number of "landscapers".

    Horticulture is the pre-eminent level of landscape and grounds care, under which arboriculture, landscaping and maintenance are all placed.

    You don't have to master horticulture, but you want to respect and preserve that mentality. That will help you be an even better arborist, with a more complete understanding of the big picture.

    Step back for a moment, and think about what your shared . Other "arborists" led you to believe that you had to work under an arborist for a few years to become one, or be certified as one.

    That conveys that either you misunderstood them, or they presented an incomplete picture of how our industry functions.

    Someone can take the ISA tests for becoming a Certified Arborist via other alternatives. The alternatives could include botanical garden employment, golf course maintenance, landscape maintenance and contracting, a combination of those. Unless they changed it in the past few years, but I think the flexibility is still there.

    Even a landscape architect in our town, who I believe may have virtually no professional pruning or arborist experience, qualified to take the exam and passed to become a Certified Arborist.

    Now that wouldn't be the arborist which I would hire for a lot of pruning, but he did get get a college degree, a lot of his own type of experience, and learned enough tree care to get above the bar for certification.

    Also, that landscape architect does something I respect - he does not work outside his league. He does not bid for professional pruning or large tree work. He uses the certification for stages and increments that he can handle.

    So.... no two arborist are alike, and there are a half dozen ways of getting good at the profession. All you need to do is make sure that each step of the way is a productive and compentent step.

    It sounds like you are already in a good company to help reach your goal.
     
  11. D Mc

    D Mc ArboristSite Operative

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    Matt, Go for it, you'll never regret it. I had a lot of the same, strong feelings that Clearance has before my wife started studying for her certification. Now mind you, I have been doing tree work for close to 40 years and she has been working with me for over 20. I know a lot about trees. I know a lot about trimming and removals. I was astounded by what I didn't know! And it has changed our whole perspective on how we look at things. I find the influx of knowledge to be self-perpetuating and invigorating. Clearance points out his runins with bad Cert. Arborists. That's going to happen. Nobody needs to point out how many hack and slash cutters are out there with lots of time running saws who call themselves tree men and climbers. They wouldn't recognize apical dominance if it smacked them on top of the head!

    Go for it. D Mc

    Note from S Mc (the wife): When I made the decision to go for certification, I called ISA to find out about the requirements re experience. I was told to get three referrals verifying MY experience from clients for at least three years. I joined ISA and the chapter where I wanted to take the test. The study materials I found most helpful were the Arborist Certification Study Guide, Harris' book, Arboriculture, Integrated Management of Landscape Trees, Shrubs and Vines, and Shigo's A New Tree Biology.

    They will send you a list of trees for the identification portion. I would recommend you try to take your test while there are leaves on the trees if they are using live samples. (I found that out the hard way...took the test prior to leaf emergence...OMG!) I arrived at the site a day early to study the trees, as they may take samples from what is on site. Very helpful!

    As my husband said, go for it. Certification has made a big difference for us. We ran into a situation this last year where the "clout" it gave us helped go against some really bad decision making on the part of the city on sidewalk issues.

    So in my instance, no I am not a high climber. I don't have "thousands of hours" climbing and wielding a saw. But I am one of the best :censored: groundsmen there is and am VERY proud that I also achieved the Certified Arborist designation and am now going to shoot for Board Certified Master Arborist.

    S Mc
     
  12. M.D. Vaden

    M.D. Vaden Addicted to ArboristSite

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    That reminds me of the flexibility of the Oregon Landscape Contractors Board, because they also accept form letters from customers - so many per year - to allow people to sit for the landscape contractor exams.

    It's worked out fairly good so far, because the people still have to pass the tests anyway, and only about one in ten pass all the exams first time through.

    Seems I managed to be one of the few that passed all the Oregon standard landscape exams in the first sitting, as well as passing all the ISA test domains in the first sitting.
     
  13. treeseer

    treeseer Advocatus Pro Arbora

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    Mario, I agree about seeing arbo under the hort paradigm. We have to be much more than tree cutters if we want to make a difference, and compete against the flood of illegals.

    S Mc, good luck with the BCMA. It's not easy but it demonstrates competence, and is well worth the investment. I just paid the hefty recert fee, gladly.

    I got cert 15 years ago and it was a great career move.

    Many see the problems clearance points out. We feel your pain! and the qualification problems are being worked on. I'm not confident they will be resolved very soon, but there they are.
     
  14. mattfr12

    mattfr12 The Bulldog

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    Thanks for the advice guys like most of you already said in other ways im just looking at expanding my capabilities. It will get me a raise at work at wich i already am a climber. And i couldnt count the hours in a tree because i was full time at all the tree companies i worked for and climb everday except for sat/sun. I just think it will better prepare me for my service i provide.
     
  15. D Mc

    D Mc ArboristSite Operative

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    Matt, one more thing. I joined ISA when applying for the Certification as I quickly made up that cost in reduced fees on literature, books and the test itself. However, everything adds up. I bought the Cert. Study Guide but requested the other two books I mentioned above through interlibrary loan, which helped defray the costs initially. I have since purchased them to add to our reference library but at least that spread out the cost.

    Good luck. S Mc
     
  16. BostonBull

    BostonBull Addicted to ArboristSite

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    You should come up to Massachusetts and take the MCA exam. It is widely regarded as the toughest in the country. And the ISA test is based on it. When the ISA test first came out they actually "grandfathered" (just gave) MCA's their ISA certificate!

    If you can pass the MCA exam not only is it more rewarding, but you'll fly through the multiple choice LOL!!! ISA test.

    Good Luck and you will be that much further ahead, and more valuable to yourself and your co and clients no matter what you take and PASS.

    Stay Safe!
     
  17. RedlineIt

    RedlineIt AboristSite Guru

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    Test online? Nope, a pet peeve of mine. (More on that in a bit.)

    Matt, I see you work for Bartlett. Ask your rep or area manager to guide you through the process. Some of the big brained Phd's that wrote the ISA Certification Study Guide have worked at or consult with the Bartlett labs in the Carolinas. Some of these Bartlett Phd's helped write the test. I'd be surprised if your office doesn't have a Study Guide to loan you.

    Also, Bartlett has an in-house study program, kind of an "ISA cert lite". Buddy of mine tells me it's three chapters, I've had a look at it, easy program, knock it off over a couple of weekends, content and test questions are straight off the ISA Exam, plus you get a small cash bonus from Bartlett upon completion. Start there, if you find it tough, you maybe need more knowledge, if you find it easy, full speed ahead!

    Davey Tree has a similar in-house program for it's employees, with some of the exact same study pages and test questions as the Bartlett program with the added advantage that it is available online. You need a Davey employee number to log in. Fair enough.

    Which leads me to this: I'm certified by the ISA and I'm certified in other fields. In those fields which do not require field testing, everything has gone to online testing.

    WHY is the ISA Certification Exam not online?

    The way it is now, If I live in Prince George, B.C. and the testing (as it recently was available) is in Vancouver, I have to say goodbye to my family for four days, drive a solid ten hours, rerouting if my intended pass is closed due to bad weather, (which it was). Then I arrive late and intend to pay for my Hotel room which has been denied because of my late arrival. Then I drive around looking for any motel in a strange City with a vacancy sign.

    Finally settled in for three hours of sleep, I need to get up early because I'm not where I intended to be for the test, splash water on my face, check my map and bolt out the door, intending to make good time to the testing site. No luck, I'm in a strange city, I'm stuck in traffic. I'm stuck in traffic that I don't know.

    ------------------

    Why is the ISA test NOT available online? There was nothing in the test that required that I be 1000 Km away from my family.

    Why is the ISA test NOT available online? If the ISA were actually serious about being "green" they would add up the cost of the testees who must travel to their limited testing sites.

    Why is the ISA test NOT available online? They're not smart enough to figure it out. I'll give the ISA a dummy on this, they don't have anyone bright enough working on it.

    Why is the ISA test NOT available online? Jobs for the knobs. After all, if I could take the test online, what would cousin Freddie do?

    Why is the ISA test NOT available online?

    You tell me.
     
  18. BostonBull

    BostonBull Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I believe it is so you cant cheat. Whay make an already simple test, unfailable? You could very easily sit there with a book and look up the answers. You would have to make the test either HARDER or NON multiple choice on the ID and such.


    On a side note..........its not the ISA fault you live in eastbumfuk! Move closer to a bigger city.
     
  19. mattfr12

    mattfr12 The Bulldog

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    hey boston bull i like your dog i have a bulldog also she will be one year old dec 31. [​IMG]
     
  20. Bermie

    Bermie Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Hmmmm, anybody taken the test overseas?
    I want to do the ISA exam, getting ready to review the materials, BUT will they send the test over here to our College, or will I have to buy a plane ticket to get to the 'mainland' do sit a three hour exam?

    Suppose I really should ask them direct...:chainsaw:

    PS, I agree with Clearance...in my opinion the ISA Certified Arborist is of much more value if the holder is or has been a climber as well.
    Applied knowledge PLUS theoretical knowledge makes for a better certification in our field at this level.

    I already have a string of UK qualifications, but I feel it is to my advantage to keep adding a more to diversify the range of qualifications, not only are you then 'multi faceted' but you refresh your study skills and come across new information every time you set to studying for another bit of paper....let the learning continue.....:chainsaw:
     

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