What the jargon means: Tree service certifications

When a worker is wielding a chain saw near the top of a tree in your yard, that’s not the time to begin wondering if these guys know what they’re doing.

Every industry has important certifications that identify the specialized capabilities of its practitioners.

Tree services are no different. Hiring a company that carries the right certifications means better work and longer life for the irreplaceable trees that anchor your landscape.

Here are the major certifications for people who work on trees, and what they mean:

1. ISA and TCIA membership

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is the leading scientific and education organization for tree care.

The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) is the leading organization for safety, service standards and management practices for tree-care and landscape companies.

Membership to these organizations provides ongoing access to training and information around tree science and business standards. Consumers can view these memberships as a company’s basic commitment to having updated knowledge and doing quality work in a world where there is constant pressure to cut corners and trim costs.

2. ISA-Certified Arborist

ISA-Certified Arborists are experts in the science of trees – their lifecycle, disease and prevention, routine care and maintenance, risk assessment and more. Certification requires at least 3 years of full-time field experience; a relevant degree in forestry, arboriculture, etc.; and a combination of coursework and testing. Certification is maintained through continuing education or testing.

Any work on your trees should include a certified arborist to ensure current knowledge on the latest risks and diseases to trees in your area, a commitment to best practices in treatment and care, and adherence to the ISA Code of Ethics.

3. Certified Treeworker Safety Personnel

The TCIA’S Certified Treeworker Safety Personnel (CTSP) designation focuses on leadership, hazard control and safety incident prevention. It requires 3 years of full-time field experience with 1 year in charge of safety; a relevant college degree; 10 hours of training and 3 hours of testing. Ten hours of continuing education per year are required to maintain the certification.

A team with at least one CTSP will have a culture of safety and quality – backed up by specific training – to assure any work on your property meets industry best practices.

4. Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ)

Tree risk assessments consider the root characteristics, wood properties, site conditions, biomechanics, and decay and other defects to understand the chances of an individual tree causing damage. The ISA’s Tree Risk Assessment Qualification is a specialized body of knowledge that trains arborists to conduct accurate assessments and make informed decisions on behalf of their clients.

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