Advanced Training for Certified Arborists in Illinois

Illinois Arborist Association’s Advanced Training Program
Taking Your Career (and number of CEU’s!) to the Next Level with Advanced Training
Steve Lane – IAA President / Advanced Training Chairman

Little Did You Know…

A couple years ago, at our Annual Fall Conference in Tinley Park, I was handed the microphone by Don Roppolo, our outgoing President, to make a short announcement about the IAA’s Advanced Training Program. Just to get a feel for the room, I asked for a quick show of hands of who actually knew that IAA had an Advanced Training Program, and was a little shocked at all of the hands that I DIDN’T see raised. In a room of nearly 1,000 people, there were maybe 30 hands. You may not know this, but IAA Advanced Training has been around for nearly 20 years, and is the longest standing Advanced Training Program for Certified Arborists in the state of Illinois! Well, I saw that the time has come to get this information out there for all of you to start taking advantage of it! Though there are training opportunities for Commercial, Municipal, and Utility Arborists available in the area, it surprised me to see that so many of our members didn’t know that some of the most relevant course topics were being offered to them by their local Illinois chapter of the ISA, by their peers and experts in the field.

What is Advanced Training?

IAA Advanced Training is a program through which you can add to your basic knowledge as a Certified Arborist, and fine tune your skill set to your specific area of expertise. We offer 4 different “Modules”, each tailored to a specific sector of the Tree Care industry, which we will examine in greater detail below. These are: Tree Worker, Tree Site and Selection, Pest Diagnosis and Management, and Urban Forestry. Each of these domains has 4 required classes, and several “elective” classes, one of which you must complete in order get your Advanced Training Module Award (ATMA). This is not a credential you hold with ISA, but it shows an advanced level of industry knowledge, which could have a great effect on your ability to earn more at your current or future positions, and comes with a certificate of completion, as well as an Advanced Training patch to wear proudly on your work gear. We also teach classes downstate and out west as well, so if you’re from south of I-80, or west of I-39, there are opportunities for you as well!

 In addition, you do not have to complete an entire module in order to get recognition for your efforts. Maybe you just want to take a few individual classes here or there to strengthen your skills. That’s fine as well! We also offer the Advanced Training Associates Award (ATAA) for any student who completes 4 required courses in ANY module, plus one elective from any module. All IAA Advanced Training Program Courses are CEU-bearing courses at the standard rate of 1 CEU per hour, and are generally scheduled on nights and weekends so as to not interfere with your normal work schedule. Class cost varies depending on the equipment involved, but are generally $100-200 for around 8 CEU’s (or more), and are taught by local industry leaders in the field of Arboriculture. Your membership dues in part go towards funding this program, so in our continued effort to provide the most value to our members, we figured it was high time we publicized the program a little more. Read below to see the courses and modules you might like to take.


Tree Worker

These Advanced Training courses are intended for the Climbing Arborist who makes their living aloft. Our lead instructors of this Module are Norm Hall (Kinnucan Tree Care) and Eduardo Medina (Davey Tree Experts), who staff their classes with top notch instructors with decades of experience and leadership. They will teach you advanced rigging, felling, knots and ropework, and many other cutting edge techniques to not only make your jobsite more efficient, but smarter and safer as well. The courses offered are:

Present Day Climbing, Entry Level – Required
Present Day Rigging, Level 1 – Required
Pruning – Required
Felling – Required
Chainsaw Safety and Operation – Elective
Aerial Rescue (Tree Rescue) Rope & Harness – Elective
Aerial Lift – Elective
Cabling & Bracing – Elective
Climbing, Level 2 (Level 1 Prerequisite)
– Elective
Rigging, Level 2 (Level 1 Prerequisite) – Elective
Tree Removal with a Truck Mounted Crane – Elective

Tree Site & Selection

Tree Site and Selection is tailored towards any Commercial Arborist who needs to know a little bit more about tree identification, biology, and site conditions. Our lead instructors Steve Lane (Graf Urban Forestry Consultants) and Aaron Schulz (King Tree Specialists) teach these classes alongside some of the most talented people in the field in Illinois. Whether you’re a sales arborist looking for recommendations for a client, a municipal arborist who needs help selecting trees, or a consultant who works with land owners, these courses are invaluable to you.

Summer Tree Identification – Required
Winter Tree Identification – Required
Species Requirements – Required
Planting Methods & Selection – Required
Soil & Nutrient Management
– Elective
Site Assessment & Design – Elective

Pest Diagnosis and Management

Geared towards Plant Healthcare Professionals as well as all manner of commercial Arborists, the Pest Diagnosis and Management Module is essential for those concerned about plant pathology and tree biology. Our lead instructors Dr. Fredric Miller (Joliet Junior College) and Chelsi Abbott (Davey Tree Experts) teach these classes alongside seasoned PHC professionals and skilled plant pathologists from the Illinois area who can teach you everything you need to know. From climbers to consultants and everyone in between, these classes will be invaluable to you as you further your career.

Insect and Mite Pests – Required
Tree Diseases – Required
Abiotic Problems – Required
Pesticide Safety and Application – Required
Intro to Plant Health Care / IPM – Elective
Soil and Nutrient Management – Elective

Urban Forestry (NEW!)

Most of us work in the Urban Environment as Arborists, but most of us also know surprisingly little about some of the rules, regulations, and other factors at play where we work all day. If you perform street tree trimming, are a municipal arborist, or generally work in urbanized areas, this domain contains essential knowledge for you and your crews. Our lead instructors Rob Sproule (Village of Oak Park) and Jim Semelka (Graf Urban Forestry Consultants) have decades of combined experience in both traditional tree work as well as public sector municipal tree management. This course addresses a great many topics which may be of interest to an Arborist of any stripes.

Urban Forestry Management Planning – Required
Tree Inventories:  Options and Applied Use – Required
Urban Settings, Species, Stresses and Strategies – Required
Tree Regulations and Legislative Concerns – Required
Tree Appraisals – Required
Public Relations and Community Outreach – Elective
Tree Risk Management in Urban Environments – Elective

Opportunities for You to Showcase Your Skills

Even though we have an all-star lineup of teachers for many classes, we are always interested in hearing new ideas, concepts, techniques, and experiences from out in the field. If you think you may be able to contribute as a teacher or teacher’s aide for an Advanced Training class, we’d like to hear from you! Pay is very competitive for teaching, and for most classes, teaching materials are already available for you to add your own experience to.

Our peer review team will check your material for industry Best Management Practices, and once approved, you’re ready to teach. We will even pay for your time if you need to prepare class materials such as PowerPoint presentations, tests, and other instructional materials. You can even get the CEUs for the classes you teach! Not everyone will qualify to teach, but if you’re interested and qualified, we would like to hear from you to join our team of top notch instructors so you can give back to the Arboricultural community we’re all a part of.

The Future of Advanced Training

As of right now, our program is a CEU-carrying opportunity for Illinois Arborists to achieve greater heights (pun intended) in their careers through learning from industry experts in their fields. However, just as the TRACE program in the Northwest Chapter wound up leading to an ISA-wide TRAQ program for Risk Assessment, we are currently working with the ISA to make this a fully credentialed Advanced Training Qualification program that will give you even more formal recognition throughout the industry. We are working diligently to ensure that those who complete modules in the program will have their credential transferred over to a Qualification once the details for the program have been finalized.


We know other organizations offer valuable training for Arborists, but IAA offers specialized, Advanced Training for industry professionals, taught by industry professionals like you, that always stays on the cutting edge of what techniques are being used in the field right now. It’s not just a part of what we do, it’s exactly what we do: Training for Arborists, by Arborists. If you’re looking to earn CEU’s, get a limb up in the job-market and pay ladder, or are just interested in being a first class Arborist, then check out the IAA’s Advanced Training website for future class announcements at We at the IAA look forward to helping you further your career through Advanced Training!


Tree Diseases – PDM Domain – May 11 & 18, 2019 – The Mulch Center, Deerfield
Rigging Level II – May 22 & 23, 2019 – Cantigny Park, Wheaton
Felling – May 29, 2019 – Forest Preserve of Cook County, Elk Grove Village
Abiotic Problems – PDM Domain – June 8 & 15, 2019 – The Mulch Center, Deerfield


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