ISA Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist



When you become an ISA Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist®, you are recognized by your peers, employers, and the public as a tree care professional who has attained a generally-accepted level of knowledge in areas such as safety, climbing, rigging, cabling, pruning, removal, and more. The purpose of the tree climbing skills exam is to assess the applicant’s ability to demonstrate the fundamental skills necessary to perform as a competent tree climber. The primary emphasis throughout the exam is safety. There are two parts to this exam – written (65 multiple choice questions) and practical (in tree climbing portion).

Prerequisites for this certification:
  • Minimum of 18 months (1.5 years) of climbing experience in arboriculture.
  • Proof of Aerial Rescue training within the past year.
  • Proof of hands-on CPR and First Aid training.
  • Climbing gear that meets the ANSI – industry standards:
    • Climbing-style helmet
    • Eye protection
    • Work boots
    • Climbing line
    • Arborist saddle
    • Self-closing, self-double-locking carabiners that meet the minimum safety standards of rope snaps with a gate-lock mechanism that requires at least two consecutive, deliberate actions to unlock Work-positioning lanyard
    • Handsaw and scabbard

IAA offers classes to help you meet the prerequisites and prepare for the exam. We typically run these classes in the spring and in the fall and host the exam on the last day.

The written exam content is divided into eight areas of knowledge, and the percentage next to each area reflects the percentage of questions associated with that area. These are subject to change when a new job task analysis is completed for the exam. It is made up of 65 multiple-choice questions, and you will have 1.5 hours to complete the written exam.
  1. Safety—18%
  2. Removal—12%
  3. Rigging—12%
  4. Pruning—18%
  5. Cabling—6%
  6. Tree Sciences—10%
  7. Tree Identification—10%
  8. Electrical Hazard Awareness Program—14%

The Tree Climbing Skills portion of the exam is to assess the applicant’s ability to demonstrate the fundamental skills necessary to perform as a competent tree climber. The primary emphasis throughout the exam is safety. This is an outdoor practicum, and you will have 30 minutes to safely and successfully complete it.

It is comprised of the following:
  • Pre-Climb: Inspection of Equipment
  • Pre-Climb: Proper Tie-In
  • Pre-Climb: Tying a Figure-8
  • Pre-Climb: On Rope Test
  • Pre-Climb: Knots and Hitches
  • Rope Throw: Tree and Site Inspection
  • Rope Throw: Climbing Line Installation
  • Secured Entry: Secured Entry into Tree
  • Rope Advancement: Tree Inspection
  • Rope Advancement: Ascend to Final, Predetermined Tie-In Point
  • Tie-In: Final Tie-In
  • Tie-In: Time Limit on Tying In
  • Hand Contact Station: First Designated Work Station
  • Pole Saw/Pruner Work Station: Second Designated Work Station
  • Descent: Descend to Ground

You can read more about each of the tasks listed above in the exam application which is linked below.

*You may waive the work climb portion of the skills exam if you have been a participant of an ISA chapters regional tree climbing championship or the International Tree Climbing Championship – you will need to fill out a form and provide proof and complete all the requirements noted on the Skills Exam Waiver Form. Click here to view Skills Exam Waiver Form: Click here to view Skills Exam Waiver Form:

You must pass both written and practical exams to obtain this certification.

The exam application give more detailed information about this certification – click here to read more and fill out the exam application: