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Arborist apprenticeship is nationally registered with the U.S. Department of Labor. Apprenticeship provides you, the employer, with an effective recruiting, training, and retention tool for employees. By offering apprenticeship, your business can grow and thrive!

Benefits for Your Business

  • Highly-skilled employees who adopt a safer work ethic and will produce quality results for your business, subsequently saving you money
  • A committed team whose skills, confidence and loyalty will develop under your expert supervision
  • Flexibility to replenish your workforce as experienced employees transition to different roles, change careers or retire
  • Increased productivity, resulting in a profitable return on investment for every dollar you spend on training
  • Lower recruiting costs because a motivated, satisfied employee with a defined career path and wage progression is likely to stay longer

Flexible Model

The apprenticeship includes a combination of On-the-Job Learning (OJL) at the job site and job-related classroom/self-study instruction, called Related Instruction. Arborist Apprenticeship is a “Hybrid” apprenticeship as it has both time-based and competency-based requirements.

  • Time-based – your apprentice completes a required number of hours in on-the-job learning and related instruction
  • Competency-based – your apprentice progresses at their own pace as they demonstrate competency in skills and knowledge through proficiency checkpoints

Your apprenticeship can be customized to meet the needs of your business.

This is an “earn while you learn” model. Apprentices are employees who receive a paycheck from day one, so they earn wages while they learn on the job.

Arborist apprenticeship takes three years to complete, after which the successful apprentice earns an Arborist Journeyworker certificate from the US Department of Labor.

Go to the Get Started tab to take the next step or contact to learn more.

The largest part of Arborist Apprenticeship is delivered by On-the-Job Learning (or “OJL”) hours (90% of the total training hours). The OJL hours are related directly to competency assessments. Recommended competency assessments are available in the TCIA Arborist Apprenticeship Training Program – Instructor Guide manual.

Here is a summary of the competency categories and associated hours for on-the-job learning:

Hours Work Process Description (Competencies)
450-500 Adhere to ANSI and employer safety standards for all work.
180-200 Identify common trees and shrubs in the employer’s region.
540-600 Perform rigging on the ground and aloft.
900-1,000 Access trees safely.
720-800 Operate a chain saw on the ground and aloft, and perform field maintenance.
270-300 Operate a chipper.
900-1,000 Prune trees and shrubs from the ground and aloft, according to ANSI A300.
720-800 Remove trees and shrubs.
720-800 Local Optional Work Processes
A. Operate vehicles with or without trailer.
B. Operate aerial lifts.
C. Operate stump grinder.
D. Participate in responses to storms and emergency situations.
E. Install tree support and lightning protection systems.
G. Perform plant health care activities.
5,400-6,000 Total Hours

Go to the Get Started tab to take the next step or contact to learn more.

Related instruction, delivered by way of job-related classroom instruction or self-study, complements the on-the-job learning. This related instruction is approximately 440 hours of learning or 10 percent of the overall Arborist Apprenticeship. TCIA recommends one of two ways to deliver related instruction:

Apprenticeship Curriculum

Here is an outline of the topics covered over the course of apprenticeship:

  • Arborist skills
  • Equipment fundamentals
  • Aerial tree work
  • Tree and shrub identification
  • Rigging and tree removal
  • Tree biology and identification
  • Plant health care
  • Leadership in tree care operations
  • Communication skills

Go to the Get Started tab to take the next step or contact to learn more.

Get started today by taking these two easy steps:

  1. Determine if an apprenticeship is right for you
    The Employer Guide to Apprenticeship offers a comprehensive overview. Use this guide to determine if an apprenticeship is a good option for your business. You may also adopt this guide as the official handbook of your company’s arborist apprenticeship, should you choose to start one.
  2. Register your program
    TCIA’s Guideline Standards for Arborist Apprenticeship are registered with the US Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship, which makes registering an arborist apprenticeship easy.TCIA has your back and will help you navigate this process through regular check-ins, however, you must work with your local DOL representative to start a registered arborist apprenticeship. Each state has a designated representative to help you every step of the way. Use the interactive map on to identify your local contact and get started!

Or, simply contact TCIA, and we will guide you through the process:

A journeyworker is an employee on your team who has the skills and experience required to mentor an apprentice. Each apprentice must have one journeyworker assigned to them. A journeyworker can mentor only one apprentice at a time. This is called a 1:1 relationship.

You, the employer will identify and assign journeyworker(s) at your company based on the individual’s skill competency and experience.

If you need more training/credentials for your potential journeyworker, we recommend ISA Arborist Certification, TCIA Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) designation, and TCIA Crew Leader Qualification, however these credentials are not required to be designated a journeyworker.

Apprentices sign a contract that confirms they will earn a percentage of your company’s journeyworker wage rate. As they progress through your company’s apprenticeship, their wage increases. Once the apprentice successfully completes apprenticeship, they earn their journeyworker certificate from the Department of Labor and their wage increases to 100% of the journeyworker wage rate.

You must determine your company’s journeyworker wage rate by reviewing the wages of current journeyworker level employees on your team. Crew Leaders, experience climbers and experienced equipment operators could be considered “journeyworker” level.

Use TCIA’s journeyworker wage rate guide in the Employer Guide to Apprenticeship handbook to help you establish the journeyworker wage rate at your company.

Arborist apprenticeship is 90% on-the-job learning, which is completed with the employer. The other 10% is related instruction hours, which may be completed by partnering with your local community college or utilizing TCIA’s curriculum for arborist apprenticeship, called the Arborist Apprenticeship Training Program.

Benefits of working with your local college:
• Formal classroom settings offer a different learning environment.
• Apprentices gain access to the college’s academic support services.
• Provides apprentices with the opportunity to engage with peers.
• Apprentice courses may provide transferable college credits.
• To find current arborist apprenticeship-related instruction that is offered at community colleges, go to the Find an Arborist Apprenticeship page under the Apprenticeship and Career Options tab.

Benefits of using TCIA’s Arborist Apprenticeship Training program:
• Fully developed and industry-backed curriculum.
• Related instruction training can be scheduled at a time that is convenient for your company.
• No need to find and pay for community college courses.
• Less lost time for travel to/from community college courses.
• For more information about the TCIA Arborist Apprenticeship Training program for related instruction, email

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