What Is an Arborist?

In common parlance, the term arborist is often used to describe any tree-care professional. However, the term should usually be reserved for those tree-care professionals who’ve attained a certificate from one of the major tree-care associations, such as the International Society of Arboriculture.

Tree-Care Workers Vs. Arborists

There is a significant difference between someone who rides around in a truck with a chainsaw and a true tree-care professional, who has studied the biology of woody plants extensively and obtained certifications and credentials to help verify their skills and knowledge.

The former can probablycut down a failing tree in your backyard, but the latter can diagnose the reasons the tree is struggling, analyze the potential for failure and devise an appropriate plan of treatment. The tree may very well require removal, but a competent arborist will only recommend doing so if necessary or desired by the landowner.

Arborists can also provide recommendations for installation projects, help increase the yield of fruit trees and work to resolve issues with pests or pathogens. In short, arborists have a much broader and deeper knowledge base than a typical tree-care worker does.

The term “tree surgeon” is often used interchangeably with the term arborist, but this fails to recognize the breadth of skills and services arborists have and provide. Some arborists certainly do perform services that could be characterized as tree surgery, but they also do a number of other things to care for trees and assist those who own them.

Certifications and Credentials

Most true arborists are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or another recognized body. To attain such certifications, arborists must demonstrate several years’ worth of experience in a tree-related field and pass a comprehensive examination.

Advanced arborists may earn additional certifications that demonstrate mastery of various aspects of tree care. For example, some arborists earn certifications involving work near utility lines; others earn certificates commemorating their climbing skills.

Some arborists also earn certifications from bodies other than the ISA, such as the American Society of Consulting Arborists. Such professionals are generally involved with the planning of tree instillations, analyzing tree failures and providing second opinions, among other things.

Additional Services Arborists Provide

In addition to trees and woody plants, many arborists are also knowledgeable in the care and maintenance of herbaceous plants. Some arborists offer landscaping services alongside their tree-care services, and others are involved with the culture and sale of tree stock.

It is also important to note that various arborists often specialize in different types of tree care services. Some may specialize in risk assessment, while others may specialize in disease prevention. This will have an impact on the complete slate of services they provide.


If you would like an arborist to help care for the trees in your yard, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. Whether you need installation recommendations, help caring for an ailing tree or answers regarding the reason one of your trees failed, our experienced arborists can help.