What are the qualifications of an arborist?

Arborist Training | Agricultural specialist tree care | Tree climbers

Apprenticeship as an arborist (specialist agrarian & tree climber) in Germany

Are you looking for training opportunities to become an arborist, tree climber or specialist agronomist for tree care in Germany? Then in our following article you will find a good overview of all options for entering this profession as well as various qualification options. In addition, we at Baumpflege Kühn are always looking for committed employees who want to actively support us (job offers).

NOTE: We at Baumpflege Kühn have all of the certifications and degrees of training presented below.

What requirements do you need as an arborist?

In Germany the arborist is not an official apprenticeship, although this branch has been gaining in importance for years and has almost established itself as a professional discipline in its own right. Perhaps this will change in the coming years, so far there are no concrete plans. It also means that the arborist profession is NOT PROTECTED. So everyone can offer this service and it doesn't matter whether this person is learned or unskilled. Of course there are numerous opportunities for further training and various qualification seminars on tree care(are required by many clients!). We will explain these in more detail in the further course of this discussion.

Since there is no independent training to become an arborist, we recommend that Baumpflege Kühn complete an apprenticeship in a suitable "green profession". We are talking about the professions of forest manager and gardener(Gardening and landscaping) or agricultural service specialist. In one of these training courses, one receives the necessary basic knowledge in order to complete further qualification measures, such as "achagrarwirt tree care", for example. This special training builds on the content of such green apprenticeships. For those who do not have such training, it becomes more difficult to work through the necessary biological content independently. It does not mean that a regular three-year apprenticeship is mandatory, but this makes your further career a lot easier.

We, at Baumpflege Kühn, are convinced that anyone, with or without training, can become a good arborist if one is determined to be ready for the job and has the necessary qualifications.

An overview of training qualifications for arborists and tree climbers

In this section we focus on further training and qualification measures for the profession of arborist and tree climber. We deliberately chose this subdivision, as arborists need these tree climbing certificates for important forms of training (ETW, ETT, etc.).

As you can see in the overview graphic, there are two basic courses for tree climbers, which are between beginners (SKT-A course) and advanced (SKT-B course) can be distinguished.

Rope climbing technique for beginners - SKT-A course

As you can see from the name, this advanced training course is for beginners in tree climbing. Within a week, the participant is given practical knowledge of how to work safely and independently in the tree. This includes the ascent, moving and positioning in the outer branch area as well as working with the hand saw and safe descent. The LockJack (see video) is used here.

In addition, the traditional clamping knot techniques are taught. In addition, there is learning content on hazard identification and rescuing injured colleagues from the tree. To take this course, you need climbing equipment, two certificates of occupational health examination according to G41 and a first aid course (9h), which must not be older than two years.

Depending on the course provider, you can use climbing equipment for the duration of the training (PPE - Personal Protective Equipment) rent or even buy after the end of the course. In addition, there are even funding opportunities for this course, which should be used depending on the federal state. One funding option here is the education bonus(All advice centers at a glance) from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Overview of the contents of the SKT-A course:

• Material and knot science
• Installation techniques of the climbing system
• Accident prevention regulations
• Tree safety assessment
• Ascent techniques
• climbing exercises
• Various security systems
• Work positioning
• Use of hand saws
• Rescue procedure

Costs: approx. 900 € (including 19% VAT)

Rope climbing technique for advanced - SKT-B course

Have you successfully completed the SKT-A course and more than 300 hours of climbing practice (must be proven in a documented manner), this is how you can complete the SKT-B course. Similar to the SKT-A course, however, you have to meet a few more requirements. This is evidence of the occupational medical examination according to G41 AND G25, occupational safety course (AS) Baum I according to VSG 4.2(PDF file, 470 KB) and first aid course (9h).

Only then can you work with a chainsaw in the tree. In addition, you are certified that you can carry out tree maintenance work more effectively and safely. It goes without saying that all contents of the SKT-A course should be mastered safely. This is the only way to ideally absorb and implement the new knowledge content. This training focuses on faster ascent techniques, which are trained at the beginning using new knots or clamping devices. This learning content also forms the later requirements for a safe and speedy rescue from the crown. In addition, in the second part of the training course, the professional use of the chainsaw in connection with rope technology and rigging techniques (see video).

Thus, after completing the SKT-B course, you will be able to rappel down branches and trunk parts precisely and safely. The perfect prerequisite for a professional tree climber!

Similar to the SKT-A course, funding opportunities can be accessed. You should therefore also find out about educational awards and other alternatives.

Overview of the contents of the SKT-B course:

  • Material and knot science
  • various ascent techniques
  • Accident prevention regulations
  • innovative climbing techniques in the entire crown area
  • Tree safety assessments
  • Ascent techniques with different security systems
  • simple drainage systems
  • Use of slings, rollers and braking devices
  • Chainsaw use

Costs: approx. € 1,050 (including 19% VAT)

Overview of training opportunities to become an arborist & tree climber

If you want to work as a qualified arborist, there are a number of qualifications that you should have completed. These are highlighted again in the following graphic. Specifically, these are the tree care courses FLL-certified tree inspector (ZBK), European Tree Worker (ETW), European Tree Technican (ETT), specialist agronomist tree care & tree renovation (FAW) and arboriculture studies(Course content). We will go into more detail on the content of these training courses in the following section.

Training to become an FLL-certified tree inspector

The first option to work as an arborist is to be certified as a tree inspector by the FLL. For this purpose, there have been various training institutes in Germany since March 2007 that independently carry out this certification / examination. The focus is on experienced employees or self-employed people specializing in tree control. In order to receive this certificate, one has to pass a written examination as well as an oral / written part.

In order to be allowed to take this exam, there are various criteria that must be met, which are based on the examination and certification regulations. This means that you are of legal age and have to demonstrate appropriate practical experience in this area. Either you have worked in tree care for at least a year, you can provide evidence of various further training courses or, alternatively, you can justify that you have enough experience in this area.

Basically, the aim of this certification is that arborists are able to carry out tree inspections according to the "FLL Tree Inspection Guideline" appropriately and independently. It thus serves as a quality feature which gives clients the certainty that they are dealing with an expert in this field. This ensures improved road safety in the long term.

Contents of the FLL certification tree inspector at a glance:

  • legal basis of tree control
  • Tree biological basics of tree control (including knowledge of tree species)
  • Damage and symptoms of damage that impair road safety: Recognizing and assessing suspicious circumstances
  • practical implementation of the rule control
  • Determination of the need for action (including control interval)

Costs: Vary depending on the training institute (approx. € 1,000)

Training as a European Tree Worker (ETW)

One of the most important training courses for arborists is the European Tree Worker (ETW) of the European Arboricultural Council e. V. (EAC) based in Bad Honnef. This qualification is about being able to carry out the essential work on and in the tree, taking into account environmental protection, nature conservation and accident prevention. This training program has been developed since 1996 and has become the central training standard for arborists in 21 European countries. This not least led to the fact that the exchange of qualified skilled workers across national borders was simplified. To ensure this, an examination and certification system for European Tree Worker was created. Thus, this qualification closes the gap of a non-existent official training, but also creates lower hurdles to work in this branch.

The basic goals of this training for arborists are quality assurance and the creation of a uniform level of training in Europe. Each certification is accompanied by an international EAC supervisor and checked and monitored by the EAC by means of tests. The following graphic shows the rough course of the certification program. All detailed information can be found here.

In principle, some requirements must be met to participate in this training. This includes one year of professional experience as an arborist, an occupational medical examination according to G25 and G41, a valid first aid certificate (9h), a corresponding SKT-B certificate, chain saw expertise and an exposé about independently managed tree care.

Contents of the European Tree Worker training at a glance:

  • biological foundations
  • Tree care measures
  • Tree damage diagnosis
  • Tree protection
  • Material science
  • labor law basics

Costs: approx. € 1,300 (VAT exempt) | 350 € for exam fee climbing / platform

Training as a European Tree Technican (ETT)

Now we come to the European Tree Technician (ETT), which acts as an advanced course for the previously presented European Tree Worker. The content of this additional qualification is aimed at employees who strive for middle management in the tree care sector. Because the focus of this qualification is extensive tree-related specialist knowledge. This consists on the one hand of tree physiology, location factors and variety selection and on the other hand of various work processes, tree care measures, tree diagnosis and tree valuation. For future managers, however, the curriculum also includes practical procedures for occupational safety, risk assessment and tree environment measurement. In addition, content on organization, supervisory control, economics, law and social issues is conveyed. After successfully passing the EAC exam, you receive the coveted Eurodiplom and a corresponding ID as proof. With such a qualification, the doors of all tree care companies are open to you. For this, this further training also has its time and monetary price. Depending on the provider, the costs for this measure are around € 1,850 plus the examination fee of € 350. For this, as mentioned at the beginning, you have to have the European Tree Worker training or training in tree care, landscaping or forestry. In addition, there is evidence of professional experience of over 3 years in tree care.

Contents of the European Tree Technician (ETT) at a glance:

  • in-depth knowledge of tree care
  • practical practices in tree care
  • Economy, law and social issues

Costs: approx. € 1,850 | 350 € for examination fee

Apprenticeship as a specialist in tree care & tree renovation (FAW)

In this section we now dedicate ourselves to the certified specialist agronomist for tree care and tree renovation, which is briefly referred to as FAW training. For this qualification there is a corresponding "Ordinance on the Examination for the Recognized Qualification Certified Agricultural Manager - Tree Care and Tree Restoration" of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection from 1993. The course content anchored in it consists of the following seven focal points:

  1. Explanation and justification of tree care measures, advice
  2. Recording of tree damage, recognizing the causes of the damage, assessing the need for renovation and the possibility of renovation and calculating the costs
  3. Preparing and setting up construction sites, arranging the resources, machines and devices required for tree care and restoration
  4. Organizing the workflow and transferring tasks to the employees
  5. Implementation of the necessary occupational safety and accident prevention measures as well as the necessary traffic safety
  6. Carrying out maintenance and remedial measures on and around the tree
  7. Handling of construction sites according to commercial and business management aspects

To be able to take this exam, one of the following requirements must be met. On the one hand, this involves a completed training as a gardener, forester, winemaker or farmer and subsequent professional experience of at least three years in a tree nursery, landscaping business, fruit house, forestry or agriculture with a significant proportion of silviculture. On the other hand, five years of professional experience in one of the above-mentioned types of business is sufficient.

If you meet these conditions, you have to acquire the content described above and prove it in three parts of the exam. The first part is about the basics, the second part about the implementation of tree care and tree renovation measures and the third part about economics, law and social issues.

If you already have the European Tree Worker Diploma before this FAW training, you can have some of the basics credited. In addition, the FAW training entitles you to acquire the European Tree Technician (ETT) diploma. Thus, you can see very well how German training content overlaps with European tree care training and how the content-related basics are mutually formed.

The certified specialist agronomist for tree care and tree renovation is one of the most extensive training courses in this area and comes very close to a classic training. This course is 320 hours long (45 minutes each), 200 hours of theory and 120 hours of practice. Depending on the training provider, there are different fees for this. The course price is usually around € 2,149 (VAT-exempt) and the examination fee is € 180 (VAT-exempt). As the contents of the European Tree Worker overlap, as just mentioned, some training institutes offer a combined course that enables both qualifications to be completed. The course price for both qualification measures is approx. € 3,148 (VAT-exempt).

Conclusion / summary

We hope that with these explanations we have given you a good overview of the training opportunities you have in order to be able to work as an arborist. This occupation offers very good opportunities for advancement in the public as well as in the private sector. With the appropriate incentive to train yourself further in this field of knowledge, you can also earn good money. We are at the disposal of our readers, and especially those interested, for questions and suggestions. Use our inquiry form or call us directly. As mentioned at the beginning, we are also happy to receive speculative applications and have very good working conditions for applicants.

Sebastian Kühn, on February 4th, 2016