Becoming Certified

Certification requires advance planning and preparation. If you are unfamiliar with ISA Certification, the first step is to learn more about the certification you would like to achieve. Questions regarding certification may be addressed to ISA at 217-355-9411 or

Preparing for the Exam

Each certification has an official handbook outlining requirements for the exam, topics covered, and rules pertaining to the certification. Reading the handbook is essential to performing well on the exam. The handbooks are linked under their certification here. To help you prepare for the exam, the ISA website offers study guides and reference books.

Applying for the Exam

You must meet certain requirements to sit for an exam. The application process includes written documentation of all training and experience necessary for the exam. The applications are linked under their certification here.

All exams require advance registration. You must submit an application at least 12 business days before the exam date. Walk-ins are not permitted.

Space may be limited in some exams; early registration is encouraged. Contact the PNW-ISA if you have questions about a particular exam site.

ISA will confirm receipt of your application and whether the application was approved.

Taking the Exam

Once you are approved for an exam, you can then choose an exam date. All written exams can be taken at any exam location. You must, however, apply for the exam you wish to take.

You will have a limited number of minutes to complete a written exam. The skills exam for the ISA Certified Tree Worker and/or Aerial Lift Operator can often run all day depending on the number of attendees. At the time of the examination, you will be asked to read and sign the ISA Code of Ethics.

Online Exams Are Available

ISA also offers a computer-based exam for all credentials except Board Certified Master Arborist in select areas for an additional $100 administration fee. Online exams are not currently available in Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands.

To register for a computer-based exam, leave the examination date blank on your application. Upon approval of your application, an exam date will be assigned based on your schedule (no later than 90 days from approval). Your confirmation letter will outline all instructions.

Note: Your online application must be sent to ISA prior to scheduling an online exam. The testing vendor does not schedule exams directly.

More questions? View the ISA Exam FAQ here.