Board-Certified Master Arborist (BCMA) Certification

Board-Certified Master Arborist (BCMA) Certification

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International Society of Arboriculture Launches Advanced Arborist Certification -- On Track with Expanding Industry Career Path --

Media Contact:
Lindsey Bowman
Certification Marketing Coordinator
217-355-9411, ext. 17

November, 2004 - Champaign, IL – As part of an ongoing effort to better provide for the professional growth and development of arborists around the globe, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is pleased to announce the immediate availability of Board-Certified Master Arborist (BCMA) certification. This new credential is the highest possible certification in the industry, and was designed for arborists who have reached the pinnacle of their profession. Certification as a Board-Certified Master Arborist requires significant experience, advanced education, following ethical standards and applying an in-depth knowledge of landscape plants.

A successful pilot program has already resulted in more than twenty individuals around the country who have earned and achieved the Board-Certified Master Arborist distinction.  While candidates must take the computer-based BCMA exam at one of the hundreds of designated testing centers available, contacting the ISA Certification Department is still the necessary and important first step to confirm eligibility, and to receive an application and further testing instructions.

“We are delighted and honored to offer the only internationally-recognized certification program in the industry,” says Lisa W. Grant, Chairman, ISA Certification Board. “We are proud of each and every one of 17,000+ ISA-Certified Arborists who have earned this core career milestone, and we know it’s important to truly distinguish those experts with the wealth of practical experience required to earn the esteemed Board-Certified Master Arborist recognition.”

To qualify to take the BCMA exam, an individual must be an ISA Certified Arborist in good standing and have obtained other prerequisites, or points, defined by the ISA. These prerequisite points are obtained through professional work experience, formal education, and other related credentials. Once BCMA certification is obtained, an individual must recertify every three years by completing 60 continuing education units with a focus on science, practice, and management.  While there is no ISA-issued study guide, there are twenty-six  recommended text books, journals, published conference proceedings, industry guides and articles that candidates can review on their own to prepare for the BCMA exam.

The ISA has been certifying arborists for more than a decade in order to improve the level of overall knowledge, to develop and implement standardized tree care practices, and to bring more recognition and revenue to the individual holding the credential.

The ISA certification process is designed as a pyramid, providing building blocks of attained knowledge and practice levels earned on a voluntary basis [see diagram below]. ISA Certified Tree Worker is the certification foundation, which branches into two specialist designations demonstrating basic tree worker skills, Climber Specialist and Aerial Lift Specialist (currently under development). Next is a significant career milestone, the ISA Certified Arborist, which, at more than 17,000 professionals worldwide, constitutes the largest category of ISA credentials issued to date.  ISA Certified Arborists may further specialize with a Utility Specialist certification, or the new Municipal Specialist certification released last month in cooperation with the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA).  At the pinnacle of the ISA Certification Career Pyramid is the brand new Board-Certified Master Arborist, an advanced level certification and the industry gold standard.


The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is a nonprofit organization supporting tree care research around the world.  Headquartered in Champaign, IL, ISA is dedicated to the care and preservation of shade and ornamental trees.  For more information on certification contact the ISA at or visit

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