Introducing the Wisconsin Arborist Apprenticeship program

The State of Wisconsin is leading the way in the green industry by providing the nation’s first Arborist Apprenticeship Program, which will include plant health care as well as tree care. Currently, there are three private tree care companies who have signed on five apprentices who are learning and developing their skills under the direct guidance of certified and skilled arborists. More employers are needed to support the program and be willing to hire apprentices. Apprenticeship is a proven method in numerous industries and the benefits greatly outweigh the commitment incurred by employees of all sizes. It provides a structured training program for developing safe, skilled and productive employees and workforce. This program brings additional benefits: providing a career pathway for individuals to join, growing individuals within the industry, getting the arborist profession recognized as a skilled trade with the U.S. Department of Labor, and helping our private businesses and municipalities find and retain qualified employees.

The Arborist Apprenticeship Program was designed by industry professionals from the private, municipal and educational sectors, with assistance from the Wisconsin Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (BAS). Overall, the program is 42 months (3.5 years) consisting of no less than 7,000 hours, including 440 hours of paid related instruction and minimum of 6,560 hours of on-the-job learning in nine mandatory work processes. Apprentices are trained by skilled employees designated by the employer and eventually will become skilled workers who can train future apprentices. Paid related instruction will be provided initially by Milwaukee Area Technical College and will expand to additional colleges based on industry demand. Apprentices are also required to study for, and pass, specific certification exams required by the program and their employer. Job task hours can be retroactively applied, and it may be possible for apprentices with prior Arboriculture/Horticulture education to be given credit for some classroom instruction. Each employer is obligated to establish their apprentice’s pay scale at 60% of what a typical skilled worker in that company earns.

The program is flexible and can be tailored to meet employers’ needs and schedules while maintaining the minimum requirements needed to develop a competent, safe and productive employee. The Wisconsin Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards will designate an Apprenticeship Training Representative to assist the employer in setting up the contract for each apprentice and provide guidance throughout the apprenticeship program. Each apprentice undergoes an initial six-month probationary period where both the employer and the apprentice can make sure it’s a good fit. This program can be used for brand new, or current employees who show potential and future promise.


More information can be found at the following website:


WAA: http//


To find out how to sign up an apprentice, or to ask questions and learn more, please contact one of the following individuals:

Milwaukee Area: Apprenticeship Training Representative – Bob Scheldroup ( 414-768-7190

Waukesha Area: Apprenticeship Training Representative – Joshua Johnson ( 262-695-7778

Other areas of Wisconsin: Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards – To find out how to sign up an apprentice, or to ask questions and learn more, please contact your local Apprenticeship Training Representative.


For general questions:

Wisconsin Arborist Apprenticeship Advisory Committee:

Co-Chair – August Hoppe (

Co-Chair – Randy Krouse (


If you have any questions please contact Randy Krouse or Brian Wahl, Urban Forestry Coordinator (


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