Openlands Arborist Registered Apprenticeship


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Creating Career Pathways in Arboriculture & Urban Forestry

The Arborist Registered Apprenticeship is a 3-year training program administered by Openlands in partnership with the Department of Labor and Tree Care Companies across the Chicago region. The Apprenticeship coordinates with the industry to improve recruitment and retention and create a path to welcome more diverse and experienced applicants. At the same time, the program introduces participating apprentices to a diverse array of career opportunities in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry, all while being paid, gaining credentials, and professional training by certified arborists in the field. 

About the Apprenticeship

Openlands understands its success in mitigating the effects of climate change and building environmental equity in Chicago is linked to the growth of a diverse and inclusive workforce in our region. As an organization at the nexus of the tree care industry, Chicago communities, and governmental partnerships, Openlands is proud to lead the first registered arborist apprenticeship program in Illinois.

Email with questions or to learn more about the ARA program.

A young person wearing a helmet and glasses while perched on a tree branch.

“This program has put me in a very good position to be an arborist and acquire new skills that will allow me to better branch out into arboriculture. I have learned so much about tree establishment and maintenance as well as more advanced topics like climbing and tree removal.”

-Lisa Mende, 2021 Cohort

Building a Green Workforce

Combatting climate change should simultaneously build resilient infrastructure, improve community health and safety, safeguard wildlife, and create economic opportunities for all people. 

The demand for qualified workforce is high, with 69% of employers in the tree care industry reporting difficulty hiring arborists and more than 50% willing to pay a premium for better-skilled arborists. Most occupations provide excellent entry-level job opportunities that also have little barriers to entry. 

The top employers in the Arboriculture field are the tree care industry, government municipalities, utility companies, and more. As a relatively young industry, tree care companies have struggled to recruit a diverse workforce and retain them.

Meet Our Expert Staff

Openlands Staff Katie Fleming
Senior Forestry Program Manager
Forestry Field Supervisor
Openlands Staff Victor Short
Forestry Field Supervisor
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