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The Arborist Registered Apprenticeship Program

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 a 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.  

Building a Green Workforce

Combatting climate change should simultaneously build resilient infrastructure, improve community health and safety, safeguard wildlife, create economic opportunities for all people. Chicago can lead and establish a structure to provide that transition to workers and communities. Green jobs are not just jobs in the energy sector but also are jobs working in protecting ecosystems and biodiversity and storing and mitigating carbon through nature.

The demand for qualified workforce is high, with 69% of employers 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. The most recent national study in 2002 reported that people of color represented only 5% of the workforce and women made up only 10%. Additionally, as a growing industry, not enough people think about forestry as a job, let alone understand the opportunities for career advancement throughout their lifetime.

The Apprenticeship

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

“This program has been super beneficial because it gave me insight into what to expect with different jobs, it shows you what you can get into, you get to meet all sorts of different people involved in the community and also in the industry. It helped create some of those initial networks I can use later on in my career.”

Tonatiu Rodriguez, 2020 Graduate of the Forestry Training Program

The application for the Arborist Registered Apprenticeship is closed for the 2022 year. Email apprenticeship@openlands.org with any questions.

Apply for the Apprenticeship

Openlands’ Arborist Registered Apprenticeship is a 3-year registered apprenticeship program, working alongside industry professionals and gaining hands-on experience, training, and skills in arboriculture.

Employ an Apprentice

Through the Openlands Registered Apprenticeship (2021-IL-81294) Department of Labor approved program, Employers can host aspiring tree care professionals.