Learn online, become an arborist or tree surgeon, with certificate iii in arboriculture, and our home study arborist course, and enjoy self paced online learning.

Course Code: VBS001
Fee Code: AC
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 900 hours
Qualification Advanced Certificate
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Learn to be an Arborist

  • Learn the horticultural skills needed to identify and manage trees
  • Learn the management skills needed to manage an arboricultural enterprise
  • Get a job, start a business or further your career prospects in the Arboricultural Industry

The arboriculture industry is concerned with the culture of trees - from selection and planting to all of the many tasks involved in facilitating growth and good health. This course builds both skills in management and arboriculture, and is designed to provide a sound foundation to support a career at a supervisory or management level in industry sectors including parks and gardens, residential or commercial tree maintenance/management, land rehabilitation, forestry, etc.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the ADVANCED CERTIFICATE IN APPLIED MANAGEMENT (ARBORICULTURE).
Stream ModulesStudied after the core modules, stream modules cover more specific or niche subjects.
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 5 modules.

Note that each module in the ADVANCED CERTIFICATE IN APPLIED MANAGEMENT (ARBORICULTURE) is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


  • Distinguish between plants in order to identify at least 50 trees.
  • Develop a standard tree report form, customised for surveying the condition and use of trees in your locality.
  • Explain how to treat three specified soil related problems that can effect trees.
  • Develop a twelve month program, for managing a health problem detected by you in an established tree.
  • Demonstrate bridge grafting across a bark wound.
  • Distinguish between different methods of pruning including: -Canopy reduction Cleaning out -Topiary -Espaliering
  • Determine the minimum equipment required to commence business as a tree surgeon.
  • Compare three different chainsaws, to determine appropriate applications for each.
  • Determine legislation which is relevant to a specific arborist in a workplace which you visit.
  • Explain how to plant a specified advanced-sized tree on a specific site.
  • Explain tree injection, including the technique and applications.
  • Identify situations where trees require strengthening operations to be carried out.
  • Compare different ways to control roots which invade underground pipes.
  • Calculate the cost of removing a specified tree.
  • Determine appropriate tree species suited to a specific site visited and analysed.
  • Devise a method for removing a tree, including tree felling and stump removal.
  • Analyse specimens of mature trees, each of different genera, to detect any patterns in problems occurring in those trees.
  • Develop criteria for the establishment of a tree plantation on a specific site which addresses; site restrictions, cost and function.
  • Compare different approaches to land rehabilitation, to determine strengths and weaknesses of alternative options on a site to be rehabilitated.
  • Determine techniques to maximise plant development in land rehabilitation situations.
  • Explain the different ways of producing seedling trees for land rehabilitation purposes.
  • Determine appropriate plant establishment programs.
  • Develop procedures to care for plants, during establishment in a hostile environment.
  • Manage the rehabilitation of degraded soil.
  • Explain the effect of plants on improving a degraded site, both physically and chemically.


This course is comprised of:


    Totalling 300 hours. All four of these modules must be studied and passed.

    1. Office Practices

    Develops basic office skills covering use of equipment, communication systems (telephone, fax, etc) and office procedures such as filing, security, workplace organisations, etc.

    2. Business Operations

    Develops knowledge of basic business operations and procedures (eg. types of businesses, financial management, business analysis, staffing, productivity, etc) and the skills to develop a 12 month business plan.

    3. Management

    Develops knowledge of management structures, terminology, supervision, recruitment and workplace health and safety.



    1. Arboriculture I

      2. Arboriculture II

          3. Workplace Projects

          The term "Workplace Project" is often used to embrace any type of learning experience that is real world oriented.

          This includes:

          A. Attending industry meetings (conferences, seminars, study tours, committee meetings, etc.).

          B. Work experience (paid or voluntary).

          C. Attending workshops run by another institution, or supervised by a professional person working the student through our "workshop curriculum documents".

          D. Undertaking any of the following modules: Workshop I, II, III or Research Project I, II, III or IV. (These are modules with Subject Guides that take you through well structured, very practical projects.)  See and

          E. Undertaking, where appropriate, other PBL (Problem Based Learning) modules.


          A range of additional options are offered for 2 of the modules (200hrs of the studies undertaken). This provides students to develop an individual and unique mix of knowledge and skills to set them apart from others undertaking this course.


          What is Involved in Pruning Large Trees?

          Tree pruning is an important aspect of arboriculture. Pruning involves the selective removal of plant material – usually branches in the case of tree surgery. Different types of pruning are used at different times in a tree’s life. Formative pruning is used to shape young plants so that they will grow into healthy, attractive and sound trees. As a tree matures, other types of pruning operations are needed to preserve its health and stability. These operations include branch removal, crown cleaning, crown thinning, crown reduction, crown lifting and crown renewal.
          It is also important for arborists to know how to remove a tree safely. Removal of trees should always be viewed as a last resort; however this may sometimes be necessary to prevent trees falling onto houses, cars or causing other dangerous situations.
          Tree pruning and tree removal are dangerous operations. We provide the following information as a broad guide to these important arboriculture techniques. However, it is essential to gain first-hand practical experience under the supervision of an expert arborist and to follow all recommended safety measures when carrying out dangerous tree work.
          Removing Branches
          Sometimes branches need to be removed or repaired for the following reasons:
            If the ground below is free of obstructions, lightweight branches or branch sections can simply be thrown down. For heavier branches or if obstructions prevent clear throwing, ropes are used to lower the cut limbs. This involves passing a strong lowering rope through an anchoring point and then tying the rope to the branch that is to be removed. Ground staff then wraps the rope around the trunk to create friction, which allows the branch to be lowered in a controlled manner.
            Crown Cleaning
            Dead, damaged, diseased or crowded branches are removed to improve the tree’s appearance and growth. Untidy or nuisance growth such as invasive climbers or messy fruits may also be removed
            Crown Thinning
            This involves reducing the density of branches and stems without reducing the overall height or width of the tree. Thinning the crow improves air circulation (and reduces the incidence of disease) and allows more light into the tree and onto the ground below.
            Crown thinning is usually carried out on mature deciduous trees; it may also be used to compensate for root loss or root damage on newly-transplanted trees or following excavations. Generally the crown is reduced by a maximum of 25%. Excessive thinning can result in sunburn and stimulation of weak, epicormic shoots. It can also lead to an overall decline in the tree’s vigour.
            Crown Reduction
            This involves cutting back branches to reduce the tree’s size (ie. reducing its height and/or canopy spread). It is usually carried out because the tree has become too large its position.
            Branches are cut back to growing points (laterals) so that the overall shape and vigour is maintained. They are not lopped back to the trunk – re-growth from these cuts is usually weak, overcrowded and unattractive.
            Crown Lifting
            This involves pruning the lower limbs so that the height of the crown in raised, allowing better access and light penetration below.
            Ideally lower branches are removed while the tree is still growing, reducing the need for large, potentially disfiguring cuts.
            Crown Renewal
            This involves renewing a damaged or severely lopped crown. It is carried out to improve the tree’s appearance and vigour.
            Crown renewal is generally a long-term process, often taking several years of corrective pruning and crown thinning before the desired shape is realised.


            Knowledge is More Important than Qualifications
            Knowledge is the most important aspect of arboriculture – qualifications come second. However to work in this industry it is advisable that you have a qualification – it shows that you are serious about your chosen industry and that you are willing to take the right steps to work in the industry and also to keep working within it.

            Choosing the right course
            Choosing the right course is an important decision for any student, no matter what area of horticulture they are studying for or working within. A course should give you more than just facts, it should enable you to gather information but it should also be structured in such a way that you can recall this information  even years later. Not all courses do this – especially those that concentrate on competency based learning. Our courses (like many universities) are based on Problem Based Learning – this encourages students to develop problem solving skills and has been found to be the best way to not only gather information but also to be able to retain and recall it. It is not learning by rote!

            Our courses have been written by people with years and years of industry experience – they know what you need to know, they also know what the industry wants and also how to encourage and help you to gather those important skills and fundamental knowledge.

            Consider Yourself A Professional
            Arboriculture, a branch of horticulture, is a specialised field – it is not just a matter of cutting down trees! It is the care and maintenance of trees i.e. tree surgery, tree selection, planting cultivation and production – lopping trees is a last resort.
            Safety is also an incredibly important part of arboriculture – it is a high risk industry. Arborists are professionals in their field – if you have a professional attitude towards arboriculture and demonstrate this in interviews then you are more likely to get a job in the field. A professional attitude means that you show prospective employers that you have a sound understanding of the industry, a sound understanding of what arboriculture entails and a professional approach to work.

            There is Competition out there
            Like any other industry don’t forget that there are many other people competing for the same job – some may have higher qualifications, but if you can confidently prove your skills and knowledge and also have a qualification to back them up - then you will stand out from the crowd.


            How Will You Benefit from this Course?

            • Fast track business or employment opportunities in arboriculture
            • Study an arboriculture course developed by a large team of professionals
            • Save time -don't waste time and money traveling to classes
            • Take control over when and where you study
            • Take control over your speed of learning - halve the time to qualify if you want.
            • Access a team of professional horticulture and arboriculture tutors who work across both Australia and the UK, to gain a very broad and internationally relevant learning experience
            • Learn to understand trees more deeply, to make better decisions, and achieve greater results in growing trees anywhere
            • Develop connections with industry and become aware of opportunities that may otherwise pass you by
            • As a graduate, receive free career and business advice from our horticultural staff -yours for the asking.

            Employment Prospects

            • Parks Management
            • Landscape Management
            • Land Care Management
            • Horticultural allied trader
            • Arborist
            • Teacher/trainer
            • Commercial or Residential Estate Management
            • Golf Course Grounds Management
            • Street Tree Management

            Business Opportunities

            • Start a Tree nursery
            • Contract tree planting and land rehabilitation
            • Consultant arborist
            • Contract tree removal


            Member of the Future Farmers Network

            UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

            Our principal John Mason is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

            Alternative Technology Association Member

            Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

            ACS is a silver sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow. ACS certificate students are offered a free membership for this leading professional body.Provider.

            Member of Study Gold Coast

            Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (UK)

            Principal John Mason is a member of Parks and Leisure Australia since 1974 and a fellow since 1998

            Recognised since 1999 by IARC

            Course Contributors

            The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

            Rosemary Davies

            Businesswoman, Journalist, Editor, Broadcaster, Teacher, Consultant for over 30 years.

            Tracey Jones

            Widely published author, Psychologist, Manager and Lecturer. Over 10 years working with ACS and 25 years of industry experience.
            Qualifications include: B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Lear

            Bob James

            Horticulturalist, Agriculturalist, Environmental consultant, Businessman and Professional Writer. Over 40 years in industry, Bob has held a wide variety of senior positions in both government and private enterprise. Bob has a Dip. Animal Husb, B.App.Sc.,

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