Minnesota tree inspector program

Photograph of Tree InspectorThe certified tree inspector program was implemented in 1974 in response to Dutch elm disease and oak wilt. Certified tree inspectors have passed an exam in which they demonstrate proficiency in Dutch elm disease and oak wilt management, tree identification, firewood identification, and shade tree management. Tree inspectors must attend annual recertification workshops to learn the latest information on tree care, invasive species management, shade tree management, tree selection, insect and disease identification, tree health care, and other timely topics.

photograph of tree pest and trees


New tree inspector certification FAQs

What is a certified tree inspector? Certified tree inspectors are trained and certified to conduct local shade tree management programs.

What do certified tree inspectors do? Tree inspectors survey community tree populations to identify and manage disease and insect problems. They also provide recommendations for tree health and care. Tree inspectors monitor for new invasive insect and disease problems such as emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, and bur oak blight.

How do I become certified? To be certified as a new tree inspector, you must pass an examination that measures knowledge in shade tree pest identification and management. Exams are given at the end of new inspector training workshops or via an online course. You must pass the examination with a score of 70 percent or better to become certified. The certification course includes basic instruction so that you can:

  • know and understand the biology of Minnesota's most common shade tree pests
  • be familiar with symptoms of oak wilt and Dutch elm disease and be able to identify other problems affecting oaks and elms
  • know the proper method of collecting samples for disease diagnosis
  • know the approved control methods for common tree pests
  • be familiar with recommended tree species to plant in community forests, their maintenance requirements, and their care after planting.

Where can I take a certification exam? Training is available online or at workshops conducted throughout Minnesota in cooperation with the University of Minnesota's Department of Forest Resources Testing generally takes place in the afternoon of the workshop day. Check for training dates and locations at the University of Minnesota Tree Inspector Program webpage.

What does the exam cover? The tree inspector examination covers shade tree statutes, shade tree pest biology and management, tree identification, and firewood identification.

How long is the certified tree inspector certificate valid? Certification is valid for the current and following calendar year.

graphic of certification calendar


Recertification FAQs

How do I recertify? Tree inspectors must take one continuing education workshop every calendar year to receive a certificate for the following year. Recertification is valid for one calendar year. Download the recertification application form.

graphic of recertification calendar

How much training do I need to recertify? Six hours of qualifying continuing education are required each year.

What workshops qualify for recertification?

The Minnesota Shade Tree Source Course and other University of Minnesota-sponsored recertification workshops.

Other workshops that meet the education criteria below could qualify for recertification. Email the agenda to the Tree Inspector Certification Education Coordinator for review. We recommend submitting for approval in advance to ensure you are attending a qualifying education event. Workshops qualifying for recertification may focus on any of the following:

  • identifying signs of new insect, plant, and disease problems affecting shade trees other than Dutch elm disease and oak wilt
  • proper methods of collecting and submitting samples for a possible new plant, insect, or disease diagnosis
  • identifying invasive pest threats to Minnesota trees, including spongy moth, emerald ash borer, bur oak blight, and Asian longhorned beetle
  • recognizing hazard trees
  • minimizing decay, storm damage, and maintenance damage to landscape trees
  • pruning for tree health and restoration pruning after tree damage
  • correcting structural defects in young trees
  • planting practices
  • diagnosing tree and shrub diseases, disorders, and damage.

When happens if I forget to recertify?

If your certificate expires, you must retake and pass the certification exam.

When are tree inspector cards mailed? Newly certified Minnesota Tree Inspectors generally receive their certification cards by mail within one month of passing the exam. Cards expire on December 31 of the year after becoming certified. For example, if you passed the exam on May 4, 2021, your card will expire on December 31, 2022.

Tree inspectors that recertify by completing a minimum number of approved CEUs will receive their cards in the mail during the last week of December of that year. For example, if you took a workshop on February 20, 2021, you will receive your card at the end of December 2021 for your 2022 certification. All cards expire on Dec 31 every year.