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. Since then, hundreds of communities have participated, and there are more than 800 certified tree inspectors in Minnesota. Certified tree inspectors have passed a test 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, exotic 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 people 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 exotic insect and disease problems such as emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, and sudden oak death.

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. You must pass the examination with a score of 70 percent or better to become certified. The workshop includes basic instruction so that you can:

  • identify all native tree species, with or without leaves, and all felled or downed trees with bark intact common to your work area
  • 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 these common tree pests
  • be familiar with recommended tree species used in replanting programs, their planting requirements, and their care after planting.

Where can I take a certification exam? Training workshops are conducted throughout Minnesota in cooperation with My Minnesota Woods. Testing is generally conducted in the afternoon of the workshop day. Check for training dates and locations.

What does the exam cover? The tree inspector examination covers shade tree statutes, shade tree pest 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. If your certificate expires, you must retake and pass the certification exam. Application form

graphic of recertification calendar

How much training do I need to recertify? You may either attend one six-hour session or two sessions that are at least four hours each. Training other than at the Shade Tree Short Course or other University of Minnesota-sponsored workshop that meets the education criteria below could qualify for recertification. Submit the agenda to the Tree Inspector Certification Program Coordinator for review and approval at least two weeks in advance.
Workshops qualifying for recertification may focus on any of the following:

  • biology of native or invasive plants, insects, or disease pests or disorders affecting shade trees
  • 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 exotic pest threats to Minnesota trees, including gypsy moth, emerald ash borer, sudden oak death, 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 are tree inspector cards mailed? Newly certified Minnesota Tree Inspectors generally receive their certification cards by mail within one month of passing your exam. Your card expires 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.

What workshops qualify for recertification?