Guide to Landscape Industry Certifications and Requirements


One of the main goals of the green industry’s national trade associations is to promote professionalism and build the public’s confidence in the industry. Continuing education and getting certifications shows that you have gone the extra mile. Educate property owners and property managers on the value of hiring industry professionals who have gone above and beyond. Check out these five organizations offering industry certification:

NALP, National Association of Landscape Professionals

National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP)

Contact Info: 800-395-2522,

Certifications: LIC Manager, LIC Exterior Technician, LIC Interior Technician, LIC Horticultural Technician, LIC Lawn Care Manager, LIC Lawn Care Technician, LIC Lawn Care Technician (National)

Cost: $150 to $400

Course: Self-study; study materials available through NALP


Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS)

Contact Info: 443-966-3852 x146 or

Certifications: Certified Grounds Manager (CGM); Certified Grounds Technician (CGT); School of Grounds Management (SGM) Certificate Program

Cost: $150 members, $250 nonmembers; $325 to join PGMS includes course fees

Course: The CGT exam consists of 40 questions based on the overall grounds maintenance field and 10 questions (multiple choice) based on client’s geographic region; SGM exam requires a Bachelor of Science or a two-year technical degree, or eight years of experience to take the exam. SGM requires obtaining 24 core credits in a four-year period, of which 18 credits must be completed at the SGM school in core competencies.

Test: Two methods of taking the test; the first covering grounds management is a closed-book exam and consists of 100 true/false questions and administered by a proctor; the second part is open book, essay and can be completed at home-study.

irrigation association

Irrigation Association (IA)

Contact Info: 703-536-7080,

Certifications: Certified Irrigation Contractor (CIC); Certified Irrigation Designer (CID); Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor (CLIA); Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor (CGIA); Certified Landscape Irrigation Managers (CLWM); Certified Agricultural Irrigation Specialist (CAIS); Certified Irrigation Technician (CIT)

Cost: $175-400

Course: Self-study, some materials available for purchase from IA. Minimum six months to three years of experience or related education to take exam, dependent upon type of certification.

Test: Online at locations provided by Kyrterion. Paper pencil exam available at various locations.

SIMASnow & Ice Management Association (SIMA)

Contact Info: 414-375-1940,

Certifications: CSP, Certified Snow Professional

Cost: $300 members, $500 nonmembers

Course: Option 1: Minimum three years of experience as an owner/CEO in last five seasons of snow management or five years consecutive in supervision/management of direct snow- specific experience. Option 2: Minimum two years of experience as a supervisor/manager, post-secondary degree and letter of references with additional 15 hours of SIMA-approved, snow-specific education credits within a two-year-period, prior to application.

Test: Administered at proctored sites throughout the country and consists of 200 true/false or multiple-choice questions

International Society of Arborists (ISA)

International Society of Arborists (ISA)

Contact Info: 217-355-9411,

Certifications: ISA Certified Arborists, ISA Certified Utility Specialist, ISA Certified Arborist Municipal Specialist, ISA Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist, ISA Certified Tree Worker Aerial Lift Specialist, ISA Board Certified Master Arborist

Cost: ISA offers a member discount to those holding an ISA Membership. The ISA Certified Arborist credential, the most recognized certification, with over 30,000 credential holders, costs $150 for a member and $250 for a nonmember. The most elite certification, the ISA Board Certified Master Arborist, costs $450 for a member and $550 for a nonmember. There is an additional $100 fee for taking exams at Pearson VUE facilities.

Course: Requires a minimum of three years of full-time experience in arboriculture. Acceptable experience includes the practical use of knowledge involved in pruning, fertilization, installation and establishment, diagnosis and treatment of tree problems, cabling and bracing, climbing or other services that directly relate to arboriculture, or a two-year degree in arboriculture and two years of practical experience or a four-year degree in a related field and one year of practical experience.

Test: Paper-based exams done at pre-scheduled locations and times. Computer-based exams done at Pearson VUE testing facilities.

Read more: The Importance of Certification in the Green Industry

This article was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.