Written by: August Hoppe, President Hoppe Tree Service, Certified Arborist WI-0477A
The labor shortage has been making big headlines lately and affects multiple industries. The fact
is employers must get more creative in finding new ways to recruit and retain employees. The
tree care industry is no exception. Over the last few years, Hoppe Tree Service has helped build
Wisconsin’s first Arborist Apprenticeship Program. The program makes the tree industry more
attractive for new employees and provides a pathway to becoming a skilled arborist over three
years. This program is now being used by other states and tree care companies around the nation.
The Arborist Apprenticeship Program consists of on-the-job training with a workbook that trainers
sign when an employee can demonstrate skill at a task. Classroom instruction is also a major part
of the program. Hoppe apprentices complete two weeks of classroom training every semester at
Milwaukee Area Technical College. Finally, apprentice hours are tracked for each skill apprentices
learn to make sure they have enough experience at each task. Examples include 1,000 hours of
aerial work and 750 hours of chainsaw use. The program culminates with the International Society
of Arboriculture’s Certified Arborist exam. Once the apprentice satisfactorily completes the program
they become a skilled journeyworker arborist.
Hoppe Tree Service has successfully used the program for the past five years to recruit and
train our staff. We are proud to say that this spring and summer six of our employees completed
the apprenticeship coursework. This fall we have many employees enrolled and working on the
The investment in training pays off every day. Apprentices are learning necessary skills. The quality, productivity and safety of their work increases and they see a roadmap for a successful career in the tree care industry. Utilizing this training program has made Hoppe Tree Service a leading company that arborists and future arborists want to work for and has helped our company meet the labor crisis head on. We congratulate our journeyworker employees, and thank our 13 arborist apprentices working their way through the program right now.