In 1979 the California Landscape Contractors Association began the development of a test to measure an individual’s landscape installation skills. After nearly five years of work and study the first test was administered in 1983. In 1994 ALCA purchased rights to exam and began to offer it to state associations for national administration. CLCA has joined forces with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) to offer three Core tests in Installation, Maintenance and Irrigation in addition to Advanced Specialties.

The purpose of the test is to find individuals in the landscape installation field who are competent in the practical application of the requisite skills necessary for the success of a landscape company. The two day test is comprised of fifteen hours of timed hands-on work on thirty problems in eight skill areas. Those skill areas are plan reading, irrigation installation, plant installation, concrete installation, grading and drainage, brick on sand construction, sand box construction, and seed and sod installation.

Individuals who pass this test become Certified Landscape Technicians or CLTs. There are at present many CLTs who have proven their ability to perform their skills at the highest level.

This unique group of individuals is part of the CLCA’s effort to improve the image of theCLT CLCA 2 Green Industry. Clients and the public in general need to view landscape contractors as competent professional business people.

The test has been described as being harder than the State of California’s licensed contractor test because it requires the applicants to demonstrate skill through performance. A written test measures the ability of the mind. A skill test measures the ability to apply that knowledge.

To be eligible to take the test applicants must have worked approximately 4,000 hours in 13 areas of landscaping or have worked full time for two or more years with a licensed landscape contractor. The test is not limited to members of the CLCA. Anyone from any state meeting the qualifications may apply. At present, two tests are held each year, one in Southern California and one in Northern California. The test is judged by licensed landscape contractors andCLT CLCA 3 certified nurserymen.

The Common Elements are required skills common to all core tests. Applicants must demonstrate their mastery of:

  • Work Orders and Reports
  • First Aid Safety
  • Plan Reading
  • Plant Sensitivity
  • Plant Identification
  • Sod Installation
  • Program Controller
  • Irrigation Identification
  • Lateral Repair and Head Adjustment
  • Truck and Trailer

Maintenance Core

  • Written General Comprehension
  • Pruning
  • 21″ Mower
  • 36″ Mower
  • Aerator
  • Power Blower
  • Edger Trimmer
  • Riding Mower
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilizer
  • Tree planting, Staking and Guying
  • Chainsaw

Installation Core

  • Plant Layout
  • Grading and Drainage
  • Instrument
  • Paver Installation
  • Rototiller
  • Tractor Operation
  • Tree Planting, Staking and Guying
  • Chainsaw

Irrigation Test

  • Irrigation General Comprehension
  • Irrigation Plan Reading
  • Lateral Installation
  • Main line Installation
  • Valve Repair
  • Valve Wiring
  • Pipe Installation Equipment

Advanced Specialties

Advanced Specialties Endorsements are advanced exams which are offered to Certified Landscape Technicians upon successful completion of the Common Elements and any Core Test.

Benefits of Certification

  • Promotes professionalism for individuals
  • Provides international recognition
  • Validates landscape skills
  • Your company is registered as an employee of Certified Landscape Technicians
  • Creates opportunities for career advancement in the industry.


  • Persons passing a Certification Test will receive a numbered certificate, identification card and logo items.
  • Employers are welcome to advertise that they have certifiedCLT CLCA 4 employees on their staffs.

Your company benefits from the increased professionalism of your employees. Your employees benefit with proven credentials that will assist them in advancement and their overall career. Ultimately, the consumer will benefit from the job skills that will enhance their landscaping.