Whether you run a pest control operation or work as a technician, chances are that if you’re working in pest control, you frequently use pesticides on the job. While pesticides can be extremely helpful in managing many kinds of pests, maintaining safe practices when applying them is critical to keeping both employees and customers safe and healthy.

In keeping with this approach, it is important to ensure anyone on your team who you expect to handle or use pesticides, including those who supervise applicators, is appropriately certified.*

What is a pesticide applicator license?

A pesticide applicator license, as the name suggests, is a type of authorization that confirms an individual is properly trained and licensed to apply pesticides. While the term “pesticide applicator license” is commonly used in the industry, it’s important to note that there isn’t one single source to be certified, and terminology may vary slightly depending on where you’re operating, with terms like license, certification and permit coming into play in different areas.

Also, note that not all pesticides require special authorization. The common pesticides homeowners purchase at the hardware store, for instance, are unclassified by the EPA and are referred to as general-use pesticides. Licensing in the U.S. specifically applies to pesticides that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies as Regulated Use Products (RUPs). You can find details, as well as the EPA’s latest list of RUPs, by visiting the official EPA website.

How do you get certified as a pesticide applicator?

The EPA defines which pesticides are considered RUPs and also oversees the standards for training and certification in their use. However, it’s not the EPA that administers licenses; training and certification are handled independently by each U.S. state or territory.

Federal law in the U.S. requires “any person who applies or supervises the use of RUPs” to be certified in accordance with relevant laws. When pursuing licensing, keep these details in mind:

  • In addition to individuals applying RUPs, supervisors must be certified as well — even if they’re not expected to apply the pesticides themselves
  • These individuals must be certified in any state or territory they’re applying RUPs — not just where your business is headquartered

The process to become certified varies depending on the location, but most U.S. states offer a Pesticide Safety Education Program. Contacting the programs for states in which you operate is the first step, as they can provide details on the process of becoming certified, as well as study materials to help ensure a smooth certification process.

We’ve provided links for each state and U.S. territory below. For pest control operations on tribal land, consult the EPA’s Federal Certification to Apply Restricted Use Pesticides in Indian Country.

Pesticide Applicator’s Licensing by State

Use the links below to get in touch with Pesticide Safety Education Program officials in the states or territories in which you operate.

AlabamaAlaskaAmerican SamoaArizona
DelawareDistrict of ColumbiaFloridaGeorgia
MontanaNebraskaNevadaNew Hampshire
New JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth Carolina
North DakotaNorthern Mariana IslandsOhioOklahoma
OregonPennsylvaniaPuerto RicoRhode Island
South CarolinaSouth DakotaTennesseeTexas
UtahVermontVirgin IslandsVirginia
WashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming

Staying in line with federal and local pesticide application licensing requirements helps to ensure your pest control business stays compliant so you can deliver stellar service to your customers. If you’re looking to start a pest control business, ensuring you’re on top of permits and licensing for the areas you intend to work is a crucial step, along with forming an LLC and other important logistical steps. If you’re looking for more info on starting your own pest control company, check out this informative blog.

For more information on running a pest control business and ensuring your technicians always have the tools, they need to put those pesticide applicator licenses to good work, schedule your free PestPac demo today!


Brett is a Content Specialist at WorkWave with over a decade of professional writing experience. When he's not glued to his keyboard, he enjoys playing music, reading, playing video games, and just about anything that takes him outdoors.