Do you want to become a pest control technician? If YES, here is a 5-step guide on how to become a pest control exterminator plus the requirements involved.
Pest control exterminators are experts who identify and remove pests from buildings and properties. These experts monitor areas for evidence of pests like rodents and insects including ants, roaches, bedbugs, mosquitoes, and termites, and typically establish treatment plans to eradicate or prevent pest problems. They also offer services to businesses, homes, and any other structures where pests may be located.
Pest control exterminators are expected to possess some certain skills and abilities to be successful. Their work demands physical stamina since they must spend significant time on their feet and maneuver through tight spaces, sometimes in uncomfortably hot or cold circumstances.
Exterminators are also expected to be detail-oriented in dealing with pesticides and chemicals that are potentially harmful. Additionally, they ought to be skilled in working with customers and in maintaining records.
How Much Do Pest Control Technicians Earn?
According to industry reports, the median annual salary for pest control workers was $35,610 in May 2018. The industry is projected by economists to enjoy a growth of about seven percent between 2018 and 2028. This massive growth is more or less attributed to the increase in invasive pests. Also, the industry experiences quite a bit of employee turnover and jobs often become available as experts leave to pursue other career paths.
Before you can take on your job – as an employee or owner – you’ve got to pass a few requirements and become certified. Although you don’t really need experience in the field to work for an already existing business, but most businesses look for those who have a high school diploma, reliable transportation, a driver’s license, and the ability to lift 50 to 80 pounds.
States such as South Carolina require a four-year degree or at least two years with applicable experience, before you are eligible to obtain a license to own or open a pest control business. Also have it in mind that every state has its own procedures, fees, and requirements to obtain a pest control exterminator license.
To find out your state’s procedures, go to the official state website and search for the licensing or professional licensing department. Below is a step by step guide to becoming a pest control exterminator in the United States. Note that what appears here is the general requirement for becoming an exterminator in the United States.
5 Steps on How to Become a Pest Control Exterminator
- Ensure a Clean Record
In most states, candidates to become pest control exterminators must be at least 18 years of age and have a good driving record. Driving to different locations is one of the duties of a pest control exterminator. Ensure your record is void of driving violations (e.g. speeding tickets, car accidents, parking tickets).
If you are not certain about your record, order a copy of your driving record from your state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Seek advice from the DMV on ways to improve your record such as taking a driver safety course.
- Have a High School Diploma
Some states expect applicants for certification be able to “speak, read, and write the English language,” and a few require that a candidate have attained at least a high school diploma or GED. As a pest control exterminator, you will require basic skills in math, writing, and chemistry. Knowing the identity and biology of pests is important for this career as well.
- Acquire Pest Control Training and Get On-The-Job Training
After earning a high school diploma, you may need to complete some pest control training. Employers often provide pest controller training programs covering pesticide application and key aspects of the job like managing rodents and termites.
Such programs usually take approximately three months to complete. Depending on the nature of their training program, new pest control technicians may have the opportunity to practice their skills in facilities designed to replicate real-world settings like hotels and restaurants.
After you must have completed a pest control training program, you will undergo hands-on training through your employer. You will likely work as an apprentice and be supervised by a licensed specialist. After you complete your apprenticeship, you will be eligible to sit for your certification exam.
Have it in mind that training courses are commonly available at a state’s Cooperative Extension department, community colleges, employers, or pesticide companies. There also are companies who do nothing but teach pest control training courses. Sometimes, these companies are managed by retired exterminators.
The cost of these courses can vary from literally free to several thousand dollars, with the majority falling somewhere in between. There are also many good pest control training books that will help you improve both your knowledge of pest control and your chances of passing the licensing examinations.
- Obtain Licensure
Pest control technicians must be licensed in most states. To become licensed, most states require that technicians receive training and pass an exam. In most states, applicants for certification as pest control exterminators must pass at least two written examinations.
One (commonly called the “Core” exam) tests the candidate’s mastery of basic concepts common to all pesticide applications such as knowledge of rules and regulations, record keeping, the ability to read and comprehend label instructions, mastery of the math needed to properly mix and apply chemicals, and knowledge of the procedures to be followed in the event of a spill or other emergency.
The second written test is commonly called a “Category” examination, and specializes more on factors specific to the type of pest control the candidate wishes to practice. Remember that the category tests measure things such as the candidate’s ability to properly identify pests common within the specialty, special safety considerations for that type of pest control, and how to select and apply pesticides commonly used in that specialty.
Some states also require that individuals pass the Core examination before they’re allowed to work under the license of another person who is not physically present on the job. In a few states, oral or practical examinations also are required.
- Get a Job and Complete Continuing Education
You can search and get jobs through online job boards, company websites, and through your pest control training school. The National Pest Management Association maintains a list of pest control companies that may be hiring. You can also access their career centre as well to look for jobs.
Pest control exterminators also need to renew their licenses periodically; many states grant licenses valid for three to five years. To maintain licensure, states may require that exterminators complete continuing education courses before their licenses expire.
Continuing education pest control classes are available through a variety of pest control schools and institutions and on a range of topics. For instance, technicians can earn continuing education credits in forest, aquatic, or public health pest control. Recertification classes are often available online and usually have an associated fee.
Becoming a pest control exterminator mainly requires pest control training and licensure. With the industry experiencing quite a bit of employee turnover, jobs often become available as other exterminators leave to carve other career paths.