How to Become a Pest Control Technician
You can start training to become a pest control technician right out of high school.
The sound of scurrying feet or burrows in wooden beams may be signs of an unwanted guest—or a whole colony of them. Ants, termites, fleas, roaches, rats, and bedbugs are more than just a nuisance—they can make living and working conditions unbearable and even cause structural damage. When you learn how to become a pest control technician, you’ll play a vital role in protecting buildings and their occupants from creepy crawlers of all shapes and sizes.
Once you become a fully qualified pest control technician, there will be plenty of work available to keep you busy: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 9% increase in pest control technician jobs over the next 10 years. So, if you’re ready to gear up in your uniform and gloves and put your sprayer to use, find out what skills you’ll need to nab your first pest control job.
What Is a Pest Control Technician?
Pest control technicians remove unwanted pests from the nooks, crannies, walls, and basements of residential homes, restaurants, offices, and industrial buildings. They know how to identify different types of pests and determine the best methods for removing them.
Typical pest control technician duties and responsibilities include:
- Conducting inspections.
- Identifying possible and actual pests.
- Measuring the area in need of treatment.
- Devising strategies for removal and control, such as using baits, traps, and pesticides.
- Separating pests from affected areas with barriers.
- Discussing pest problems and solutions with customers.
- Operating trucks equipped with power-spraying supplies.
- Using protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and respirators.
Most pest control technicians work full time for pest control and extermination services, while some are self-employed. Technicians often travel to clients’ homes or businesses and work both indoors and outdoors to root out unwelcome housemates.
How to Become a Pest Control Technician
You can start training to become a pest control technician right out of high school. Most entry-level pest control technician positions call for applicants to have a high school diploma or GED, a good driving record, and some part-time job experience. Once you’ve gotten your foot in the door through an apprenticeship or entry-level position, you’ll receive on-the-job technical instruction and training from more experienced coworkers, becoming an expert in everything from typical insect behavior to state regulations to what traps to use in what environments.
Becoming a pest control technician doesn’t require a college degree, but all states mandate a pest control license. Each state has different licensing requirements. Check with your state’s pest control licensing board to find out which requirements you need to fulfill. Requirements may include taking pest control courses at a community college, technical school, university extension program, or pest control training center.
In every state, you need to be trained in pesticide use and safety to become a fully qualified pest control technician. It generally takes less than three months to complete the training. Continuing education classes are often necessary to keep up with current pest control technologies and methods.
What Is a Pesticide Applicator?
After you’ve laid down the law for normal, everyday nuisances, you might be ready to take on larger and more difficult infestations as a pesticide applicator. Think of a pesticide applicator as an advanced pest control technician. Pesticide applicators use a much wider range of pesticides and strategies than pest control technicians and often specialize in a specific area of pest control.
For example, termite control technicians employ chemicals and baiting strategies specifically designed to eliminate termites. Fumigators remove certain types of large-scale pests with lethal gases called fumigants. Before filling a building with fumigants, fumigators seal it off to prevent any gas from leaking and ensure that there are no occupants left inside.
How to Become a Certified Pesticide Applicator
Working with dangerous gases or in larger-scale or more specialized operations as a certified pesticide applicator requires considerably more time and training than becoming a pest control technician. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees all pesticide applicator licensure to ensure that pesticides are used without harming human health or the environment.
There are two types of pesticide applicator licenses: a private pesticide applicator license for pesticide application on privately owned land, such as a farm, and a commercial pesticide applicator license for pesticide application on other types of land. The EPA requires both kinds of candidates to:
- Demonstrate knowledge of pest control issues and practices; pesticide storage, use, handling, and disposal; and legal obligations.
- Attend training courses that cover state and federal pesticide laws, pesticide safety, emergency procedures, pest control techniques, and pesticide formulations.
- Pass written or oral exams.
To get a better idea of the scope of pesticide applicator training and testing, take a look at the National Pesticide Applicator Certification Core Manual. It contains 11 chapters with in-depth information about pest management, state and federal laws, pesticide labeling, pesticide application, and safety measures.
Certified pesticide applicators must renew their licenses every three years by attending continuing education courses and taking an exam.
How Much Does a Pest Control Technician Make?
Monster data shows the median pest control technician salary is $34,872 per year. Salaries often fluctuate based on a candidate’s experience level and can range from $30,000 to more than $42,000.
You can look up the average salary for pest control technicians in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.
How to Find Pest Control Jobs
Now that you know how to become a pest control technician, let’s focus on your job search. When searching for pest control workers, employers look for candidates with strong organizational skills, attention to detail, customer-service skills, and enough physical stamina to shimmy into crawl spaces and climb multiple flights of stairs. You’ll need to write a killer resume to showcase your skills and qualifications to potential employers. To learn how, take a look at Monster’s tips for how to build a strong resume.
When you’re ready, take a look at Monster’s listings of pest control jobs in your area.
If you can’t find a local job or plan on moving, these are the top five states with the most pest control jobs:
The top five U.S. metro areas with the most pest control jobs are:
Don’t Bug Out About Your Job Search. Monster Can Help
Even after learning how to become a pest control technician, you’re likely pestered with the task of scoring that entry-level job. Monster will equip you with the right tools to squash your career obstacles. Sign up with Monster for free to upload your resume and find a job that best fits you.