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How to Become a Pest Control Worker

State laws require pest control workers to be licensed. Most workers need a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training, which usually lasts less than 3 months.

Many pest control companies require that employees have good driving records.

Education and Training

A high school diploma or the equivalent is the minimum qualification for the majority of pest control jobs.

Most pest control workers begin as technicians, receiving both formal technical instruction and on-the-job training from employers. They often study specialties such as rodent control, termite control, fumigation, and ornamental and turf control. Technicians also must complete general training in pesticide use and safety. Pest control training can usually be completed in less than 3 months.

After completing the required training, workers are qualified to provide supervised pest control services. Because pest control methods change, workers often attend continuing education classes, which are frequently provided by product manufacturers.


Pest control workers must be licensed. Licensure requirements vary by state, but workers usually must complete training and pass an exam. Some states have additional requirements, such as having a high school diploma or GED, completing an apprenticeship, and passing a background check. States may have more requirements for applicators.


Pest control workers typically advance as they gain experience. Applicators with several years of experience often become supervisors. Some experienced workers start their own pest management company.

Important Qualities

Bookkeeping skills. Pest control workers must keep accurate records of the hours they work, chemicals they use, and bills they collect. Self-employed workers need these skills to run their businesses.

Customer-service skills. Pest control workers must be friendly and polite when they interact with customers at the customers’ homes or businesses. 

Detail oriented. Because pest control workers sometimes apply toxic chemicals, they must follow instructions carefully to prevent harm to residents, pets, the environment, and themselves.

Physical Strength. Pest control workers often must spend hours on their feet, frequently crouching, kneeling, and crawling. Applicators, in particular, also must wear heavy protective gear.

Stamina. Pest control workers must be able to withstand uncomfortable conditions, such as heat when they climb into attics in the summertime and cold when they slide into crawl spaces during winter.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition