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How To Get A Job As An Exterminator

how to get a job in pest control

The job of an exterminator is one of those careers that will never become obsolete. Wherever people live, in whatever age and time, there will be bugs and other vermin that need to be exterminated. The job involves much more than just spraying insecticide around a home.

What A Modern Exterminator's Job Consists Of

Nowadays an exterminator must be very knowledgeable about the kinds of poisons that they use around a home or business. The EPA and OSHA have strict guidelines about how pesticides must be complied and an exterminator must comply with these in addition to local laws. Safe practices must be learned and followed to avoid harming humans and animals. An exterminator may set traps for certain animals, clean up areas that have been contaminated by animal and insect waste, install physical blocks to prevent them from coming in and other measures. In addition to spraying around the home they may use special ground treatments such as spikes or trenching around a home to kill termites and even enclose the entire structure in a tent which is filled with fumigating spray. Exterminators may tear in to existing walls to locate colonies of insects such as bees or termites. There are exterminators that specialize in all of the above as well as remove larger animals such as alligators and raccoons. Pest control is a very broad field to say the least.

In addition to the basic work of exterminating pests, the job of an exterminator consists of identifying infestations and documenting damage, preparing a treatment plan and bidding the job at a reasonable rate.                    

Requirements To Become A Licensed Exterminator

Each state has it's own rules and regulations. Generally person wishing to start his or her own business must file for a business license. In addition they and their employees must be licensed as a Certified Commecial Applicators or Licensed Commercial Technicians. In many states a LCT may work under the supervision of the owner who has a Certified Commercial Applicator license. To get a job working for an existing pest control company may only require taking a Licensed Commercial Technician exam.

What Is Required To Work For A Pest Control Company As An Exterminator

Below are the requirements for a licensed commercial technician in the state of Texas. Other states have similar laws, some stricter and some more lenient. The state of California refers to an employee of a Licensed Commercial Applicator as a "Field Representative". Most states require employees to be at least 18 years old, be fingerprinted when testing and pass a background check.

(Sample Requirements: Texas) Before taking the exam the employee must have worked as an apprentice and studied at least twenty classroom hours of the following:

  • Federal and state laws that regulate the industry
  • Recognition of pests and pest damage
  • Pesticide labels and label comprehension
  • Pesticide safety
  • Environmental protection
  • Application equipment and techniques
  • Pesticide formulations and actions
  • Emergency procedures and pesticide cleanup, and Procedures for immediate reporting of spills and misapplications
  • Basic principles of mathematics, chemistry, toxicology and entomology
  • Non-Chemical pest control techniques, including biological, mechanical, and prevention techniques.
  • In addition the apprentice must have worked a minimum of forty hours in each pest control category in which they are requesting a license and eight hours of additional classroom time in each category they are seeking a license in. The employer must keep records of the employees training and present these upon request to the state examiner. The apprentice usually has twelve months to complete the program or retraining must be done. Once licensed the applicator can perform the duties for which he is qualified under the supervision of a Licensed Commercial Applicator who has contact with them at least three days a week.

    In addition to the above rules there are OSHA, EPA and other rules that must be adhered to. You will spend much of your first year with a pest control company taking classes, often on your own time, in addition to working as an apprentice assisting licensed applicators. It should be considered that once you have your technician's license you can work your way up to licensed commercial applicator, where the better money is. You may find work as a supervisor or choose to start your own business one day.

    Continuing Education Requirements For Licensed Exterminators

    Nearly all states have continuing education requirements for both licensed commercial applicators and commercial technicians. This may consist of eight hours or more each twelve months of a course related to pest control. It is up to both the licensed commercial applicator and the licensed commercial technicians the work under them to keep abreast of and abide by OSHA, EPA and other laws.

    The job of an exterminator is as much paperwork and rule following as it is spraying for bugs. The job requires applicants that are good in math and science to understand the chemicals that are being used and the complex life cycle and biology of the bugs they are trying to exterminate. It is however a good job, and one that will be secure for years to come. If you meet the minimum requirements (age 18 and GED or High School Diploma) get a resume together and submit applications to pest control companies where you live. It often takes persistence, but if you can get a foot in the door as an apprentice it could turn into a lucrative life-long career.




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