How to Get into a Career in Pest Control

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An article by contributor Dixie Somers.

Pest control experts are a godsend when both domestic and commercial interests, such as homeowners, renters or business owners, find themselves facing an infestation by such creepy-crawlers as roaches, scorpions, mice or rats, mosquitoes, termites, ticks, ants, wildlife and more. The most recent national outbreak of bedbugs proved an example of how critical the services of an exterminator are. For someone who wants to become a pest control expert, the following is a brief outline of what it takes to get that job:

Exactly What Does a Pest Control Expert Do?

Unwanted pests are eager to seek out and occupy buildings and their surroundings. Pest control experts are responsible for the removal, control and management of these creatures to protect the safe occupancy and structural integrity of buildings. Experts in the field of extermination are required to design and implement integrated pest management (IPM) plans requiring workers to know both the identity and biology of a vast array of pests. This includes having the knowledge of best practices in the control and removal of pests.

Typical tasks for the pest control expert may include:

  • Building inspections
  • Treatment determination
  • Cost estimates for services rendered
  • Use of baits and traps
  • Pesticide application
  • IPM plans
  • Operating a truck and spray equipment
  • Fumigation
  • Building barriers to prevent future infestations
  • Structural modification and/or repair

The pest control worker must travel to the client’s location and work both indoors and outside in all kinds of weather. The physical demands include kneeling, bending, climbing a ladder and even crawling through tight spaces. Protective gear including goggles, gloves and respirator, when required, are all part of the job.

Additional Skills Required Include the Following:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Customer service
  • Physical stamina
  • Detail-oriented

Education, Training, Certifications, Registrations and Licenses

All pesticide products are approved by the EPA. Given the toxicity of the chemicals used, workers are required to be trained, certified, licensed and remain compliant with pesticide usage as labeled.

Entry level workers need a minimum of a high school diploma and a clean driving record. On-the-job training for technicians is augmented by formal technical instruction. In most cases, pest control training can be accomplished in three months or less. Workers typically advance with experience rising to the level of supervisor while others might plan to start their own company.

Licensing requires technicians complete general training in the safe use of pesticides. Workers continue education classes after completing required certification training as pest control methods continue to evolve with advancements and technological improvements.

Licensure requirements vary from state to state. However, all workers must fulfill a training program and pass an exam. Some states may have further requirements such as completing an apprenticeship or passing a background check.

Technical Schools

Pest-control schools are either public or private institutions and include the following:

  • Community colleges
  • University extension programs
  • Technical schools
  • Specialized pest-control training centers

As with most certification and licensing programs, many schools offer pest-control correspondence courses online for more flexibility. You just need to be sure they are accredited to obtain the proper qualifications for certification. While in the employ of a pest control company like Allstate Pest Control, your employer may fully or partially reimburse tuition and fees for both basic and continuing education at a preferred training center.

With qualified training courses and on-the-job training, you can move up the ladder, focus on specializing to gain a competitive advantage or aim your goal toward starting your own pest control company. With careful execution of pesticide application, good customer-service skills and a goal-oriented outlook, obtaining your desired results in the pest control field is quite easily obtained.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband. You can follower her on Twitter @DixieSomers.


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