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Pesticide Applicators and Technicians

Current Status of Pesticide Licensing Programs due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Pesticide applicator exam sessions have resumed on a limited basis.  Those attending the exam session will be required to follow new protocols including social distancing.  The PaPlants website,, is being updated with the latest exam schedule as sessions become available. 

Due to COVID-19 state restrictions, PDA staff is operating on an altered office schedule.  Mail and requests coming into the office will be processed but expect some delays.  Additionally, all licensing requirements, including certification, renewing, and continuing education credits, are valid and required for all pesticide applicators and pesticide businesses.

Thank you for your patience as we navigate through this current situation.  If you have any questions about this information, please contact 717-772-5231 or

COVID-19 note about disinfectants and sanitizers: 

A pesticide applicator license is not required to apply disinfectants and sanitizers (except for those commercial/public applicators making applications to a swimming pool or cooling tower.)  All disinfectant and sanitizer products for use on surfaces are required to be registered and have an EPA registration number on the label.  Users must adhere to the product label instructions. 

EPA Registered products known to be effective for COVID-19

Private Pesticide Applicator

A private applicator certification is required to purchase and/or apply restricted use pesticides for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity on land which is owned or rented by that person or their employer. To become a certified private applicator, testing is required.  There is no charge for the exam.  Once the exam is successfully passed, there is an initial $10.00 fee for the license. 

Additional testing is required if the applicator intends to use a restricted use fumigant.  In this case, the applicator must obtain a special permit by passing a written examination specifically related to the type of fumigation which will be made.   

Private applicators are required to obtain update training (six core and six category) credits at three-year intervals for recertification.  There is a $10 fee to renew the license at three-year intervals. 

Applicators can find training opportunities for recertification through our Recertification Course Locator.  

Commercial/Public Pesticide Applicator

To be eligible for certification, a person must pass two written examinations (core and a minimum of one category) and be employed by a pesticide application business or plan to start their own.  Currently there are 26 categories of commercial and public applicators.

Core Test Fee, $50
Category Test $10 each
Commercial Applicator Fee - $40, annually
Public Applicator Fee - $10, Tri-annually

To maintain certification, applicators must attend update training programs in core and appropriate category-specific topics.  Six core credits and up to ten category credits for each category in which the applicator is certified are required.  If the recertification credit requirements are not met by the specified date, the applicator's license will expire and that applicator will no longer be permitted to make pesticide applications until the license is reinstated.

Applicators can find training opportunities for recertification through our Recertification Course Locator.  

Examinations are given through the PDA Regional Offices.  Dates and time are available at PaPlants under Pesticide Programs, then Certification Exam Locations.

Study materials for the exams are sold by the Publications Distribution Center at Penn State University 1-877-345-0691 or online at Penn State Study Packets

For answers to frequently asked questions, visit Penn State Extension's FAQ webpage.

Registered Pesticide Technician

Persons can register with the Department of Agriculture as a Registered Pesticide Technician.  To become Registered Technician the business must submit the person’s name and date of birth to the Department using the Registered Technician Form, which will start a minimum 30-day training period.  Training must be conducted by a certified applicator with at least 1-years experience and knowledge, who works for the business entity.  

During the 30-day training period, the technician is not permitted to make pesticide applications on their own, they must be under the continuous visual and voice control of a certified applicator.  Once licensed, applications made by technicians are limited to the use of materials, methods, and equipment on which they have documented training.  Technicians must be under the supervision of a certified applicator that can be on site within 5 hours if necessary.  Technician licensing is not transferable between businesses. 

Commercial Registered Technician Fee - $30, annually
Public Registered Technician Fee - $20, annually