As demand for services and your customer base increases, you must grow your team of exterminators. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated than that; you can’t just hire anybody. To effectively run your business, you need to employ certified applicators or technicians – otherwise, you risk harmful exposure and leave yourself vulnerable to lawsuits.

In order to, be well prepared for the hiring process you need to know what to look for in your team of pest exterminators. We’ve compiled a pest control certification checklist to help you choose the best exterminators to hire and avoid a day at court. 


What It Takes to Be a Certified Technician 

For any pesticide applicator to be considered legitimate, they must obtain pesticide licenses in your state. Here is what you can expect a certified exterminator candidate to have undergone to obtain proper certification.


1. State Provided Course Training

Your technician candidates should have taken courses approved by a state’s Department of Agriculture, or its governing equivalent. This course can take around three months and covers various topics that technicians will need to know. These topics vary from safety protocols to proper storage of hazardous chemicals. 


2. Exam and Licensure

After completion of the course, you are eligible to take the EPA’s Core exam. This consists of 90 questions standardized across the nation. It can be either oral or written depending on the state.

Once a technician passes the exam, they generally pay a fee to apply for a license. There are three different branches, or types, of licenses: fumigation, general pest control, and wood-destroying organisms.


3. On The Job Training

Upon certification, applicators are often required to complete field training before working independently. This can vary depending on the state, but when required it can take up to three months. As an employer, it may be beneficial to extend this requirement to ensure your technicians are fully and properly trained.


Renewal and Continuous Education

Exterminators must also abide by renewal policies, which depend on the state: some require renewal annually, others every few years. Some states may also require continued education.

It’s a good idea to make sure candidates have stayed up on continuing their education. You should also want to communicate to candidates that it’s essential for one to stay up to date on information and new practices when they are employed by you. You may even require more credits than the minimum, or specific courses that pertain to your business.

It is also worth noting that there can be requirement differences for private versus commercial applicators. For example, some states do not require private pesticide applicators to pass required tests, but they must seek certification/recertification and licensure. You should communicate to  your candidates that they need to follow the rigorous standards for commercial applicators certification.

The bottom line is that your exterminator candidates should have taken classes, become licensed, and had some experience with on-the-job training. The entire process can take from four to six months. Stay up to date on your state’s requirements so you know what the process entails and what certification to expect from your employees.


The Cost of Pest Control Certification

Pest control courses vary depending on their location—as do continuing education courses. Your technicians should expect to be prepared to invest in these programs to continue to grow in their careers.You might consider offering  financial support in these courses to encourage learning and make yourself an attractive employer to motivated technicians. 

The cost of the certification exam and pest control license requirements also vary greatly by state. They range from free to a few hundred dollars. Make sure your technicians are aware of, and prepared for, any pesticide licensing renewals fees that your state requires. 


The Interview Process

Always ask for proof of certification before beginning the interview process. Look up their pesticide license or call the Department of Agriculture (or its variant) to verify the legitimacy of the candidate. By double-checking an individual pesticide applicators licensure, you can usually determine the legitimacy of their work history. 

As the employer and decision-maker, use good judgment and your best instincts throughout the interview process.The candidate should be able to demonstrate their knowledge, and be able to explain the background as they explain any treatments and safety protocols. 

When interviewing candidates, ask them how they will protect themselves and your business from legal action. Ask them to share any issues they have had in the past and how they have resolved them. Look for candidates who truly seem to have your company’s best interests at heart. 

Finally, ask candidates for a list of references and how long they have been in practice. Ask them about various situations and how they would hypothetically handle them. The most important thing to look for when trying to avoid lawsuits is a pest control technician that is committed to safety and following regulations.


Communication is Key 

Beyond the interview process, it is important to establish a high level of communication between yourself and your technicians. You must consistently communicate with your technicians to ensure that they are maintaining positive legal relationships with your customers and that they have environmental protection in mind. A simple misunderstanding or a mistake left unattended can trigger devastating legal action. Effective communication may resolve problems before legal action becomes necessary. 

Encourage your employees to check in regularly with customers once the pest control services are rendered. Are their customers satisfied with the pest control offered; why or why not? By opening that line of communication and staying on top of any concerns, you will lower the risk of a lawsuit.

In many cases, a platform that specifically facilitates business communications between you and your team can be helpful. Open communication channels will help you, as a business owner, stay in touch with the realities of your business. Podium could be a great platform to provide this communication.  Our platform offers professional chat services that help you maintain open lines of communication with your employees and be aware of any issues that may arise.


Growing Your Business

Running a successful pest control business starts with hiring skilled, certified, and legally-sound technicians. It’s your responsibility to employ pesticide applicators or technicians who are appropriately equipped to treat your clients’ private or commercial properties. Follow this simple yet thorough checklist and you will successfully grow your team—all while avoiding potential lawsuits! If you’d like to learn about growing your business through leads read about it here.

Jennifer Wilson
Jennifer Wilson Strategic Home Services Account Executive

Jennifer Wilson is a home services professional at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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