Applicator Training

Individuals planning to become certified to apply pesticides as a commercial applicator (including not for hire), a registered technician, private applicator or a government employee, will need to undergo some type of training in the process.  The study materials for each type of certification are available from Virginia Tech’s Pesticide Programs.  The Virginia pesticide applicator training manuals discussed on this page can be ordered from VTPP online via their Training Aids webpage.  Information about which manual should be used for each type of certification will be discussed below.

An exam is required to obtain each type of certification.  There is a different exam for each type of certification.  For those seeking a commercial applicator certification, there will be a core exam plus exams specific to the categories in which they will be working.  If a commercial applicator wants to purchase restricted use products for use on their own property, they will also need to be certified as a private applicator. 

Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs has developed an Online Core Manual Training which applicators will find useful in preparing for exams based on the Core Manual. For information on how to enroll in this course, visit VTPP’s Online Instruction page.  Additionally, some county extension agents conduct certification preparatory courses for private and commercial applicators.  In some cases, the exam is offered at the conclusion of the course.  To view available prep courses visit VTPP’s Pesticide Applicator Certification Prep Courses page or contact your local cooperative extension agent.  The list will be updated by VTPP as more courses are added.

The following information outlines the training and experience requirements for the different types of certification.  There are exam fees and renewal fees associated with certain certifications.  A link is provided under each type of certification which will direct you to information about applications and fees.  Once certified, individuals will have to either attend recertification courses bi-annually to maintain their certification or retake the certification exam(s).  Visit Maintaining Your Pesticide Applicator Certificate to learn more.

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General Knowledge-All

Private Applicator

Registered Technician

Commercial Applicator

General Knowledge Requirements for All Certified Applicators
"Certified applicator" means a person who: (i) has satisfactorily completed the Board requirements for certification as a commercial applicator, registered technician, or private applicator; and (ii) has been issued a valid certificate.

All applicators will be tested prior to receiving certification in the following areas to demonstrate their practical knowledge of the principles and practices of pest control and the safe use of pesticides.  The Core Manual will provide a general understanding of these topics while category manuals will present information specific to certain crops, sites and/or uses.  All applicants for certification will be tested in the following areas as required in 2 VAC 5-685-90.B:

  1. Federal and Commonwealth of Virginia Pesticide Laws and Regulations;
  2. Understanding and interpreting pesticide labels ;
  3. Handling of accidents and incidents;
  4. Proper methods of storing, mixing/loading, transporting, handling, applying, and disposing of pesticides;
  5. Safety and health, including proper use of personal protective equipment;
  6. Potential adverse effects caused by the application of pesticides under various climatic or environmental conditions, such as drift from the target area, pesticide run-off, ground water and drinking water contamination, and hazard to endangered species; and
  7. Recognizing common pests and general pest biology.

Private Applicator Training

"Private applicator" means an individual who uses or supervises the use of any pesticide that is classified for restricted use for purposes of producing any agricultural commodity on property owned or rented by him or his employer or, if applied without compensation other than trading of personal services between producers of agricultural commodities, on the property of another person.

Study MaterialsCore Manual-Applying Pesticides Correctly; Federal and Commonwealth of Virginia 
                                Pesticide Laws and Regulations; Pesticide Labels.

Training Requirements-2 VAC 5-685-20; 2 VAC 5-685-40; 2 VAC 5-685-80; 2 VAC 5-685-110

While there are no specific experience requirements, individuals must be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the information specified in the General Requirements for All Certified Applicators section above.  The Board has made provision for growers who are unable to read or understand labels as long as they can demonstrate competence to apply restricted use pesticides on their own properties.  Under these provisions, an Office of Pesticide Services investigator can consult with the appropriate Virginia Cooperative Extension agent to determine competency.  Based on this consultation, the investigator can recommend that the Board grant a waiver of the literacy requirement however the certification will be limited to a specific category or product.

For additional information about becoming a certified private applicator or to obtain an application to take an exam, click here.  There is no cost to take the private applicator exam.

Registered Technician Training

"Registered technician" means an individual who has satisfactorily completed the Board requirements for certification to apply general use pesticides, and to apply restricted use pesticides while under the direct supervision of a certified commercial applicator. Registered technicians render services similar to those of a certified commercial applicator, but have not completed all the requirements to be eligible for certification as a commercial applicator.
Study MaterialsCore Manual-Applying Pesticides Correctly; Federal and Commonwealth of Virginia
                                Pesticide Laws and Regulations; Pesticide Labels

Training Requirements-2 VAC 5-685-20; 2 VAC 5-685-50; 2 VAC 5-685-120
The Board requires that Registered Technicians receive the following training.

  1. The trainee must receive on the job training in the proper application of pesticides under the direct on-site supervision of a certified commercial applicator for at least 20 hours during the six-month period prior to applying for certification.  The certified commercial applicator conducting the training must be physically present on the property and in constant visual contact with a person who is receiving training to become a registered technician.
  2. The trainee must complete at least 20 hours of board approved training.  VTPP’s Online Core Training can be completed as part of the 20 hours of training.
  3. The trainee must take the examination within 90 days from the time they are hired or transferred into a position where duties and functions involve the commercial use of pesticides.

Once the above training is complete, the trainee can apply to take the core exam.  Although registered technicians do not have to take a category specific exam, they will only work under the category or categories for which they were trained.  For example, if the business for which they work performs pesticide applications to lawns, the certified commercial applicator (CCA) responsible for training will be certified in Category 3B, Turf Pest Control.  The registered technician who receives training from the CCA will only be certified to apply pesticides in Category 3B. 
If the registered technician begins to perform pesticide applications which fall under a different category, they would be required to have additional training which is specific to the new category.  The following aspects of pesticide application must be covered as it related to the proposed category or subcategory of work:

  1. Pesticides to be used, including reading and understanding the label;
  2. Application equipment and techniques;
  3. Pest to be controlled;
  4. Personal protective equipment and clothing; and
  5. Environmental concerns, including storage and disposal of pesticides applied.

Individuals certified as Registered Technicians must operate under the supervision of a commercial applicator when using restricted-use pesticides.  No supervision is required when using general use pesticides. 

For additional information about becoming a certified registered technician or to obtain an application to take an exam, click here.

Commercial Applicator Training

"Commercial applicator" means any person who has completed the requirements for certification to use or supervise the use of any pesticide for any purpose or on any property other than as provided in the definition of private applicator.

Study MaterialsCore Manual-Applying Pesticides Correctly; Category Specific Manual(s);Federal and
                                Commonwealth of Virginia Pesticide Laws and Regulations; Pesticide Labels.

Training Requirements-2 VAC 5-685-20; 2 VAC 5-685-30; 2 VAC 5-685-70; 2 VAC 5-685-100
Applicants for commercial applicator certification are required to meet one of two requirements prior to applying to take the commercial core and category exams.

  1. Applicants must have been certified and employed as a registered technician for at least one year; or
  2. Applicants must possess one year of education, training or experience in a pesticide related field which provides the equivalent practical knowledge of proper pesticide use required of a registered technician.  An example, would be someone applying to become a commercial applicator in Category 1A ( Agricultural Plant Pest Control) who was employed on a farm where they applied general use pesticides for their employer as a pesticide handler.

Applicants will be tested on the information specified in the General Knowledge Requirements section above as well as the information found in the Category specific training manual.  The category manuals will provide information about specific pests and their biology that will be managed under that category.  If a commercial applicator wishes to manage pests or apply pesticides which are not covered under the category in which they are certified, they will need to meet the requirements for the new category and take another category specific exam.

Commercial applicators certified in other states may be eligible for reciprocity.  To determine if you qualify, contact the Certification, Licensing, Registration and Training section of the Office of Pesticide Services at 804-786-3798.

For additional information about becoming a certified commercial applicator or to obtain an application to take an exam, click here