Do I need a license? And other common questions
Do I need a license?
The need for a pesticide applicator license is determined by the types of pesticides applied and the circumstances under which the pesticides are applied.
The term pesticide covers a wide range of products. By definition, a pesticide is any naturally or synthetically derived substance used to kill, control or repel undesired insects, weeds, fungi, bacteria, mammals, birds, rodents or other organisms. Products which are organic are also pesticides if they are used as described above. Consequently, these substances may include insecticides or bug sprays; herbicides, including weed killers like weed and feed and top killer products; fungicides or disease controls, rodenticides; deer repellents; defoliants; growth regulators, sanitizers; and disinfectants.
The BPC classifies all pesticides into three categories: general use pesticides, products available to the general public but requiring a license for some application; restricted use pesticides, chemicals for use and application only by licensed individuals; and limited use pesticides, products for use only by licensed applicators with a special BPC permit.
The purpose for using a pesticide determines the type of license required. In Maine, pesticide licenses fall under three major categories: agricultural basic applicators, for pesticide use in agriculture or the production of other commodities using only general use pesticides; private applicators , for restricted and limited use pesticide application in agriculture or the production of other commodities; and commercial applicators , for any individual who uses any pesticides in public places (such as golf courses, campgrounds, apartment houses, hospitals and nursing homes) on a "for-hire" basis (for services such as lawn care, water damage restoration or mold remediation) or as a government employee. The BPC defines two levels of commercial license: operator and master.
Printer-friendly, detailed brochure about licenses and licensing requirements [PDF]
Do I need an agricultural basic pesticide applicator license?
An agricultural basic pesticide applicator license is required for fruit, vegetable and grain growers who use only general use (over-the-counter) pesticides and annually sell more than $1,000 of plants or plant products intended for human consumption.
To obtain an agricultural basic pesticide applicator license, the candidate must pass one written, closed book examination. The test is called the Core Exam and covers general pesticide information. The passing score is 80%. Once the exam is passed, the candidate is certified for three years and is eligible for a license. Licenses are obtained by submitting an application for an agricultural basic pesticide applicator license and $15 to the BPC.
Core exams are offered through county offices of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension (UMCE). Applicants should call the BPC, telephone 207-287-2731, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm licensing needs and testing location. The BPC strongly urges use of self-help study materials available for purchase through UMEXT's Pest Management Office, 491 College Avenue, Orono, Maine 04473-1295; telephone 800-287-0279 or, outside Maine, 207-581-3880; or e-mail email@example.com; or go to UMCE's training manual Web pages.
Pesticide use is a rapidly changing technology. New products, application methods, safety standards and regulations are introduced every year. To update applicators regularly, the BPC requires three hours of approved continuing education training in order to renew the this license. The BPC assigns and records credit for attending courses offered by itself, UMCE, industry and trade organizations. Credit is also accepted for attending out-of-state sessions.
Printer-friendly, detailed brochure about this license [PDF]
Do I need a private applicator license?
A private license is necessary for anyone who wishes to purchase, apply or supervise application of a restricted or limited use pesticide with the intent of producing a commodity. These pesticides may be used only on property owned, leased or rented by the licensee or licensee's employer. Typical private license holders include farmers, greenhouse operators, florists, orchardists, Christmas tree growers and foresters.
To obtain a private license, the candidate must pass two written, closed book examinations. The first, called a Core Exam, covers general pesticide information. A second Commodity Exam measures knowledge of pest management practices for a given crop or crop family. Once exams are passed, the candidate is certified for three years and is eligible for a license. The passing score is 80% Licenses are obtained by submitting an application for private license and $15 to the BPC.
Private exams are offered through county offices of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension (UMCE). Applicants should call the BPC, telephone 207-287-2731, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm licensing needs and testing location. The BPC strongly urges use of self-help study materials available for purchase through UMEXT's Pest Management Office, 491 College Avenue, Orono, Maine 04473-1295; telephone 800-287-0279 or, outside Maine, 207-581-3880; e-mail email@example.com; or go to UMCE's training manual Web pages. .
Pesticide use is a rapidly changing technology. New products, application methods, safety standards and regulations are introduced every year. To update applicators regularly, the BPC requires six hours of approved continuing education training in order to renew the private license. The BPC assigns and records credit for attending courses offered by itself, UMCE, industry and trade organizations. Credit is also accepted for attending out-of-state sessions.
Do I need a commercial license?
A commercial license is required for any one of the following situations:
- Application of any restricted/limited use pesticide for purposes other than producing and agricultural commodity
- Use of any pesticide as a service for which compensation is received (examples include lawn care, water damage restoration, mold remediation, tree & shrub care and pest control)
- Use of any pesticide on sites open to public use. Property is considered open to use by the public when the owner permits routine access by the public, even if a fee is charged for such use. Examples range from office and apartment buildings to golf courses and other outdoor recreation facilities.
- Use of any pesticide by a government employee as part of their job duties. Government employees include but are not limited to school, town, county, housing authority, water district, State, Federal and Defense officials.
The commercial applicator/operator certification is the minimum license requirement for individuals employed as technicians under supervision of a licensed master applicator. The operator's license is in effect only if the employing company or organization has at least one licensed master applicator.
The commercial applicator/master certification is required for one individual within each company, organization or agency and at every branch office of that company. This license is generally intended for the owner, supervisor or manager as long as it is the person responsible for major pest control decisions, for establishing policies related to proper pesticide use, and for employee training and overall work practices.
How do I earn a commercial license certification?
Persons wishing to obtain either level of commercial applicator certification must pass two or more written, closed book examinations with the exception of pool and spa and mold remediation and water damage restoration applicators who must pass only one test. The two minimum tests are the Core Exam which covers general pesticide information and the Category Exams which test knowledge of pest management practices pertinent to the specific profession where pesticides are used, such as in forestry, lawn care services or structural pest control (see full category list). The core exam and category exams cost $10.00 each.
(exam fees are waived for governmental examinees)
Master-level applicants must also successfully complete a test on pesticide regulations and pass an oral examination conducted by the BPC staff. These exams cost an additional $50.00. (exam fees are waived for governmental examinees)
Tests must be scheduled by submitting a completed application form and the proper fee to the BPC. Exam applications are available by visiting our online Download Library or from the BPC. Exams are generally held weekly at the BPC offices in Augusta (usually on Wednesdays) or in Presque Isle by special arrangement (usually on the last Friday of each month) . Self-help study materials are available through the UMCE Pest Management Office, 491 College Avenue, Orono, ME 04773; telephone 800-287-0279 or, outside Maine, 207-581-3880, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or go to UMCE's training manual Web pages.
A commercial certification is valid for six years; however, the commercial license must be renewed biennially. So that applicators remain current in the latest technologies and regulations while they are certified, the BPC requires holders to attend continuing education courses. The number of credits (1 credit = 1 hour of training) needed for recertification varies according to the license level. See required credits for more information. As with recertification for private license holders, commercial applicators participate in category specific training sessions made available through the BPC, UMCE, industry and trade organizations both in Maine and out of state.
Why bother to earn a license?
There are many sound reasons for having a license when using pesticides in any situation described here.
For one, it is the law!
For another, a license represents the level of knowledge needed to use pesticides in a manner that is responsible and effective. Recertification credits further that competency, enabling the applicator to make the best pest control decisions based on the latest technology. Certification also adds up to credibility that earns respect of fellow applicators and a positive image in the eyes of the general public.
On the other hand, unlicensed applicators invite a host of dangers to themselves, to their families and communities, and to the environment for which there is neither ethical nor legal defense.
If pesticides are important to your profession, an applicator is an important part of showing that you are, indeed, a professional.