What Licenses do Pest Control Businesses Need?

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Quick Reference

The pest control industry has been booming in recent years. While it may not sound like a glamorous field to all, there is a serious need for pest control companies for both residential and commercial clients alike. 

Pest control work can be rewarding, too. Finding and disposing of insect or vertebrate pests may not be for everyone, but pest control business owners know that they’re providing a valuable and needed service that improves the health, safety, and peace of mind to their customers. 

There are a few directions to take your pest control business, depending on the market you want to service. But whether you want to offer residential pest control services or start an agricultural pest control business, the licensing and certification process will look similar. This is because pesticide use is highly controlled and requires trained employees to handle chemicals. 

So before you start making plans to get your pest control business off the ground, let’s take a look at all of the licensing and certification requirements your new business will need. 

Occupational Licensing 

As with many specialty businesses, there are certain occupational licensing and insurance requirements you’ll need in place before you’re ready to start inspecting homes or businesses. The application of pesticides is typically regulated by a state’s department of agriculture or state pesticide regulation office. However, there are certain cities that have their own local licensing requirements. 

How to Get a Pest Control License

To get started, each employee who will be spraying chemicals will likely need a pest control license, usually referred to as a commercial applicator license. You can usually submit a pest control license application to your state’s department of agriculture or pesticide regulation office if one exists. Even if you intend to only service residential customers, the use of pesticides requires specific safety training, certification, and insurance coverage to operate a successful and legal business. 

State and local licensing requirements can vary, but you’ll want to make sure you understand the conditions of your pest control license. Generally speaking, you may need to maintain certain valid training certifications and continuous insurance coverage. 

Learn more about the state licensing requirements from the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials.

How Much Does a Pets Control License Cost?

Every state licenses pest control applicators and on average expect to spend $250 in state and exam fees according to the Institute for Justice.

Insurance Requirements 

Your pest control business license likely won’t be valid without the proper business insurance in place. 

Business insurance for a pest control business looks similar to other on-site service providing businesses. You’ll of course need a Certificate of Insurance to prove that you’re covered, but your policy itself will be made up of several key components. These are the most common aspects of a business insurance policy that you’ll need. 

  • General liability insurance: Despite the best training and planning, things can still go wrong on the job. That’s where general liability business insurance comes in. This type of insurance policy protects you against bodily injury and property damage claims from customers. 
  • Worker’s compensation: Worker’s comp insurance is required across the United States for every business to carry, and helps cover lost wages for an employee if they are injured on the job. 
  • Commercial auto: A big part of the pest control industry is traveling to customers’ homes or businesses with equipment and chemicals. Whatever vehicles you use to transport your team and supplies will need a commercial auto insurance policy. 
  • Surety bond: Surety bonds are designed to guarantee services are carried out by the service provider to the customer. It protects the consumer from fraud and any damage that results from the service provider from not adhering to industry regulations. Each state sets its own required coverage for surety bonds.

Employee Training 

Pesticide applicators need special training to work legally in any state. The training varies from state to state, but will usually include a Pesticide Safety Education program, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This is because employees will need to be certified applicators to use pesticides, which can contain harmful chemicals. 

The exact licensing employees need will also depend on what role exactly the employee carries out. For example, there may be different requirements for a general pesticide applicator license than for a commercial pesticide license. These classes can often be accessed through vocational programs at private and community colleges. 

Annual License Renewals

Pest control business licenses issued by a state or city agency typically need to be renewed annually. Additionally, you’ll need to ensure that you maintain continuous business insurance coverage. 

State/Local General Business Licenses 

You may also need to get a business license for your pesticide business from the state or city in which you operate. Whether you need a license from your state or city will depend on where you live, but this business license is what allows you to operate legally in your jurisdiction. 

Sales Tax 

Sales tax isn’t just for the exchange of goods. In many states, pest control businesses are considered taxable services–even inspections where no pests are found. Check out our resources to learn more about sales tax permits, and to see if your state considers pest control a taxable service.