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Commercial Pesticide Applicator

Part 1. General Information
Part 2. Commercial Applicator Certification
Part 3. Recertification of Commercial Applicators

Part 1. General Information

Pesticide Applicator Certification is designed to demonstrate a certain level of competency by pesticide users on the safe use of pesticides. Users of pesticides are classified as either private applicators or commercial applicators.

PRIVATE APPLICATOR - any person who uses, or supervises the use, of pesticides for the purpose of raising an agricultural commodity. The application can be done on land owned or rented by the applicator or the applicator's employer. Examples of private applicators are dairy farmers, vegetable or fruit growers, greenhouse growers, ranchers, nurserymen, and home gardeners. Request a private exam application if your occupation requires private certification.

COMMERCIAL APPLICATOR - any person who applies pesticides for non-agricultural purposes. Any person who uses, or supervises the use, of pesticides on a "for hire" basis.* Also, any person who applies pesticides as part of his job with any governmental agency. Examples of commercial applicators are those who work for exterminators; landscapers; tree services; aerial applicators; weed control firms; pet groomers; apartments, motels, nursing homes, restaurants, etc. who do their own pest control work; and governmental agencies such as mosquito extermination commissions, public schools, Departments of Public Works, Departments of Health, the DOT, etc.

*If you apply pesticides "for hire" in New Jersey, State law requires that your business obtain a Pesticide Applicator Business License. The definition of a Pesticide Applicator Business is a business (or person) who, either wholly or in part, holds himself out for hire to apply pesticides. Examples are: pet groomers, exterminators, landscapers, tree services, aerial applicators, etc. This Pesticide Applicator Business License is in addition to your Certified Pesticide Applicator license.

NOTE: To make changes to personal information associated with a current license, including updates to the home address, please submit
License Change Form VPC-004 to

Part 2. Commercial Applicator Certification

Certification is accomplished by passing pesticide applicator certification exams. Everyone must pass the basic "Core" certification exam. This exam is based on the Pesticide Applicator Training Manual - Core. To be eligible to take the Core exam, the applicant shall submit proof of completion of a Department approved Basic Pesticide Training Course (see Notice). The course shall provide a working knowledge of the following: proper use of application equipment, potential hazards involved in applying pesticides, instructions for the mixing of pesticides, protective clothing and equipment, applicable State and Federal pesticide laws and regulations, interpretation of pesticide labels and understanding integrated pest management. Proof of course completion must be uploaded to the PACER system at when applying to take the Core exam.

In addition to the Core exam, one or more "Category" certification exams must be passed. The Category exams needed depend on the type of pest control that will be done. To be eligible to take a Category exam, the applicant must complete a minimum of 40 hours of "on-the-job training" (OJT) for each category applied for. By definition, 40 hours of on-the-job training shall consist of a minimum number of separate applications, as specified in the following table. Certification in Category 10 and 13 is exempt from the category training requirements. Certification in Category 11 requires training in aerial only. Proof of the required training in Category 11 shall be submitted with the exam application form.

To submit the 40 hours of OJT information, indicate on the "Category Training Verification Form" the following information:

1. Check the yes block and fill in the category training received;
2. Enter the applicant's name, signature and date;
3. Complete the trainer's name, signature and date;
4. Submit the "Category Training Verification Form" with the exam application form.

Forty hours of OJT is required if it is available to you. Presently, you may take training courses for categories 3A, 3B, 7A, 7B and 8B, in lieu of the 40 hours of OJT, if it is not available to you. For other categories, an exemption is available. Some of the situations that would qualify for this exemption include a person who is starting their own business, or someone working for an apartment complex, school or government agency and where there is no Certified Pesticide Applicator currently employed to give the training. To apply for the exemption, indicate on the Training Verification Form VPE-002 why the 40 hours of OJT is not available to you and submit along with the exam application form. You may also sign Affidavit Form VPE-001 if you have been previously licensed in the categories you are applying for. Upload the signed affidavit to the PACER portal at when you apply for you category exam.

Categories Available and Minimum Number of Applications to beWitnessed or Performed:

Category of Work
Minimum Number of Applications
Category 1A - Plant
Category 1B - Animals
Category 2 - Forest pest control
Category 3A - Ornamental
Category 3B - Turf
Category 3C - Interior plantscaping
Category 4 - Seed treatment
Category 5 - Aquatic pest control
Category 6B - Right of Way
Category 7A - General and household pest control
Category 7B - Termites & other wood destroying insects
Category 7C - Fumigation pest control
Category 7D - Food manufacturing and processing
Category 7E - Wood preserving pest control
Category 7F - Antifoulants
Category 8A - General Public Health
Category 8B - Mosquito control
Category 8C - Campground pest control
Category 8D - Cooling water pest control
Category 8E - Sewer Root Control
Category 8F - Pet grooming
Category 9 - Regulatory pest control
Category 10 - Demo & Research
Category 11 - Aerial pest control
Category 12A - Water Sanitization
Category 12B - Sterilization
Category 13 - School IPM

The Category exams are based on information contained in specific Category training manuals. The training manuals for all of the exams can be obtained through Rutgers from your County Cooperative Extension Office or at

When you have passed the Core exam and at least one Category exam, you are fully certified, unless you have taken either the Category 10, 11, or 13 exam. For Category 10, 11, and 13 you must pass at least one other category exam to be fully certified. Because Categories 10, 11, and 13 are general categories; an additional category exam, which is more specific to the type of pesticide work being done, must be taken

You must become fully certified within one year of passing any certification exam or the exams previously passed will become invalid.

You will automatically receive a license invoice in the mail when you are fully certified. You cannot use your certification until your licensing invoice has been paid. Once you are fully certified, you must maintain your certification. This is accomplished by meeting the requirements of recertification.

Part 3. Commercial Applicator Recertification

Once you are fully certified, your certification is good for a minimum of 5 years. Each certification exam you have passed will have its own 5 year recertification date. The recertification date will be an October 31st date and is calculated by adding 5 years to the next October 31st date following the date you passed the exam (example: pass exam May 15, 2000; next October 31st date is October 31, 2000; recertification date is October 31, 2005).

Recertification can be accomplished in two ways:

1) Retake the exams during the 5th year.

2) Accumulate units of recertification credit over the 5 year period by attending NJ approved courses, seminars and meetings. A Commercial applicator must accumulate 8 units (one unit equals 30 minutes of instruction time) of Core subject matter credit and 16 units of Category subject matter credit (for each Category of certification) within the 5 year recertification period. Course information can be obtained by contacting your County Cooperative Extension Office, industry associations, and private companies which handle such courses. Contact information for course providers can be found in our Online Reports under “Recertification Course...”

You will receive an update of your recertification status once a year with your license renewal. The "Recertification Update Form" will tell you when your 5-year period is up for each area you are certified in, how many units you have accumulated and how many more you need. If you are not eligible for recertification you will not receive this notice. Visit our Online Reports to check your license recertification status and credit transcript.

For detailed information on certification and training requirements, refer to the NJ Pesticide Control Regulations N.J.A.C. 7:30 - 6. If there are any questions on Commercial Applicator certification, please call the PCP at 609-984-6568


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Last Updated: May 23, 2023