University of Maryland Extension

Pesticide Applicator Certification and Business Licensing Requirements

The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is responsible for regulating the sale, use, storage, and disposal of pesticides and for enforcing the Maryland Pesticide Applicators Law. MDA is responsible for establishing guidelines and requirements for the application of pesticides, the certification of pesticide applicators and the licensing of businesses to ensure that pesticides are applied properly by competent individuals. There are several different types of pesticide applicator certificates and licenses issued by MDA, including: private applicator certificates, pesticide business licenses, pest control applicator certificates, pest control consultant licenses, pest control consultant certificates, public agency permits, public agency applicator certificates, and "not-for-hire" business licenses and pesticide applicator certificates.
The licenses are explained in this document: Click here to download the MDA document

University of Maryland Extension assists producers with education in certficiation and recertification of private pesticide applicators.  Classes are offered annually.

Private Applicator

A private applicator is a person who uses a restricted use pesticide in the production of an agricultural commodity on their own or leased property, such as dairy farms, orchards, nurseries, turf farms and greenhouses. In order to become certified as a private applicator, the individual must be at least 16 years of age and pass a written closed book certification examination administered by MDA with a score of 70% or higher. The examination consists of multiple choice questions on core, regulations and label interpretation. Subject matter contained in the examination is based on the Core training manual that is available from the county offices of the University of Maryland Extension (UME). The examination dates are scheduled by the county offices of the UME. The UME provides pesticide education to Maryland applicators. The county extension educators offer optional training sessions to assist applicators in preparing for the examination.

In order for a private applicator to renew their certificate, they are required to attend an MDA-approved recertification training session during the last year of the current certification period. Recertification training provides applicators with new information on pest control, health and environmental safety, pest management technology, and changes in pesticide laws and regulations to help the applicator continue to use pesticides safely and effectively. The training must consist of a minimum of 4 credits (1 credit is equal to ½ hour of training), that is the equivalent of two hours of pest or pesticide related topics as determined by MDA and UME. 

More infromation is available at the MDA Website (Go to Private Applicators to see the list of upcoming certification class, exam and recertification classes).

Video for the MDA Online Private Applicator Renewal

Video for the MDA Online Printing of a Private Applicator License

Commercial Pest Control

A pesticide business is any business that is offering pest control services or is applying general or restricted use pesticides for hire as part of a service or contract agreement. Pest control means engaging in, or offering to engage in, recommending, advertising, soliciting the use of, supervising the use of, or using, a pesticide or device for the identification, control, eradication, mitigation, detection, inspection, or prevention of a pest in, on, or around any house, building, water, air, land, plant, structure, or animal. This includes lawn care companies using weed and feed or organic pesticides, landscapers using Roundup or animal repellents, and firms providing structural pest control, including the use of devices using heat or freezing. A pesticide business license is required in order to provide these services.

In order to obtain a pesticide business license, a firm must complete an application obtained from MDA, designate at least one person certified as a pest control applicator in the categories in which they are providing pest control services, pay a $150 annual business license fee, and provide proof of general liability insurance.

In order to become certified as a pest control applicator, an individual must be at least 18 years of age and have at least one year of practical pesticide application experience as a registered employee in the category(ies) in which they want to become certified. The individual must pass examinations administered by MDA.

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