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UMaine Cooperative Extension: Insect Pests, Ticks and Plant Diseases


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Pesticide Safety Education Program - Commercial Pesticide Applicators

A commercial license is required for any one of the following situations:

  • Application of any restricted/limited use pesticide for purposes other than producing an agricultural commodity
  • Use of any pesticide as a service for which compensation is received (examples include lawn care, pet grooming, 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.

Commercial Operator. 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.

Commercial Master. 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.

Certification Exams (at least two are required):

  1. Core Exam – In addition to exams covering each category of application, all commercial applicators must pass an exam based on the Core Manual. The Core exam includes basic subjects including pesticide labeling, safety, environmental concerns, pest organisms, pesticides, equipment, application techniques, and applicable laws and regulations. Also required shall be knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans.
  2. Category Exam – All Commercial Applicators must demonstrate knowledge of pest management practices pertinent to the specific profession where pesticides are used. One test must be taken for every category of intended treatments.
  3. Master-level applicants must also successfully complete a test on pesticide regulations, and pass an oral examination conducted by the BPC staff.

Recertification. A commercial certification is valid for six years; however, the commercial license must be renewed biennially. To keep applicators current with the latest technologies and regulations, 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. For more information see the BPC Recertification Chart.

For more information see the Maine Board of Pesticides Control.

Commercial Category exams are based on the following training manuals. All manuals are available in print. Some manuals are available free of charge in PDF format delivered through email. Click the PDF links to email a request – this link will open your email client; it will not download a PDF.
Requests for printed manuals and Logbooks should include a note indicating which manuals you wish to purchase, and a check or money order for the proper amount made out to Cooperative Extension. Mail to:
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Pest Management Office
491 College Ave.
Orono, ME 04473-1295

Commercial Pesticide Certification Categories Availability Price for printed manual
Core Manual In addition to exams covering each category of application, all commercial applicators must pass an exam based on the Core Manual. The Core exam includes basic subjects including pesticide labeling, safety, environmental concerns, pest organisms, pesticides, equipment, application techniques, and applicable laws and regulations. Also required shall be knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans. print or PDF 15.00
1A Agricultural Animal Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides on animals and to places on or in which animals are confined. Doctors of Veterinary Medicine engaged in the business of applying pesticides for hire as pesticide applicators are included in this subcategory; however, those persons applying pesticides as drugs or medication during the course of their normal practice are not included. Applicants must demonstrate knowledge of animals, their associated pests, and methods of pest control. Areas of practical knowledge shall include specific toxicity, residue potential, relative hazards of different formulations, application techniques, and hazards associated with age of animals, stress, and extent of treatment. print or PDF 6.50
1B Agricultural Plant Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides in the production of crops including blueberries, orchard fruit, potatoes, vegetables, forage, grain and industrial or non-food crops. Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge of the crops grown and the specific pests of those crops on which they may be using pesticides. Areas of such practical knowledge shall include soil and water problems, preharvest intervals, reentry intervals, phytotoxicity, potential for environmental contamination, non-target injury, and community problems related to pesticide use in certain areas. Also required shall be a knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans. print or PDF 12.00
1B Option I - Limited Commercial Blueberry Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides in the production of blueberries only. print only 8.00
1B Option II - Chemigation Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides applied through irrigation equipment in the production of crops. print only call
1B Option III – Agricultural Fumigation Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of fumigant pesticides in the production of crops. from WA print only 8.00
1B Option IV – Post-Harvest Treatment Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides in the post harvest treatment of food crops. print only call
2 Forest Pest Management Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides in forests, forest nurseries, Christmas trees, and forest seed producing areas. Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge of forest vegetation management, forest tree biology and associated pests. Such required knowledge shall include population dynamics of pest species, pesticide-organism interactions, integration of pesticide use with other pest control methods, environmental contamination, pesticide effects on non-target organisms, and use of specialized equipment. Also required shall be a knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans.
Former categories 2A-Forest General & 2B-Forest Vegetation Management combined
from WA print only 21.00
Supplement – Maine Forest Pest Management Supplemental material required for Category 2 print or PDF no charge
3A Outdoor Ornamentals Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides to control pests in the maintenance and production of outdoor ornamental trees, shrubs and flowers. Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge of pesticide problems associated with the production and maintenance of trees, shrubs and floral plantings. Such knowledge shall include potential phytotoxicity, undue pesticide persistence, and application methods, with particular reference to techniques used in proximity to human habitations. Also required shall be a knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans. from MI print only 20.00
3B Turf Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides to control pests in the maintenance and production of turf, such as at turf farms, golf courses, parks, cemeteries, athletic fields and lawns. Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge of pesticide problems associated with the production and maintenance of turf. Such knowledge shall include potential phytotoxicity, undue pesticide persistence, and application methods, with particular reference to techniques used in proximity to human habitations. Also required shall be a knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans. print or PDF 15.00
3C Indoor Ornamentals Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides to control pests in the maintenance and production of live plants in shopping malls, businesses, residences and institutions. Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge of pesticide problems associated with the production and maintenance of indoor ornamental plantings. Such knowledge shall include pest recognition, proper pesticide selection, undue pesticide persistence, and application methods with particular reference to techniques used in proximity to human presence. print only 8.00
4 Seed Treatment Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides on seeds. Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge of seed types and problems requiring chemical treatment. Such knowledge shall include seed coloring agents, carriers and binders which may affect germination, hazards associated with handling, sorting, and mixing in the treatment process, hazards of introduction of treated seed into food and feed channels, and proper disposal of unused treated seeds. from IA print only 10.00
5A Aquatic Pest Control Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides applied directly to surface water, including but not limited to outdoor application to public drinking water supplies, golf course ponds, rivers, streams and wetlands. Excluding applicators engaged in public health related activities included in categories 7E and 8 below. Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge of proper methods of aquatic pesticide application, application to limited area, and a recognition of the adverse effects which can be caused by improper techniques, dosage rates, and formulations. Such knowledge shall include basic factors contributing to the development of nuisance aquatic plant growth such as algal blooms, understanding of various water use situations and potential downstream effects from pesticide use, and potential effects of various aquatic pesticides on plants, fish, birds, insects and other organisms associated with the aquatic environment. Also required shall be an understanding of the Department of Environmental Protection laws and regulations pertaining to aquatic discharges and aquatic weed control and a knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans. from PA and EPA print only 6.00
5B Sewer Root Control Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides applied to sewers to control root growth in sewer pipes. Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge of proper methods of sewer root control pesticide application, application to pipes, and a recognition of the adverse effects which can be caused by improper techniques, dosage rates, and formulations. Such knowledge shall include potential effects on water treatment plants, movement of pesticides into off target pipes or buildings and the hazards of sewer gases. from NY print or PDF 6.00
6A Rights of Way Vegetation Management Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides in the management of vegetation on utility, roadside and railroad rights-of-way. Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge of the impact of right-of-way pesticide use on a wide variety of environments. Such knowledge shall include an ability to recognize target organisms and circumstances specific to the subcategory, awareness of problems of runoff, root pickup and aesthetic considerations associated with excessive foliage destruction and “brown-out”, and an understanding of the mode of action of right-of-way herbicides, and reasons for the choice of particular chemicals for particular problems, importance of the assessment of potential impact of right-of-way spraying on adjacent public and private properties and activities, and effects of right-of-way spraying on fish and wildlife species and their habitat. Also required shall be a knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans.
Includes former categories 6A-Utility ROW, 6B-Roadside ROW & 6C-Railroad ROW
print or PDF 10.00
6B Industrial/Commercial/Municipal Vegetation Management Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides in the management of vegetation on industrial, commercial, municipal or publicly owned areas including, but not limited to, industrial or commercial plants and buildings, lumber yards, airports, tank farms, storage areas, parking lots and sidewalks. Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge of the impact of right-of-way pesticide use on a wide variety of environments. Such knowledge shall include an ability to recognize target organisms and circumstances specific to the subcategory, awareness of problems of runoff, root pickup and aesthetic considerations associated with excessive foliage destruction and “brown-out”, and an understanding of the mode of action of right-of-way herbicides, and reasons for the choice of particular chemicals for particular problems, importance of the assessment of potential impact of right-of-way spraying on adjacent public and private properties and activities, and effects of right-of-way spraying on fish and wildlife species and their habitat. Also required shall be a knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans.
Formerly category 6D
print or PDF 10.00
7A Structural General Pest Control Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides in, on or around human dwellings, office buildings, institutions such as schools and hospitals, stores, restaurants, industrial establishments (other than in Category 6) including factories, warehouses, food processing plants, food or feed transportation facilities and other structures, vehicles, railroad cars, ships, aircraft and adjacent areas; and for the protection of stored, processed or manufactured products. This subcategory also includes commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides to control rodents on refuse areas and to control other pests, including but not limited to birds and mammals. Applicants must demonstrate a practical knowledge of a wide variety of pests and methods for their control. Such knowledge shall include identification of pests and knowledge of life cycles, formulations appropriate for various indoor and outdoor uses, methods to avoid contamination of food and feed, and damage to structures and furnishings, avoidance of risk to humans, domestic animals, and non-target organisms and risks to the environment associated with structural pesticide use.

Includes former category 7B-Food Processing

print or PDF 15.00
7C Disinfectant, Biocide Treatments, and Mold Remediation Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides to treat water in manufacturing, swimming pools, spas, industrial cooling towers, public drinking water treatment plants, sewers and air conditioning systems. Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge of water organisms and their life cycles, drinking water treatment plant, cooling water and pool or spa system designs, labels and hazards of disinfectants and biocides and proper application techniques to assure adequate control while minimizing exposure to humans and the environment. print or PDF 12.00
7D Wood Preserving Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of restricted use pesticides to treat lumber, poles, railroad ties and other types of wooden structures including bridges, shops and homes. It also includes commercial applicators applying general use pesticides for remedial treatment to utility poles.Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge in wood destroying organisms and their life cycles, non-chemical control methods, pesticides appropriate for wood preservation, hazards associated with their use, proper handling of the finished product, proper disposal of waste preservatives, and proper application techniques to assure adequate control while minimizing exposure to humans, livestock and the environment.
Option I
- Pressure Treatment
Option II
- Sapstain/Blue Stain Treatment
Option III
- Remedial Treatment – includes supplemental material from Oregon
Option IV -
General Wood Treatment
Options I – IV are being combined into a single wood preserving category.
print only 4.50 each
7E Biting Fly & Other Arthropod Vectors Commercial applicators and non-public health governmental officials using or supervising the use of pesticides in management and control of biting flies & other arthropod vectors of public health and public nuisance importance including, but not limited to, ticks, mosquitoes, black flies, midges, and members of the horsefly family. Applicants must demonstrate a practical knowledge of the species involved, their potential roles in disease transmission, and the use of pesticides in their control. Such knowledge shall include identification of and familiarity with life cycles and habitat requirements, special environmental hazards associated with the use of pesticides in control programs, and knowledge of the importance of integrating chemical and non-chemical control methods. Also required shall be a knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans. print or PDF 4.00
7F Termite Pests Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of pesticides to control termites. Applicants must demonstrate a practical knowledge of Termite pests and methods for their control. Such knowledge shall include identification of termites and knowledge of life cycles, formulations appropriate for various indoor and outdoor uses, methods to avoid contamination of food and feed, and damage to structures and furnishings, avoidance of risk to humans, domestic animals, and non-target organisms and risks to the environment associated with structural pesticide use.
Formerly Category 7G
print only 4.00
8A Public Health – Biting Fly and Other Arthropod Vector Pests Governmental officials using pesticides in management and control of potential disease vectors or other pests having medical and public health importance including, but not limited to, mosquitoes, black flies, midges, and members of the horsefly family. Applicants must demonstrate a practical knowledge of the species involved, their potential roles in disease transmission, and the use of pesticides in their control. Such knowledge shall include identification of and familiarity with life cycles and habitat requirements, special environmental hazards associated with the use of pesticides in control programs, and knowledge of the importance of integrating chemical and non-chemical control methods. Also required shall be a knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans.
For government officials only
print or PDF 10.00
8B Public Health – Other Governmental officials using pesticides in programs for controlling other pests of concern to public health including, but not limited to, ticks and birds and mammal vectors of human disease. Applicants must demonstrate a practical knowledge of the species involved, their potential roles in disease transmission, and the use of pesticides in their control. Such knowledge shall include identification of and familiarity with life cycles and habitat requirements, special environmental hazards associated with the use of pesticides in control programs, and knowledge of the importance of integrating chemical and non-chemical control methods. Also required shall be a knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans.
For government officials only
print or PDF 10.00
9 Regulatory Pest Control Governmental employees using pesticides in the control of pests regulated by the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service or some other governmental agency. Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge of regulated pests and applicable laws relating to quarantine and other regulations of pests. Such knowledge shall also include environmental impact of pesticide use in eradication and suppression programs, and factors influencing introduction, spread, and population dynamics of relevant pests. Also required shall be a knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans.
For government officials only
from IA print only 10.00
10 Demonstration & Research Pest Control All individuals who (1) demonstrate to the public the proper use and techniques of application of pesticides or supervise such demonstration, (2) conduct field research with pesticides, and in doing so, use or supervise the use of pesticides . Individuals who conduct only laboratory-type research are not included. Applicants seeking certification in this category must also become certified in whatever category/subcategory they plan to make applications under. Applicants must demonstrate practical knowledge in the broad spectrum of activities involved in advising other applicators and the public as to the safe and effective use of pesticides. Persons involved specifically in demonstration activities will be required to demonstrate knowledge of pesticide-organism interactions, the importance of integrating chemical and non-chemical control methods, and a grasp of the pests, life cycles and problems appropriate to the particular demonstration situation. Field researchers will be required to demonstrate general knowledge of pesticides and pesticide safety, as well as a familiarity with the specific standards of this Section which apply to their particular areas of experimentation. All individuals certified in this category must also be certified in one or more of the previous categories or subcategories which represent at least 80% of their practice. Also required shall be a knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans.
Requires another certification category
from NY print only 21.00
11 Aerial Pest Control Commercial applicators, including pilots and co-pilots, applying or supervising the application of pesticides by means of any aircraft. Applicants seeking certification in this category must also become certified in whatever category/subcategory they plan to make applications under. Applicants must demonstrate at least a practical knowledge of problems which are of special significance in aerial application of pesticides, including chemical dispersal equipment, tank, pump and plumbing arrangements; nozzle selection and location; ultra-low volume systems; aircraft calibration; field flight patterns; droplet size considerations; flagging methods; and loading procedures. Applicants must also demonstrate competency in the specific category or subcategory in which applications will be made, as described in paragraphs I, II, VI and VIII herein. Also required shall be a knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans.
Requires another certification category
from NY print only 27.00
Pesticide Dealer For all dealers who sell, distribute, or handle restricted or limited-use pesticides, and manufacturer’s representatives (salespersons) who sell or distribute restricted or limited-use pesticides to consumers. Applicants must demonstrate a knowledge of pesticide classifications, formulations, labeling, safety, storage and applicable laws and regulations. Also required shall be knowledge of current methodology and technology for the control of pesticide drift to non-target areas, the proper meteorological conditions for the application of pesticides, and the potential adverse effect of pesticides on plants, animals or humans. print or PDF 15.00

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More information:

James Dill
PSEP Program Coordinator
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Pest Management Office
491 College Ave.
Orono, ME 04473-1295
Phone: (207) 581-3880 or 1-800-287-0279 (in Maine)

Don Barry
PSEP Program Assistant
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Pest Management Office
491 College Ave.
Orono, ME 04473-1295
Phone: (207) 581-3880 or 1-800-287-0279 (in Maine)

For information on Certification & Licensing, Pesticide Laws & Regulations,
and the Worker Protection Standard, visit the Maine Board of Pesticides Control,
or contact:

Gary Fish
Manager of Pesticide Programs
Board of Pesticides Control
State House Station #28
Augusta, ME 04333-0028
(207) 287-2731

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Contact Information

UMaine Cooperative Extension: Insect Pests, Ticks and Plant Diseases
491 College Avenue
Orono, Maine 04473-1295
Phone: 207.581.3880, 800.287.0279 (in Maine) or 800.287.8957 (TDD)E-mail: extension@maine.edu
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
207.581.1110
A Member of the University of Maine System