Pest Control Workers

Career, Salary and Education Information

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What Pest Control Workers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Pest control workers remove unwanted creatures, such as roaches, rats, ants, bedbugs, and termites that infest buildings and surrounding areas.

Duties of Pest Control Workers

Pest control workers typically do the following:

  • Inspect buildings and premises for signs of pests or infestation
  • Determine the type of treatment needed to eliminate pests
  • Measure the dimensions of the area needing treatment
  • Estimate the cost of their services
  • Use baits and set traps to remove or kill pests
  • Apply pesticides in and around buildings and other structures
  • Design and carry out pest management plans
  • Drive trucks equipped with power spraying equipment
  • Create barriers to prevent pests from entering a building

Unwanted pests that infest buildings and surrounding areas can pose serious risks to the health and safety of occupants. Pest control workers control, manage, and remove these creatures from homes, apartments, offices, and other structures to protect people and to maintain the structural integrity of buildings.

To design and carry out integrated pest management plans, pest control workers must know the identity and biology of a wide range of pests. They must also know the best ways to control and remove the pests.

Although roaches, rats, ants, bedbugs, and termites are the most common pests, some pest control workers also remove irritant birds and other wildlife.

Pest control workers’ position titles and job duties often vary by state.

The following are examples of types of pest control workers:

Pest control technicians identify potential and actual pest problems, conduct inspections, and design control strategies. They work directly with customers and, as entry-level workers, use only a limited range of pesticides.

Applicators use a wide range of pesticides and may specialize in a particular area of pest control:

  • Termite control technicians use chemicals and modify structures to eliminate termites and prevent future infestations. Some also repair structural damage caused by termites and build barriers to separate pests from their food source.

  • Fumigators use gases, called fumigants, to treat specific kinds of pests or large-scale infestations. Fumigators seal infested buildings before using hoses to fill the structure with fumigants. Warning signs are posted to keep people from going into fumigated buildings, and fumigators monitor buildings closely to detect and stop leaks.

Work Environment for Pest Control Workers[About this section] [To Top]

Pest control workers held about 74,100 jobs in 2014. About 88 percent worked in the services to buildings and dwellings industry.

Pest control workers must travel to clients’ sites. They work both indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather. To inspect and treat sites, workers must often kneel, bend, and crawl in tight spaces.

When working with pesticides, pest control workers must wear protective gear, including gloves, goggles, and when required, respirators.

Pest Control Worker Work Schedules

Most pest control workers are employed full time. Working evenings and weekends is common. About 1 in 4 pest control workers worked more than 40 hours per week in 2014.

Injuries and Illnesses

Pest control chemicals are toxic and can be harmful to humans, so care should be taken to use such chemicals properly. Workers are trained and licensed for pesticide usage and wear protective equipment. However, some injuries and illnesses from pesticide exposure may still occur. Pest control workers are also susceptible to strains and sprains because workers must often kneel, bend, and crawl in tight spaces.

How to Become a Pest Control Worker[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Pest Control Workers near you!

State laws require pest control workers to be licensed. Most workers need a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training, usually lasting less than 3 months.

Many pest control companies require that employees have good driving records.

Pest Control Worker Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically the minimum qualification for most pest control jobs.

Pest Control Worker Training

Most pest control workers begin as technicians, receiving both formal technical instruction and moderate-term on-the-job training from employers. They often study specialties such as rodent control, termite control, and fumigation. Technicians also must complete general training in pesticide use and safety. Pest control training can usually be completed in less than 3 months.

After completing the required training, workers are qualified to provide pest control services. Because pest control methods change, workers often attend continuing education classes.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Pest control workers must be licensed. Licensure requirements vary by state, but workers usually must complete training and pass an exam. Some states have additional requirements, such as having a high school diploma or equivalent, completing an apprenticeship, and passing a background check. States may have additional requirements for applicators.

Advancement for Pest Control Workers

Pest control workers typically advance as they gain experience. Applicators with several years of experience often become supervisors. Some experienced workers start their own pest management company.

Important Qualities for Pest Control Workers

Bookkeeping skills. Pest control workers must keep accurate records of the hours they work, chemicals they use, and payments they collect. Self-employed workers, in particular, need these skills in order to run their business.

Customer-service skills. Pest control workers should be friendly and polite when they interact with customers at their homes or businesses.

Detail oriented. Because pest control workers apply pesticides, they need to be able to follow instructions carefully in order to prevent harm to residents, pets, the environment, and themselves.

Physical stamina. Pest control workers may spend hours on their feet, often crouching, kneeling, and crawling. They also must be able to withstand uncomfortable conditions, such as heat when they climb into attics in the summertime and cold when they enter crawl spaces during winter.

Pest Control Worker Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for pest control workers was $30,660 in May 2014. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,100, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $48,600.

Most pest control workers are employed full time. Working evenings and weekends is common. About 1 in 4 pest control workers worked more than 40 hours per week in 2014.

Job Outlook for Pest Control Workers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of pest control workers is projected to show little or no change from 2014 to 2024.

Some people may choose to control pests themselves rather than pay for professional pest control services. However, the growing number of invasive species, such as stink bugs, may to increase demand for pest control services.

Pest Control Workers Job Prospects

Job opportunities are expected to be good. The limited number of people seeking work in pest control and the need to replace workers who leave this occupation should result in many job openings.

Employment projections data for Pest Control Workers, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Pest control workers 74,100 73,200 -1 -900


*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

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