In general, a commercial applicator is an individual who applies products for a fee and works under the supervision of a licensed pest control operator. Examples include individuals who work for companies such as Cooks, Orkin, Terminix, TruGreen, Scotts, etc. The term commercial applicator also includes individuals who conduct research and/or demonstrations, aerial applications or other related pest control activities not included as a private applicator but use restricted-use pesticide products.
To be certified as a commercial applicator, each person must pass a core/category exam. Below provides information about the categories available, pre-exam training, certification exams, study materials, continuing education units (points) and more.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is extending some deadlines for pesticide applicators.
Private pesticide applicator certifications that were due to expire June 30 will be extended for 90 days, remaining valid until Oct. 2, 2023.
For commercial pesticide applicators certified in service categories C01-C14, and C16, the deadline for completing continuing education credits (CEUs) for the three year period that ran from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023, has also been extended for 90 days. Commercial applicator CEUs for this time period must now be completed by Oct. 2, 2023.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is transitioning to a new database that will make it easier for their customers to interact with the Division of Consumer and Industry Services. Migrating data is taking longer than expected and they don’t want that process to negatively affect customers. They have reached out to retailers and wholesalers to let them know of these extensions.
TDA appreciates you for working with them through this challenge. If you have any questions, please contact the Pesticides Section at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (phone 615-837-5148).
Currently, there are 16 Commercial Certification Categories in Tennessee and are listed below. They include:
- C01 – Agricultural
- C02 – Forest Pest Control
- C03 – Ornamental and Turf (includes landscape)
- C04 – Seed Treatment
- C05 – Aquatic Pest Control
- C06 – Right-of-Way (powerlines, railways, roadways, ditch banks, etc.)
- C07 – Industrial, Institutional, Structural, and Health Related Pest Control
- C08 – Public Health (mosquito control in public areas)
- C09 – Limited Herbicide Applicator (as of 12/2021, previously LHA)
- C10 – Demonstration, Research, and Regulatory Pest Control (researchers and regulators)
- C11 – Wood Preservatives
- C12 – Pesticide Dealer (required to obtain a Restricted Use Pesticide Dealer License)
- C13 – Antifouling Marine Paint
- C14 – Microbial Pest Control
- C15 – reserved
- C16 – Sewer Line Treatment
Limited Herbicide Applicator (LHA, now C09 as of 12/21)
This certification category was created for individuals who apply glyphosate as the sole active ingredient in conjunction with landscape maintenance work. Prior to taking the LHA or category 9 certification exam, you must provide documentation of insurance to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Other regulations are required, see LHA / C09 Certification for more information. To prepare for the LHA exam, obtain copies of PB1109 and EPP792.
To apply dicamba products on dicamba resistant crops, you must attend an approved dicamba training (required annually) and be certified as a pesticide applicator.
To apply products containing paraquat, you must attend an approved paraquat safety training and have valid pesticide certification. The training is valid for three years.
Many of the new fumigation labels require users to have specialized training. Please visit the following page for more information concerning fumigation. Visit the Fumigation webpage to learn more.
Aerial applicators should obtain certification in the area of application they intend to apply products. Category 01 for agriculture applications, category 02 for forestry applications, category 06 for right-of-way. Also, see licensing “Additional Requirements.”
What do I need to do to start a business?
- Take and pass a certification exam
- Have the requirements to take the licensing exam
- Take and pass the licensing exam
- Obtain a surety bond and insurance
- Purchase a Charter from TDA
Training is offered in Knoxville, TN and other locations usually the first Wednesday of each month. Training helps prepare individuals for the exam. General information is covered for all categories, however specific information is reviewed for categories 3, 6, 7 and 9 or LHA.
Only the CORE (General Standards), Category 03 (Ornamental and Turf Pest Control), Category 07 (Household and Structural Pests), Category 02 (Forestry), Category 09/LHA (Limited Herbicide Applicator) and Category 6 (Right-of-Way) are offered on the first Wednesday of each month. Other category training may be arranged by contacting the PSEP Office or Darrell Hensley at (865) 974-1286.
- Training Registration Fees
- $50 for Core training
- $20 for Category 7 (Household and Structural Pests)
- $20 for Category 3 (Ornamental and Turf Pest Control)
- $70 for Core plus one category
- $50 + $5 parking fee for Category 6 or Category 9/LHA
- Training Locations for Certification
- Training Locations for Licensing
- Testing or taking the exam following training? If so, scroll down to examination.
- A map of UT’s campus: https://maps.utk.edu/?id=314#!ct/27641
Due to limited seating at some locations, it is recommended to preregister at least one week in advance.
Preregister by mail, online or fax
- Select a method of registration
- To mail in registration, complete the Commercial Applicator Training Registration form (F 817), 2023 Form
- Pay registration fee by check or money order payable to The University of Tennessee
- Mail completed form along with registration fee to address on form
- Online (Discover, MasterCard, Visa)
One may register on-site in Knoxville only, however if not enough people preregister at an outlying site (ETSU, UT Chatt., UT Nashville or UT Jackson), the site training may be cancelled. Individuals who have preregistered will be notified in the event of cancellation.
Cancellation of Training at Outlying Site
If a site is cancelled, an individual may travel to another location or their registration fee will be refunded. Therefore, it is important to preregister.
Note: This “training fee” is NOT the same fee as the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) exam fee (mailed to TDA Nashville). You must pay both fees separately in order to be pre-paid for both the UT training AND the TDA exam.
NO REFUNDS will be given to those who do not show up for the ITV certification or recertification training. In the event you are not able to make it to the training session, please call our office prior to the start of the event and we will gladly provide a refund.
If you plan to take a certification exam immediately following the training, you will need to register with TDA and use the special event exam application.
Special Event Training Registration Form
For Special Training Events please complete the attached form. This form is only for registration for special events. Do not send this form unless instructed to do so.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) has contracted with EverBlue to provide certification testing online for all pesticide certification categories. This new arrangement offers completely remote testing from your location. Registration for testing is still $25 per certification category and once someone has registered for a test, they have 30 days to access it. Select the box below “Register For Exam” to register to take a certification exam. If you have any issues with the site contact “Everblue” at 1-888-502-8151 or email “firstname.lastname@example.org”
You can also find the registration link by searching TDA’s website and using the keyword “Pesticide Forms” and then click “Application to Take the Certification Exam”
NOTE: when selecting the certification category at the EverBlue site, the test ”ID” does not match up with the certification category.
Once you pay for the test, an email is sent with a receipt of payment and another email that includes the EverBlue login credentials, which are needed to test.
Here are some requirements to use the remote testing:
- An actual computer or laptop are required to take the exams, cell phones and tablets are not allowed.
- A working webcam and microphone are required on your laptop/computer.
- You must use Google Chrome and download and install the Proctorio Extension – more instructions on how to do this are provided on the Everblue website!
- Government issued photo ID must be shown on your webcam prior to taking the exam.
- You must be alone during the exam. A room scan is required before the exam to get a full view of the room. If the Proctorio Extension hears noises, it may ask for a room scan during the exam!
Once registered and logged in, you will be able to see more detailed instructions. A 10 minute instructional video is required to be watched before the exam begins. The video also goes over important instructions and shows exactly what the exam will look like.
If you are attending a special event training session provided by the University of Tennessee and have notified the PSEP Office you plan to take the exam after training, please complete the Commercial Certification “Special Event” Exam Application.
More information in a downloadable PDF file from TDA found here: Candidate Bulletin
The certification materials are designed to walk applicants through the exam, whereas the license materials are designed to supplement your experience and education. Order forms are available from the University or TDA. Spanish language versions of the core manual may be ordered through NPSEC. For the Spanish language version request item E3008SPKITC.
All category exams include core concepts and information. Information from Publication PB 1109 would be covered in all category exams. Order PB 1109, National Pesticide Applicator Certification “Core” Manual.
Category 1, Agricultural Pest Control—If you apply restricted-use pesticides in the control of plants, whether woody or herbaceous, to planted and/or cultivated crops or to land otherwise used in agricultural production, you need to be commercially certified in this category. Order PB 1738 Agricultural Grounds.
Category 2, Forest Pest Control—If you use or supervise the use of restricted-use pesticides for the control pests in the maintenance and production of ornamental trees, shrubs, flowers and turf, you need to be commercially certified in this category. Order PB 1708 Forest Pest Control.
Category 3, Ornamental and Turf—To become a commercial applicator to use or supervise the use of restricted-use pesticides for pest in the maintenance and production of ornamental trees, shrubs, flowers, and turf, you need to be commercially certified in this category. Order PB 1652 Ornamental and Turf Pest Control.
Category 4, Seed Treatment—This category includes commercial applicators using or supervising the use of restricted-use pesticides on seeds. Order PB 1713 Seed Treatment.
Category 6, Right-of-Way—If you apply restricted-use pesticides for the control of pest on public roads, electric power lines, pipelines, or railway rights-of-way, you need to be commercially certified in this category. Order PB 1705 Aquatic Pest Control.
Category 7, Industrial, Institutional, Structural, and Health Related—To apply restricted-use pesticides for the control of pests in, on, or around food handling establishments; human dwellings; institutions, such as schools and hospitals; industrial establishments (including warehouses and grain elevators); or any other structures and adjacent area (public or private) for the protection of stored, processed, or manufactured products, and for mosquito control except for public land and public waters, you need to be commercially certified in this category. Order PB 1732 Industrial, Institutional, Structural and Health Related Pest Control.
Category 8. Public Health—To apply restricted-use pesticides for the control of pests that are of public medical and public health importance, including mosquitoes on public land and public waters, you need to be certified in this category. Order PB 1733 Public Health Control.
Category 9, Limited Herbicide Applicator (LHA) – This category was created for individuals who apply glyphosate as the sole active ingredient in conjunction with landscape maintenance work. Individuals may need PB 1109 and EPP 792 to prepare them for the exam.
Category 10, Demonstration, Research, and Regulatory Pest Control—This category includes state, federal, or other governmental employees who use or supervise the use of restricted use pesticides in the control of regulated pests. This category also includes: (1) individuals who demonstrate to the public the proper use and techniques of application of restricted-use pesticides or supervise such demonstrations and (2) persons conducting field research with pesticides and in doing so, use or supervise the use of restricted-use pesticides.
Included in the first group are persons as Extension specialists and Extension agents, commercial representatives demonstrating pesticide products, and those individuals demonstrating methods used in public programs.
The second group includes state, federal, commercial, and other persons conducting field research on or utilizing restricted-use pesticides. Order PB 1714 Demonstration, Research and Regulatory Pest Control.
Category 11, Wood Preservatives—This category includes commercial applicators applying restricted- use wood preservatives. Order PB 1715 Wood Preservatives.
Category 12, Pesticide Dealers—This category includes people engaged in wholesale or retail sales of restricted-use pesticides. Each dealer location selling restricted-use pesticides must have a certified dealer at that location. Order PB 1716 Pesticide Dealer.
Category 13, Anti-Fouling Marine Paint—This category includes commercial applicators using or supervising the use of restricted-use antifouling marine paints. Order PB 1717 Anti-Fouling Marine Paint.
Category 14, Microbial—Commercial applicators using or supervising the use of antimicrobial agents to control microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, algae, and viruses) in cooling towers and swimming pools. Order PB 1718 Microbial.
Category 15, Reserved—
Category 16, Sewer Line Treatment—This category includes commercial applicators who use restricted- use pesticides for sewer line root control, such as metam-sodium. Order PB 1680 Sewer Line Treatment.
Certification runs in a three-year cycle. The current commercial applicator cycle began on July 1, 2023 and will end on June 30, 2026.
Reminder: points must be obtained within two of the three year cycle or if one becomes certified in the final year of the cycle, they must obtain points/CEU’s from two or more different meetings. Meeting requirements for points
One must make at least 70% or greater on the certification exam to obtain a certification card. If your current card has expired and you have fulfilled the CEU/points requirement, contact TDA’s office 615-837-5148 to obtain a new card.
Certified Commercial Applicators must accumulate a certain number of points annually over a period of three years to become recertified or pass a written examination.
Points may be earned by attending the Pesticide Safety Education Programs, offered at the County Extension offices or other meetings assigned CEU’s by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA). TDA accepts requests for points via mail or fax, see EPP82 an “Application for Points.” For a roster sheet to record attendance see EPP 81.
Once a certified applicator has accrued the required number of points, the applicator should contact TDA’s office at 615-837-5148 and request a new certification card to be issued.
To maintain commercial certification, continuing education credits, commonly known as “points,” must be earned by attending approved training sessions during the certification period. The number of points required for recertification varies by category and the date certification is earned. CEU’s Required to Maintain Certification provides more information.
Sessions can include in-house meetings, trade association events, Extension Service meetings and other events. The sessions may be external and up to 50% internal meetings including on-line programs, CDs and DVDs. One may also earn four points per year by attending the annual UT Recertification Program offered annually in Knoxville and shown in other parts of the state. Six points in Category 03 & Category 07 (including the CORE) and four points in all other categories may be earned annually by attending one of the Initial Commercial Applicator certification training programs offered each month.
Points may be earned by attending the Pesticide Safety Education Programs offered at various County Extension offices or offered by industries.
Contact TDA at (615) 837-5148 for more information. To find out more concerning your current points / CEUs, visit TDA’s website, Points Standing.
Occasionally, we will post information concerning upcoming events or meetings where continuing education points (CEUs, also known as points) can be earned. Keep your eyes open on this site.
Several associations or organizations hold annual meetings which are also assigned points and these may be posted on our site or the organization’s website. The University commonly holds field day events and some may be assigned recertification points for attendance.
If you need assistance to prepare for the category 7 certification exam, TDA has developed a termiticide calculation sheet that may be of help.
More information concerning points may be found here.
Request for Points
For individuals providing meetings and would like to provide points/CEU’s just complete an application requesting points and add an agenda.
You will also need to send the Tennessee Department of Agriculture a completed roster of attendees within 30-days of the event.
Online CEU Training
Online courses are available that can help meet the requirements for CEUs.
To learn more about the available online courses, visit our K@TE (Knowledge and Training Excellence) site.
After you have completed requirements for points, complete and return the Application for Duplicate or Replacement Commercial Pesticide Applicator Certification Card form to receive a new certification card.
Complete and return the Application for Duplicate or Replacement Commercial Pesticide Applicator Certification Card form
Tennessee reciprocates in honoring current commercial certification by other states with whom it has an agreement. A reciprocity form is found here: Reciprocity Form. Tennessee does not reciprocate in regard to licenses. Form EPP 671 lists of reciprocity with other states.
- Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries
- Arkansas Agriculture Department
- Kentucky Department of Agriculture
- Mississippi Department of Agriculture & Commerce
- North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
- Georgia Department of Agriculture
- Virginia Pesticide Safety
- South Carolina Department of Pesticide Regulation
- State: Contact Rusty Boles at Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency at 615-934-7505.
- Federal: Before destroying federally protected species, a permit is required. See US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requires all pesticide applicators to keep and maintain records of applications of federally restricted-use pesticides (RUP) for a period of 2 years. This recordkeeping requirement is also required for commercial applicators.
Tennessee’s regulation 0080-6-16-.05, titled “Records” states: All commercial applicators and commercial pest control operators shall keep true and accurate records and retain such for a period of two (2) years and make these available on demand to the Commissioner of Agriculture or his designee. Learn more in our Pesticide Recordkeeping Requirements for Commercial and Licensed Applicators and Dealers publication as well as the Commercial Applicator Recordkeeping form (F805). Federal requirements for commercial applicators may be found here. More information concerning USDA’s recordkeeping requirements for Private Applicators may be found here.
There are several commercially available products which can aid individuals in maintaining pesticide application information. Using software such as MS-Excel or other software packages are great resources to help maintain application records.
OSHA’s free heat safety phone application provides the calculated heat index and risk level of a worksite, which can help with scheduling decisions.
National Poison Control Center, 1-800-222-1222 (poisoning)
National Pesticide Information Center, 1-800-858-7378
Tennessee Emergency Management Agency TEMA, (615) 741-0001 (clean up, spills)
Tennessee Department of Agriculture, 615-837-5148 (disposal)
- Tennessee and Texas Cow-Calf Producers’ Perception of Livestock Pests
- PRN 96-7: Termiticide Labeling
- Using Backpack Mist Blowers to Control Adult Mosquitoes
- Caring for Indoor Plants
- 2023 Insect Control Recommendations for Field Crops