Private Applicator Certification

A private applicator is an applicator who applies restricted-use pesticides by ground application for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity on property owned or rented by the applicator or the applicator’s employer. Most private applicators are farmers, greenhouse and/or nursery operators. All other applicators who use restricted use pesticides are considered commercial applicators.

Minimum age for all pesticide applicators is 18 years including those applying restricted-use pesticides. An exception is made for those of a minimum age of 16 years being supervised by a certified private applicator who is a member of their immediate family.


The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Pesticide Section has transitioned to a new database system that will make it easier for them with the Division of Consumer and Industry Services. Migrating data took longer than expected and they hope the process did not negatively affect customers. TDA appreciates you for working with them through this challenge. If you have any questions concerning your accrued points, please contact the Pesticides Section at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (phone 615-837-5148).

Herbicides and The Endangered Species Act (ESA): What You Need to Know

ESA Mitigation


Applicants for private applicator certification must successfully complete a specialized training course provided by University of Tennessee Extension on the proper use of restricted use pesticides.

To attend an in-person training session, please contact your county Extension office. See required fees below.

EPA’s new certification & training standards.


If you are needing a certificate for specific herbicides such as dicamba or paraquat. Visit one of the sites to find out more information. Dicamba or Paraquat

Spanish Language Materials (used by individuals to prepare them for the private applicator training exam) Note: In-person trainings are only offered in English.

North Carolina State University’s PSEP Chapters 1 and 2 may not pertain to Tennessee’s regulations. However, the remainder contains information found in the National Core manual.

National Applicator Core Training Manual for Private Applicators select ES3007KITP/E3007SP for the Spanish language version. A direct link may be found here.

Bilingual App to help keep farm workers safe

Basic information concerning pesticides in Spanish

Protect Yourself and Your Family from Pesticide Exposure:
The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) Agricultural Worker Booklet
(English and Spanish versions)

Spanish Translation Guide

Gap Connections video “The Label is the Law

An online course is available for individuals as an optional method to obtain private applicator certification. Fees are required as mentioned below. 

To learn more about the online certification training, visit our K@TE (Knowledge and Training Excellence) site.

There is a $50 fee for initial certification training, both in-person and online. Upon completion of in-person training, applicants must submit to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) a copy of the three-part form signed by the Extension agent verifying completion of the training course and a payment of $25 for a certification card. Individuals who attend online-training should follow directions provided by the online system to obtain their certification card.

Pesticide certification runs in a three-year cycle. The current certification cycle began on July 1, 2023 and will end on June 30, 2026. 

Private applicator recertification began January 1, 2023 and ended June 30, 2023. The recertification process during this timeframe must be completed to roll certification into the new certification cycle, which begins on July 1, 2023, and ends June 30, 2026. If you miss the recertification period, you may attend an initial certification event held by your county Extension office or review the initial private applicator training and you would be required to pass a test which is available on the K@TE online learning website. Initial Private Applicator Certification and Recertification training are both available at county Extension offices.

Private applicators are required to keep records of restricted-use pesticide applications and, if workers and/or handlers are employed, all application records must be maintained for two years. The following document may used to maintain Federal recordkeeping requirements: Pesticide Application Recordkeeping FormF 808 and SP 363-H. Employers of workers and/or pesticide handlers may want to refer to Worker Protection Standard checklist, found here: WPS Requirements for Employers of Workers. At one time, USDA had a printed version of a recordkeeping manual, but now is only available for download at USDA’s website. More information concerning EPA’s recordkeeping requirements may be found here. A new Private Applicator RecordKeeping Manual PB1917 may be found here or you may contact the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to obtain a printed copy. TDA may be contacted at 615-837-5148.

Many of the new fumigation labels require users to have specialized training.  Please visit the fumigation webpage​ for more information. A Licensee must be present at the time of all fumigation applications.

Beginning July 1, 2023, private applicators will be required to attend 3-hours of approved training to maintain their certification into the 2026-2029 certification cycle. If points/CEUs are not accrued, repeating the initial private applicator training and passing an exam would be required. County Extension Personnel will request points for meetings through the PSEP Office.

Please visit our page concerning aerial application which is listed under licensing..