Commercial Pesticide Applicator Training and Certification

  • General Information

  • Categories

  • Initial Certification

  • Recertification

  • FAQ's

"Certified commercial applicator" means a person, corporation, or employee of a person or corporation who enters into a contract or an agreement for the sake of monetary payment and agrees to perform a service by applying a pesticide but does not include a farmer trading work with another, a person employed by a farmer not solely as a pesticide applicator who applies pesticide as an incidental part of the person's general duties, or a person who applies pesticide as an incidental part of a custom farming operation. Iowa Code, Chpt. 206.2

Pesticide Applicator Testing Dates

Fall Commercial Pesticide Applicator Training Recertification Courses

(Registration forms will be available late summer)
Continuing Instruction CourseDateStart
Roadside, Forest, Aquatic Pest Management
Categories 2 (Forest Pest), 5 (Aquatic Pests), 6 (Right-of-way), & 10 (Research and Demonstration)
10/15/14 9 AM
Mosquito/Public Health Pest Management
Categories 7D (Community Insect Management), 8 (Public Health Pest), and 10 (Research and Demonstration)
10/23/14 9 AM
Ornamental and Turfgrass Applicators
Categories: 3O (Ornamental Pest), 3T (Turf Pest), 3OT (Ornamental and Turf Pest), and 10 (Research and Demonstration)
11/05/14 1:30 PM
Commercial Ag Weed, Insect, and Plant Disease Management
Categories: 1A (Agricultural Weed), 1B (Agricultural Insect), 1C (Agricultural Crop Disease), and 10 (Research and Demonstration)
11/12/14 9 AM
Fumigation
Categories 7C (Fumigation) and 10 (Research and Demonstration)
11/18/14 9 AM
Pest Control Operators
Categories 7A (General and Household Pest), 7B (Termite), 8 (Public Health Pest), and 10 (Research and Demonstration)
12/03/14 9 AM
Greenhouse and Ornamental
3G (Greenhouse Pest), 3O (Ornamental Pest), and 10 (Research and Demonstration)
Employers will be contacted
Aerial Applicator
Categories 11 (Aerial Application) and 10 (Research and Demonstration)
Program Available Late November

Commercial applicators are divided into categories. An applicator must be certified in each category he/she will be applying pesticides under.

Category 1A- Agricultural Weed Control

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides to control plant pests in the production of agricultural crops, including, but not limited to, feed and/or small grains, corn, soybeans, forage, grasslands, and pasture.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-9, Agricultural Weed Management

Category 1B - Agricultural Insect Control

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides to control insect pests in the production of agricultural crops, including, but not limited to, feed and/or small grains, corn, soybeans, forage, grasslands, and pasture.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-10, Agricultural Insect Control

Category 1C - Agricultural Crop Disease Control

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides to control plant diseases in the production of agricultural crops, including, but not limited to, feed and/or small grains, corn, soybeans, forage, grasslands, and pasture.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-11, Agricultural Crop Disease Management

Category 1D - Fruit and Vegetable Pest Control

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides to control plant, insect, or disease pests in the production of food for human consumption including, but not limited to, vegetables, small fruits, tree fruits, and nuts.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-12, Fruit and Vegetable Pest Control

Category 1E - Animal Pest Control

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides directly on animals, in the production of an agricultural commodity including, but not limited to, beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine, sheep, horses, goats, poultry, or any other livestock, or areas or places on or in which animals are confined. Veterinarians are included in Category 1E when applying restricted use pesticides; engaging in the business of applying general use or restricted use pesticides for hire amounting to a principle or regular occupation; or if publicly claiming to be a pesticide applicator.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-13, Animal Pest Control

Category 2 - Forest Pest Control

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides in forests, forest nurseries, and forest seed production areas.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-14, Forest Pest Control

Category 3G - Greenhouse Pest Control

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides to control pests in the maintenance and/or production of ornamental trees, shrubs, flowers, turf, and other ornamental plants in a greenhouse or other enclosed, climate-controlled environment.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-15, Ornamental, Turf, and Greenhouse Pest Management

Category 3O - Ornamental Pest Control

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides to control pests in the maintenance and production of ornamental trees, shrubs, flowers, and other ornamental plants, except turf, in areas other than a greenhouse or other enclosed, climate-controlled environment.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-15, Ornamental, Turf, and Greenhouse Pest Management

Category 3OT - Ornamental and Turf Pest Control

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides to control pests in the maintenance and production of ornamental trees, shrubs, flowers, and turf grass including in and around structures (except greenhouses), plant nurseries, golf courses, athletic fields, public or private grounds, turf farms, or similar areas.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-15, Ornamental, Turf, and Greenhouse Pest Management

Category 3T - Turf Pest Control

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides to control pests only in the maintenance and production of turf grasses including in and around structures (except greenhouses or other enclosed, climate-controlled environments), plant nurseries, golf courses, athletic fields, public or private grounds, turf farms, or similar areas.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-15, Ornamental, Turf, and Greenhouse Pest Management

Category 4 - Seed Treatment

Definition - Includes certified applicators applying pesticides to seed.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-16, Seed Treatment

Category 5 - Aquatic Pest Control

Definition - Includes certified applicators applying pesticides to standing or running water to control aquatic pests, excluding applicators engaged in public health related activities. Category 5 also includes certified applicators who apply restricted use pesticides for the control of tree roots and similar woody-type hindrances in sewer lines.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-17, Aquatic Pest Control

Category 6 - Right-of-Way

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides in the maintenance of public roads, electric power lines, pipelines, railroad rights-of-way, industrial site weed control, fence lines, structural perimeters, or other similar areas to control unwanted vegetation.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-18, Right-of-Way

Category 7A - General & Household Pest Management

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides, except fumigants, for general and household pest control in human dwellings including indoor areas normally frequented or inhabited by humans, such as, but not limited to: schools, hospitals, institutions, dining facilities, food dispensing and food handling establishments, food manufacturers and processors, industrial establishments, warehouses, and any other structures and adjacent areas, public or private. Category 7A also covers the protection of stored, processed, or manufactured products from insects and similar organisms, pest birds, or vertebrate pests.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-19, General and Household Pest Management

Category 7B - Termite Control

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides, except fumigants, to control wood- destroying insects, including, but not limited to, termites. Category 7B also includes persons who conduct wood-destroying insect inspections for the purpose of issuing a wood-destroying insect report for real estate transactions, real estate refinance transactions, or for the treatment for control or prevention of wood-destroying insect infestations.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-20, Termite Control

Category 7C - Fumigation

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides, in a gaseous form that are classified as fumigants, to control: stored commodity pests including, but not limited to, insects and similar organisms, pest birds, and vertebrate pests in, on, or around areas where grain, food, or feed is stored, processed, manufactured, or produced and within enclosed airtight spaces including, but not limited to: tents, vaults, stacks, storage structures, semi-truck trailers, railroad cars, vessels, storage structures, greenhouses, dwellings, and other containment or structures included in labeled approved sites for the use of gaseous fumigation products for the protection of stored, processed, or manufactured products. Category 7C also includes certified applicators applying gaseous pesticides to a building or other structure for the control of general household pests or wood-destroying insects and also requires certification in the applicable Category 7A or Category 7B, respectively.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-27, Fumigation

Category 7D - Community Insect Management

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides to control flies or mosquitoes in a community or public health program. Public applicators who apply pesticides to control pests in a public health program are required to be certified in Category 8.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-22, Community Insect Management

Category 7E - Wood Preservatives

Definition - Includes certified applicators using wood preserving pesticides to control or protect against wood-destroying organisms including insects, fungi, and marine borers, and including ground line pole treatment, waterproofing millwork, cutoffs, or supplemental field treatment; and making application by pressure or non-pressure dips or sprays, or by thermal or pressure treatment.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-28, Wood Preservatives

Category 7F - Antifouling Paints

Definition - Includes certified applicators using tributyltin (TBT) paints for the purpose of inhibiting the growth of aquatic plant and animal organisms, including but not limited to slime film, algae, barnacles, and tube worms, on submerged marine structures and on the hulls of boats and ships.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-29, Antifouling Paints

Category 8 - Public Health Pest Control

Definition - Includes certified applicators using pesticides in any designated public health program for the management and control of insects and similar organisms, rodents, and birds or any other designated pest, vertebrate or invertebrate, that may have medical and/or public health importance. Category 8 also includes certified applicators using or supervising the use of restricted use pesticides in swimming pools and related facilities; cooling water systems used to transfer or dissipate heat; and applicators using restricted use pesticides to disinfect or sterilize medical/veterinary equipment, food/beverage/drug processing equipment, and the environmental services of such places as hospitals/nursing homes, food processing areas, and similar environments.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-23, Public Health Pest Control

Category 10 - Demonstration and Research

Definition - Includes individuals who demonstrate to the public the proper use and techniques of application, or who research the use of pesticides and in doing so use or supervise the use of pesticides. Individuals certified in Category 10 also are required to be certified in another category that is specific to the particular type of pesticide being employed for the particular project.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-25, Demonstration and Research

Category 11 - Aerial Application

Definition - Includes certified applicators who use any aircraft to apply pesticides to control plants, insects, or similar organisms, or plant diseases in the production of agricultural commodities, and/or food for human consumption to include, but not limited to, vegetables, small fruits, tree fruits and nuts, feed, and/or small grains, corn, soybeans, forage, grasslands, and pasture. An aerial applicator, applying pesticides to agricultural land, can operate in Iowa only in cooperation with an “aerial applicator consultant.” An aerial applicator consultant coordinates the commercial application of pesticides by aerial applicators. The consultant must be a resident of Iowa; hold a certification in Category 11, Aerial Application; and either a valid commercial applicator license or pesticide dealer license. An applicator certified in Category 11 also may apply pesticides by non-aerial methods as described in Categories 1A, 1B and 1C. However, an individual certified in Category 1A, 1B, and/or 1C may not apply pesticides by aircraft until certified in Category 11. An applicator certified in Category 11 may not apply any pesticide for any use other than agricultural plant purposes until the additional certification category is added for the specific use beyond agricultural plant pest control.
Training manual - ISU publication CS-26, Aerial Application

Category H - Certified Handlers

Definition - Includes certified commercial handlers who handle any pesticide in other than unopened containers for the purposes of preparing, mixing, or loading pesticides for application by another person, repackaging bulk pesticides, or disposing of pesticide-related wastes from these activities. A certified handler is required to operate under the direct supervision of a licensed commercial applicator, noncommercial applicator, public applicator, or pesticide dealer and may not apply any restricted use pesticide nor commercially apply any other pesticide. A certified applicator need not be certified as a Handler.
Training manual - ISU publication IC 500, Certified Handler Manual

To obtain initial certification as a commercial pesticide applicator, a person must pass both the closed-book exam over the Iowa Core Manual IC 445, and an exam specific to the categories for which he or she needs to be certified to do the job. The commercial categories are listed on the categories tab. All manuals are available from the Extension Distribution Center.

Preparation for the Exam

Applicators interested in commercial certification should read and understand the material in both the Iowa Core Manual (IC 445) and the category manuals covering the categories for which they seek certification

Exam Information

Core:

50 Multiple choice questions

40 correctly answered questions are necessary to pass (80%)

Each Category Exam:

35 Multiple choice questions

28 correctly answered questions are necessary to pass (80%)

Handlers Exam (the only exam required for handlers certification):

50 Multiple choice questions

40 correctly answered questions are necessary to pass (80%)

Examination Dates/Location Information

Commercial pesticide applicator certification exams are available at the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) campus in Ankeny and other locations throughout Iowa. More information on dates and locations can be found on the Pesticide Applicator Testing Dates page of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) Website.

Commercial Certification Fees (for 3 years certification, payable to IDALS):

$75 for COMMERCIAL Applicators

$15 for PUBLIC Applicators

Fees for recertification by exam are the same as the initial certification fee. For any questions about examinations or fees, please contact the Pesticide Bureau, IDALS, at 515-281-8591.

Commercial pesticide applicators have two options:

1. Recertification by Exam

Recertify by passing exams, [covering the Iowa Core manual and appropriate category manual(s)] every 3 years

Exams for commercial recertification are available at the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) campus in Ankeny and other locations throughout Iowa. If an application fails an exam the exam may be retaken, but only once per day. Successful passing of the exams and the submission of the appropriate fee to IDALS completes the recertification-by-exam process.

Pesticide Applicator Testing Dates

OR

2. Recertify by Attending a Commercial Continuing Instructional Course (C-CIC)

An applicator can recertify by attending an approved C-CIC that covers each of the categories for which the applicator wishes to maintain certification. For commercial applicators, C-CICs are offered on a calendar-year basis.

C-CICs are presented in the following formats: live programs and prerecorded DVDs. The following programs are available as statewide video programs with fixed presentation dates: Commercial Agricultural Weed, Insect and Plant Disease; Ornamental & Turf Applicators; Roadside, Forest and Aquatic Pest Management; Fumigation; Seed Treatment; Certified Handlers; Mosquito and Public Health Pest Management; and Pest Control Operators.

Applicators needing Aerial Applicator certification and those needing Greenhouse and Ornamental Applicator certification need to contact their local extension office to arrange a time to watch these C-CIC programs. Also, please note recertification by C-CIC is not offered by Iowa State University Extension in Categories 1D (Fruit and Vegetable); 1E (Animal Pest Control) and 7E (Wood Preservatives). Recertification in these categories is TEST ONLY.

If C-CICs are missed in one or more years of their three-year cycle, the applicator is required to take the certification exam(s) to renew his or her certification. C-CICs cannot be “made up” if an applicator forgets to attend in a given year, nor can an applicator attend two C-CICs in one year to cover future years’ requirements.

Multiple Category Commercial Pesticide Recertification

Applicators who are certified in more than one category may recertify by examination for some categories and by attending a C-CIC for others. Applicators who choose to maintain their certification by attending an IDALS approved C-CIC must attend a program during each year their certification card covers, including the year they passed the exam (if certification occurs prior to October 1).

Fees for Attending a Commercial Pesticide Applicator Continuing Instructional Course (C-CIC)

There is a $35 fee for attending a C-CIC for all categories except Pest Control Operators. The fee for the Pest Control Operators C-CIC is $60. If you register less than seven days before the C-CIC scheduled date there could be a $10 late registration fee, please check with your local extension office for their policy.

Annual Cycle

The annual cycle (or one complete training period) for commercial certification is the same as the calendar year, January 1 through December 31. C-CICs are offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (ISUEO) and are coordinated through the PME office. Most ISUEO C-CICs are offered once each year (usually in the spring or fall), although some are offered twice in one year.

Commercial Applicator Notification

Two postcards, one listing spring programs and the other fall programs, are sent to all applicators at their employers' address twice a year. If you have not received notification, you must contact IDALS and update your address in writing. Commercial applicators may not use their home address.

Frequently Asked Questions

What manual(s) do I need to prepare for the commercial certification exam?

The Iowa Core Manual (IC 445) and at least one category manual for which you wish to become certified (see Commercial Applicator Training and Certifications--Categories tab for list)

To become a certified commercial applicator you must pass the core exam and at least one exam from one of the other applicator categories (with the exception of Handlers*). To order manuals, contact the Extension Distribution Center.

*To become a certified handler you must pass the Handler’s exam. The Handler’s exam contains questions on material in the Iowa Certified Handler Manual (IC500).

I need to take the test to become a certified commercial pesticide applicator. Where do I go to do this and when?

Commercial pesticide applicator certification exams are available at the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) campus in Ankeny and other locations throughout Iowa. More information on dates and locations can be found on the Pesticide Applicator Testing Dates page of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) Website.

I have a schedule conflict for the continuing instructional course for commercial applicators (C-CIC) to be held this spring. Can I reschedule for some other day?

Possibly. Some C-CICs are held twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. If you cannot attend on the spring date, try again in the fall. If you are unable to attend again in the fall (or if the C-CIC is only shown once a year), contact your local extension office to arrange to see a reshow of the C-CIC. APPLICATORS MUST VIEW RESHOWS OF MISSED C-CICs DURING THE SAME YEAR AS THE C-CIC MISSED, OR RETESTING WILL BE THE ONLY OPTION FOR RECERTIFICATION.

NOTE: LOCAL OFFICES ARE NOT REQUIRED TO RESHOW PROGRAMS.

When are programs available in my county? When and where can I get a copy of the registration form for this C-CIC?

Dates, locations and registration forms of C-CIC programs are available at your local Extension office. Postcards are sent to all certified applicators at their employers'address each spring and fall listing commercial recertification programs. Registration forms also are posted on the PME Website (see Commercial Applicator Training and Certifications--General Information tab for a list of programs and links to registration forms). Most of these programs are presented via a pre-recorded DVD at the participating extension offices. If you did not receive a postcard for the season’s upcoming C-CICs, contact your local county Extension office for information.

I recently obtained my turfgrass applicator (3T) certification but I have not received any information regarding upcoming C-CICs. What is the reason for this?

1) It is possible that you received this certification after the mailing list was sent to Iowa State University and, therefore, will not receive a postcard. You should be included in the next mailing.
2) If you did not receive a postcard, you should check that your employer is distributing C-CIC notification materials to applicator employees. If the employer is not receiving materials for you, you should contact IDALS to see if the mailing information the state has for you is current. Address information needs to be changed if an applicator has changed employers. Address change requests must be made in writing and either mailed or faxed to the Pesticide Bureau at IDALS.

Page last updated: September 8, 2014