Private Pesticide Applicator Training and Certification

  • General Information

  • Initial Certification

  • Recertification

  • FAQ's

  • Resources

General Information

"Certified private applicator" means a certified applicator who uses or supervises the use of any pesticide which is classified for restricted use on property owned or rented by the applicator or the applicator's employer or, if applied without compensation other than trading of personal services between producers of agricultural commodities, on the property of another person. Iowa Code, Chpt. 206.2

Pesticide Applicator Testing Dates

For Private Pesticide Appplicator Training dates, please contact your county office.

Training Period

Visual of Private Applicator Training Period

In order to qualify for recertification by training, private applicators must attend a private continuing instructional course (P-CIC) for each training period beginning the first fall/winter following initial certification. One exception to this would be for applicators certifying initially in October, November or December -- those applicators would begin training the fall/winter of the next calendar year after certification. The private applicator training period runs April 16 through April 15 of each year with P-CIC opportunities offered From December 1st through April 15th. Refer to the training dates printed to the left on the private pesticide applicator certification card for training periods required for renewal by CIC or contact the Pesticide Bureau at 515-281-8591 or by email. Missed training periods cannot be made up and the individual will need to retest in order to renew their certification.

Private Applicator Fumigation

Because restricted use pesticides used in fumigation pose special concerns for human safety, there is a CIC exception for private applicators who want to purchase and use restricted use fumigants. A private fumigator must be certified as a private applicator, but also must add a fumigation status to his or her certification to purchase and legally use fumigants. The applicator must pass an exam based on the commercial fumigation manual (category 7C) to gain the initial fumigation certification. Then, the applicator must either retest or attend the annual category 7C training that is provided for commercial applicators in each of the three years of certification. The additional 7C training can be obtained by attending the program on the pre-set statewide date or by viewing the DVD at the county office's convenience.

Initial Certification

Initial certification is done through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). To obtain initial certification, all private applicators must pass a closed-book certification exam over the Private Pesticide Applicator Study Guide PSEP 1 (available from the Extension Distribution Center ). If the exam is failed, it may be taken again. However, the exam may be taken only once each day. After passing the exam, applicators may choose between two options to renew their certification. Only producers applying restricted-use pesticides need to be certified.

Preparation for the Exam

Applicators interested in private certification should read and understand the Private Pesticide Applicator Study Guide (PSEP 1).

  • Local offices may offer training sessions, often referred to as “initial training” sessions for applicators wishing to prepare for the certification exam. Contact your local extension office to see if it is offered.

Exam Information

  • 50 Multiple choice questions
  • 35 correctly answered questions are necessary to pass (70%)

Examination Dates/Location Information

Private 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 Pesticide Applicator Testing Dates page of the Iowa Department and Land Stewardship website.

Certification Fees

The Private Certification fee, whether for initial certification or recertification is $15 for three years (payable to IDALS). For questions about examinations or fees, please contact the Pesticide Bureau at 515-281-8591.

Private pesticide applicators have two options:

Recertification by Exam

Exams for recertification are administered by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) at various locations throughout the year. Passing the exam and the submission of the appropriate fee to IDALS completes the recertification-by-exam process.

Pesticide Applicator Testing Dates


Recertification by Attending a Private Continuing Instructional Course (P-CIC)

Approved P-CICs are offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (ISUEO) during the recertification period. Applicators who miss a P-CIC in one or more recertification periods during their 3-year renewal cycle are required to renew their certification by exam. P-CICs cannot be “made-up” if applicators forget to attend a P-CIC during each recertification period of their renewal cycle, nor can excess attendance carry forward from one year to the next.

There is a $20 fee for attending the Private Pesticide Applicator Continuing Instructional Course.

For Private Pesticide Appplicator Training dates, please contact your county office.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the deadline for attending the P-CIC to become recertified without having to retest?

P-CICs are given from December 1 through April 15.

Does a commercial applicator have to take the private pesticide applicator exam to become certified as a private applicator?

A certified commercial applicator may also receive a private applicator certification upon written request to IDALS together with the $15 private applicator certification fee. A person who is certified as both a commercial applicator and a private applicator will need either to retest every three years or attend an approved commercial CIC each year for three years to fulfill their commercial applicator certification requirements. If the commercial applicator certification renewal requirements are met then they may request renewal of their private applicator certification based on their commercial certification. They will not have to attend a CIC for private applicators. Below is a link to the form that the applicator will need to fill out and submit to IDALS.

Application for Private Pesticide Applicator Certification based on Current Commercial Applicator Certification

Page last updated: March 21, 2019