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Pesticide Licensing (Certification, Exams, Workshops)

Requirements to Use Restricted Use and General Use Pesticides in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Department of Agriculture (MDAR) requires growers of greenhouse crops who apply restricted use pesticides have a valid private certification issued by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). In accordance with the Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act and the current pesticide regulations, MDAR conducts written examinations to measure competency to use, sell, and apply pesticides in Massachusetts. All exams are closed book and applicants must be at least 18 years of age as of the date of the examination.

Growers of greenhouse crops are not required to be certified if they apply "general use" and/or OMRI approved pesticides. However, that individual would need to be trained as a pesticide handler to comply with the EPA Worker Protection Standard (WPS). Pesticide handlers either must have a private pesticide certification, or be trained as a handler. The person who conducts handler training must: currently be a certified applicator of restricted-use pesticides (in any category of certification), or currently be designated as an EPA WPS trainer of pesticide handlers by having completed an EPA WPS pesticide safety train-the-trainer program. Handlers must be trained at least once every 5 years, counting from the end of the month in which the previous training was completed.
Reference: US EPA How to Comply with the WPS Manual

How to obtain a MA pesticide license or certification:
Pesticide License Information  Details on MDAR website 

Call the Bureau on the day before the exam to confirm your seat. Snow Dates are scheduled only if the Pesticide Bureau reschedules an exam due to inclement weather. Additional information may be obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Pesticide Bureau; (617) 626-1720 or The UMass Extension Pesticide Education Program; (413) 545-1044.

Dates and locations for exams

Frequently Asked Questions

Originall published June 2010 - updated Oct. 2013
By Taryn LaScola, Pesticide Division, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources

Each year, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) receives numerous questions on the pesticide licensing requirements. It is important to remember that the licensing requirements for Agriculture are different from the requirements for the commercial industry such as Structural Pest Control and/or Landscapers. Below are some commonly asked questions about the Agriculture license requirements.

When do I need to get a MassachusettsPesticide License?
A Massachusetts Pesticide License is required in Agriculture when an individual is going to use a Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP). If an individual is using a General Use Pesticide, then he/she does not need to have a pesticide license. However, that individual would need to be trained as a handler to comply with the Worker Protection Standard.

What kind of license is needed?
The individual making the Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP) spplication would need to obtain a Private Certification License. There are several categories associated with this type of license and the individual would need to pick the appropriate category depending on the type of Agriculture facility. For example an individual who is applying an RUP in a greenhouse would get a Private Certification License with a Category in Greenhouse (#26).

If I have a Private Certification license can I supervise someone without a license to make a Restricted Use Pesticide application?
No. In order to supervise an RUP application, the individual making the application would need to have the Commercial Applicators License (commonly referred as the Core license). An application of an RUP cannot be done by someone without a license (supervised or not).

How many credits do I need in order to maintain my license?
To maintain a Private Certification license, the license holder needs to obtain 12 Continuing Education Units (CEU) during their three year cycle. It is also important to remember that an individual needs 12 credits for each category. For example, if an individual has a Private Certification license with two categories (greenhouse and tree fruit) he/she would need 24 credits in total.

How do I know when my three year cycle resets?
When you receive your new license each year, your cycle is listed on the card the license come in.

Do I need to send in my CEU's when I receive them?
No. Hold onto your CEU's and only send them into the Department if you receive an audit letter asking for them.

Pesticide Applicator Recertification Training Workshops

Optional 2-day workshops by the UMass Extension Pesticide Education program are designed to help individuals prepare for the pesticide applicator license exam. Preregistration is required. For a complete list of Pesticide Education Program Workshops, contact Natalia Clifton, UMass Extension at 413-545-1044 or check the Pesticide Education Website.

Worker Protection Standard

Worker Protection Standard (WPS) regulations are designed to reduce poisoning and injuries among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. They regulate pesticide use and require that workers and pesticide handlers be given appropriate training, equipment and information. Growers are required to provide personal protective equipment (PPE); restrict entry to treated areas; provide notification of pesticide applications; post specific information regarding pesticide applications (what, where and when); assure that workers have received safety training; post safety information; provide decontamination supplies; and provide access to emergency assistance when needed. State agencies generally have primary jurisdiction for enforcing WPS misuse violations. To come into compliance, contact the Pesticide Education Program  or the use the EPA website

School Integrated Pest Management in Massachusetts

The "Protecting Children and Families from Harmful Pesticides" Act requires that all schools in the commonwealth control their pests through the practice of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Consequently, all schools within Massachusetts are required to develop and submit their own IPM plans.

For details about this act and information on developing an IPM plan see: MDAR School IPM .