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Pesticide Licensing Information

EXAM APPLICATIONS: There is a new sytem for registering for the pesticide exam that became active in August 2017. You must register for the pesticide exam online using the state's "EEA ePLACE Portal".

On March 3, 1993, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources' Pesticide Board approved revision and modification of the Licensing and Certification Regulations (sections 9 and 10 of 333 CMR) and reorganization of certain parts of section 10 into section 13, "Standards of Application." In October 2010, Section 14 was added to the existing regulations. This section primarily addresses compliance with the "Act to Protect Children and Families from Harmful Pesticides" that was passed in 2000. In October 2016, there were significant changes for individuals who are applying "restricted use pesticides" under that direct supervision of a certified applicator. You can also download the pesticide laws and regulations from the MDAR website or you can order the study manuals through the UMass Extension Bookstore. 

State Licensing Law

The Massachusetts General Law has been amended to require that individuals who use pesticides "as part of their duties" in and around apartment buildings, condominiums, schools, etc. are required to obtain a Massachusetts Applicator License or Certification. This includes janitors, maintenance personnel, and landlords. This will affect anyone who applies pesticides when in the employ of a municipality, public or private school, or similar situation.

Closed Book Exams

All exams will be closed book.

One Exam

One exam will be given for each type of license. Applicator Licenses will still require the Core exam. Certification and Dealer licenses will require only one exam that combines the components of the core and specialty exam.

Age Requirement

Anyone taking any pesticide exam must be at least 18 years of age as of the date of the examination.

Experience Requirement

Before becoming commercially certified, an individual must have at least two years of work or other relevant experience. Examples of acceptable experience include work as a licensed applicator, academic studies, and other relevant work experience. Relevant experience substitutions will be defined and provided with the examination applications. The intent of the experience requirement is for an individual to work as a commercial applicator before applying for the commercial certification examination. You will have to complete and submit a Resume Form along with your Exam Application in order to register for a commercial certification exam.

Contact Hours/Continuing Education

A contact hour will equal 50 consecutive minutes of training. All pesticide applicators and Licensed Dealers are required to accumulate these contact hours every three years. The number of contact hours required is as follows:

  • Commercial Certification - 12 hrs. (per category)
  • Private Certification - 12 hrs. (per category)
  • Comm. Appl. License - 6 hrs.
  • Dealer License - 3 hrs.

At the end of your three year cycle you may be audited to verify that you have attended approved continuing education. If you do not attend the required number of contact hours you will not be able to renew your license or certification. Therefore in order to obtain a future license you would have to take the necessary exam(s) again.

Obtaining Contact Hours

You can obtain contact hours by attending workshops, lectures, and seminars. In addition, there for alternative ways to accumulate contact hours. Information on UMass Extension sponsored pesticide recertification training.

Academic Courses

The course must be within the framework of a curriculum that leads to an academic degree in entomology, botany, plant pathology, agriculture, pest control, toxicology, public health, or is relevant to pesticide use, or any course within that curriculum that is necessary to an individual's professional growth and development as a pesticide applicator or handler.

Self-Study or Correspondence Course

The course should be one developed by a professional group such as an educational corporation, professional association, or university.

Teaching or Publication

Continuing education hours may be earned by teaching a particular course, seminar series, or workshop for the first time, delivering a paper or lecture, or publishing an article or book on pesticide use. A course, seminar, or book may be considered for up to 9 continuing education hours; a published article may be considered the equivalent of up to 5 hours; a lecture or paper may be considered the equivalent of up to 3 hours.

Degree Programs

Certified or noncertified applicators taking courses for the purpose of obtaining a baccalaureate or higher degree in the biological sciences will be considered to have met the continuing education requirements specified in this section provided such courses equal at least the required number of hours. Other academic degree programs may qualify at the discretion of the department.

Failing an Exam

After failing an exam, an applicant may take the exam again when they have done some exam preparation. An applicant who fails any exam twice must wait 3 months before taking the exam again. If an exam candidate fails any exam three times, the candidate will be required to wait 1 year before taking the exam again.

Record Keeping - Pesticide Dealers Only!

The record keeping requirement for the signature of the purchaser or his agent has been changed to the signature of purchaser and his agent. If a certified applicator sends someone else to purchase restricted use pesticides on his or her behalf, the Dealer must obtain the certified applicator's signature as well.


For additional information on these changes or on any aspect of the Massachusetts Pesticide Laws and Regulation, contact the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources @ (617) 626-1720, 251 Causeway Street, Suite 500, Boston, MA 02114.