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Private Applicator

What is the Private Pesticide Applicator license?
The license is needed by:
  • Any individual who uses or directly supervises the use of any restricted use pesticide for purposes of producing any agricultural commodity on property owned or rented by him or his employer.

The licensure requirements assure that the applicator is competent and is using the restricted-use pesticides in such a way as to minimize the risk to human health, wildlife, and our environment.

Information about applying pesticides by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can be found here.

For New or Expired Licenses

  • If you wish to get a new Private Applicator license, or if your previous Private Applicator license has been expired for more than 180 days, then you will need to submit a new Private Applicator application, and pay the $30.00 license fee.
  • You will also need to schedule and take the Pesticide Core Exam, and one or more Category exams. Each exam covers a type of pesticide application (called Categories); you will need to pass the exam for each Category you want to apply pesticides for. For example, if you want to apply restricted pesticides to grain crops and to forage crops, then you will need to take the exams for Core, Category 1 (Grain and Cereal Crops), and Category 2 (Forage Crops and Livestock).

When you are issued your license, you will have your license expiration date (on March 31 every three years), and a 3-year Recertification Credit date. Your expiration and Recertification dates will be the same. You have 3 years to earn at least 3 hours of continuing education (called Recertification) credits. If you do not earn the required number of Recertification credits by the third year, you will need to retake the exams before you can renew your license when it expires.

To Renew a Current License

To renew an existing license:

  • Submit the renewal application (the renewal form will be mailed to you)
  • Pay the license fee
  • Either have at least 3 recertification hours, or take the appropriate exams again

In late December/January, the Department will mail renewal applications to current Private Applicators who will expire that year. This application and $30.00 fee must be received by ODA or postmarked by March 31. After March 31, the licensee will have until September 30 (about 180 days after the expiration date) to submit the renewal application, and pay the $30.00 fee. There is no late penalty fee.

If the renewal application and fees have not been submitted by September 30, the licensee cannot renew their license. He or she will need to submit a New Applicator application and take and pass the required exams.


Private Core (Required)

  • Ohio laws and regulations, safety procedures and equipment.

Category 1 – Grain and Cereal Crops

  • "Grain and cereal crops" is for applications of restricted-use pesticides, except fumigants, to agronomic field crops including but not limited to corn, grain sorghums, other small grains, soybeans and sweet corn. This category includes the application for specialty uses (see Category 7).

Category 2 – Forage Crops and Livestock

  • "Forage crops and livestock" is for applications of restricted-use pesticides, except fumigants, to crops grown primarily for use as hay, forage, fodder, or ensilage, and includes but is not limited to such crops as corn and legumes, and to domestic animals which are held as agricultural commodities and their quarters. This category includes the application for specialty uses (see Category 7).

Category 3 – Fruit and Vegetable Crops

  • "Fruit and vegetable crops" is for applications of restricted-use pesticides, except fumigants, to orchard fruit crops, and small fruits including but not limited to strawberries, brambles and grapes, field-grown vegetables, sugar beets, sweet corn and other horticultural crops grown primarily for human consumption. This category includes the application for specialty uses (see Category 7).

Category 4 – Nursery and Forest Crops

  • "Nursery and forest crops" is for applications of restricted-use pesticides, except fumigants, to commercial nursery crops including but not limited to trees, shrubs, grasses and herbaceous plants produced for replanting for their ornamental value or for future fruit production; and tree crops produced for use as Christmas trees or for their utilitarian value. This category includes the application for specialty uses (see Category 7).

Category 5 – Greenhouse Crops

  • "Greenhouse crops" is for applications of restricted-use pesticides, except fumigants, to crops grown for food production or ornamental value under an impervious surface large enough to permit worker entry. This category includes the application for specialty uses (see Category 7).

Category 6 - Fumigation

  • "Fumigation" is for applications of restricted-use fumigants to soil, grain storage, greenhouse areas or any other confined areas. This category includes the application for specialty uses (see Category 7).

Category 7 – Specialty Uses

  • "Specialty uses" is for applications of restricted-use pesticides, except fumigants, for purposes not covered by categories 1-6, including but not limited to applications for wood preservation, aquaculture, seed treatment, sod production, and for controlling pests of tobacco, ponds and non-cropland areas. Applicator only needs this category if he or she does NOT hold one or more of the above categories (1-6).


To get a new license, or to add a category to an existing license, you will need to pass one or more exams. At a minimum, you will need to pass the Private Core exam and one Category exam. Exams are good for 1 year; you must submit an application and license fee within 1 year of taking the exam. If not, you will need to retake the exam.

Exams are offered around the state throughout the year. Seating is limited at these exam sessions, and it is strongly recommended that you reserve a seat if you plan to take an exam. If you do not have a reservation, you will need to wait until a reserved seat becomes available.

There is no cost to take exams. Sometimes exams will be offered at recertification schools; there may be a registration fee to attend the classes, but not the exam itself. When you arrive at the testing location, you will have to show a photo ID to prove your identity, or have some other form of identification. If you do not already have a license, the examiner will provide you with an ID number. You will need this number to look-up your test results later.

There is no time limit to complete an exam, however some exams will take longer to complete than others. The Private Core and Category 1 exams are the longest, with 50 questions each. Most exams have a passing score of 70%. You will need to wait at least 5 days before retaking a failed exam.

About 2 weeks after the exam, ODA will mail you the exam results. You may also check your exam result here. Due to security concerns, we do not provide exam scores over the phone.

Exam Study Material

Most private license study materials are freely available as PDF documents. The others can be purchased from OSU Extension offices, or the OSU eStore. Please call your Extension office first to find out if they have printed study materials available. These materials are not distributed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Core Information
Category 1 - Grain and Cereal Crops
Category 2 - Forage Crops and Livestock
Category 3 - Fruit and Vegetable Crops
Category 4 - Nursery and Forest Crops
Category 5 - Greenhouse Crops
Category 6 - Fumigation
Category 7 - Specialty Uses
  • No study guide is available


To remain licensed, the applicator must prove he or she is competent every three years. They can do this by either:
  • retaking the pesticide exams, or
  • attending approved continuing education classes. Applicators must earn at least 3 recertification credit hours every 3 years; the 3 year deadline is the same as your license expiration date.
    • one hour must be earned by taking a Core education class
    • one half-hour of education in each Category on the license
    • the remaining time (up to the 3 hour requirement) can be earned by attending any class.

Note: Credit hours do not carry over from cycle to cycle. For example, if you earn 6 hours during your three year recert cycle, the extra 3 hours above the 3 hour minimum will not be applied to your next three year education cycle.

ODA will mail information about your current credit hour status with your renewal application, usually in late December or January. You can also check your status online here:

Recertification classes are offered by OSU Extension throughout the year. At these classes they will provide you with a form to complete, including your name, address, and license number. At the end of each class, you will be provided with a code number to enter on the form. One copy of the form you will keep for your records, and another copy will be submitted to us by the program sponsor. Note: some classes will charge you a registration fee to attend. This registration fee is not the $30 license fee you owe when you mail us your renewal application.


If you are licensed as a pesticide applicator in a different state, you may be able receive a reciprocal license in Ohio without taking an Ohio exam. The following states currently have reciprocity for Ohio private licenses: Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia

Reciprocity is based on state of residence; for example, if a person is a resident of Indiana and is licensed there, then the applicator’s Ohio license will be based on those Indiana exams. The persons seeking reciprocity in Ohio must send a legible copy of their driver’s license with the application, to show proof of residency.

In addition to reciprocal licenses, some recertification education credits can be reciprocal. If eligible, credits earned in other states will be sent to the Ohio Department of Agriculture by the program sponsor. If you want credits earned in Ohio to apply to other states, speak with the ODA representative at the recertification school you are attending.