- owns or operates a pesticide business
- or who applies either general or restricted use pesticides to the property of another without direct supervision
- or applies restricted use pesticides to the property of his/her employer
- or applies either general or restricted use pesticides to Federal, State or Local public property.
The licensure requirements assure that the applicator is competent and is using the pesticides in such a way as to minimize the risk to human health, wildlife, and our environment.
If you apply pesticides and also own or operate a pesticide business, then you will also need to apply for a Pesticide Business license and obtain the required insurance, in addition to holding a Commercial Applicator license.
For New or Expired Licenses
- If you wish to get a new Commercial Applicator license, or if your previous Commercial Applicator license has been expired for more than 180 days, then you will need to submit a new Commercial Applicator application, and pay the $35.00 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 pesticides to turf and to landscape beds, then you will need to take the exams for Core, Category 6a (Ornamental Pests), and Category 8 (Turf Pests).
When you are issued your license, you will have your license expiration date (on September 30 each year), and a 3-year Recertification Credit date. You have 3 years to earn at least 5 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 in the third year.
To Renew a Current License
To renew an existing license:
- Submit the renewal application annually (the renewal form will be mailed to you)
- Pay the license fee annually
- Every 3 years: either have at least 5 recertification hours, or retake the appropriate exams
In July, the Department will mail renewal applications to current Commercial Applicators. This application and $35.00 fee must be received by ODA or postmarked by September 30. After September 30, the licensee will have until March 31 (about 180 days after the expiration date) to submit the renewal application, and pay the $35.00 fee and $17.50 late penalty.
If the renewal application and fees have not been submitted by March 31, the licensee cannot renew their existing license. He or she will need to submit a New Applicator application and take and pass the required exams.
- Ohio laws and regulations, safety procedures, and equipment.
Category 1 - AERIAL PESTS
- Aerial pest control means the application of pesticides by aircraft. A copy of the pilot license is required. Please note that having a second category is no longer required in Ohio.
Category 2a – AGRONOMIC PESTS
- Agronomic pest control means the application of pesticides to agronomic crops for the control of pests, other than weeds and vertebrates. This category does not cover applications on ornamental nursery stock or turf.
Category 2b – HORTICULTURE PESTS
- Horticultural pest control means the application of pesticides to fruit and vegetable crops for the control of pests, other than weeds and vertebrates.
Category 2c – AGRICULTURAL WEED
- Agricultural weed control means the application of pesticides for the control of weeds in agronomic crops or horticultural crops. This category does not cover applications on ornamental nursery stock or turf.
Category 2d – SEED TREATMENT
- Seed treatment means the application of pesticides to seed for the control of insects and disease organisms.
Category 2e – TOBACCO SUCKERING
- Tobacco sucker control means the application of growth regulators to tobacco plants for the control of sucker growth.
Category 2f – SOIL FUMIGATION
- Soil fumigation means the application of fumigants to soil for the control of soil-inhabiting pests.
Category 3a – GENERAL AQUATIC PESTS
- General aquatic pest control means the application of pesticides to standing or running water, other than swimming pools, for the control of aquatic pests.
Category 3b – BOAT ANTIFOULANT
- Boat antifoulant means the application of restricted-use antifoulants to boats for the control of undesirable organisms.
Category 3c – SEWER ROOT
- Sewer root control means the application of restricted-use pesticides to sewer pipes for the control of tree roots.
Category 4a – FOREST PESTS
- General forest pest control means the application of pesticides to forested areas for the control of tree pests and weeds, and for the selective elimination of unwanted wood species as a forest management practice.
Category 4b – WOOD PRESERVATION
- Wood preservation means the application of pesticides to wood products such as crossties, poles, shingles, posts or other wood products that are not part of a structure when treated and are or will be exposed to insects, fungi, marine pests, or weather. This category does not cover the control of termites and other wood destroying organisms in houses or in an area as a pretreatment prior to the construction of a structure.
Category 5 – INDUSTRIAL VEGETATION
- Industrial vegetation control means the application of pesticides to non-agricultural lands, such as roadways, public water courses, utility rights-of-way, or in close proximity to industrial sites, power stations, parking lots or similar areas for the control or eradication of unwanted vegetation. This category includes the 6c category; 6c is not needed if you hold this category.
Category 6a – ORNAMENTAL PESTS
- General ornamental pest control means the application of pesticides to control insects and diseases of exterior ornamental plants and trees, and weeds of exterior ornamental areas such as landscape beds, tree and shrub plantings, sidewalks, driveways, or similar areas. This category includes the 6c category; 6c is not needed if you hold this category.
Category 6b – INTERIOR PLANTSCAPE
- Interior plantscape pest control means the application of pesticides to control insects, diseases, and weeds of indoor ornamental plants in locations such as homes, offices, shopping malls, stores, or similar sites.
Category 6c – ORNAMENTAL WEED
- Ornamental weed control means the application of pesticides to exterior ornamental areas such as landscape beds, tree and shrub plantings, sidewalks, driveways, or similar areas for the control or eradication of unwanted vegetation. This category is not needed if you hold either category: 5, 6a, or 8.
Category 6d – GREENHOUSE PESTS
- Greenhouse pest control means the application of pesticides to control insects, diseases, and weeds of plants grown under glass or plastic cover.
Category 7 – VERTEBRATE ANIMAL
- Vertebrate animal control means the application of pesticides, other than fumigants, for the control of pest birds whether within or outside structures, and for the control of rodents, and any other vertebrates declared by the director to be a pest, in situations other than covered under category 10.
Category 8 – TURF PESTS
- Turf pest control means the application of pesticides to lawns, turf, sod, or to soil areas being prepared for the production of turf for the control of pests, except vertebrates. This category includes the 6c category; 6c is not needed if you hold this category.
Category 9 – LIVESTOCK/ANIMAL PESTS
- Animal pest control means the application of pesticides to domestic animals which are held as agricultural commodities, or to structures in which they are confined, for the control of pests of such animals. Application of pesticides by licensed veterinarians during the course of their normal practice is specifically exempted by law.
Category 10a – GENERAL PESTS
- General pest control means the application of pesticides in or around human dwellings, industrial plants and business offices, food-handling establishments, schools, hospitals or other institutions, warehouses, grain elevators, or similar buildings to control pests, including rodents, of such structures or of the occupants, furnishings, or provisions of those structures, except for the control of pest birds and termites or fungi.
Category 10b – TERMITE
- Termite control means the application of pesticides in or around various structures, or to the ground prior to construction of a structure, for the control of termites and other invertebrate wood-destroying insects.
Category 10c – FUMIGATION
- Fumigation means the application of fumigants to structures, or commodities or equipment which are enclosed within structures, or other specially confined areas (including areas temporarily confined expressly for the purpose of fumigation) such as bins, rooms, cargo spaces, and boxcars, for the control of any pests contained within these structures or confined areas.
Category 10d – MOSQUITO, HOUSE FLY
- Mosquito, house fly, and other vector control means the application of pesticides outdoors to control invertebrate pests which are a threat to public health or a nuisance to humans, such as mosquitoes, house flies, chiggers, and ticks. This category does not include uses already covered by category 7.
Category 11 – LIVESTOCK PREDATOR
- USDA EMPLOYEES ONLY. Specialized pest control means the application of pesticides to the property of others under circumstances not covered by other categories.
Category 12 – WOOD DESTROYING INSECT DIAGNOSTIC INSPECTION (WDI)
- Wood-destroying insect diagnostic inspection means the examination of a structure at the request of any party involved in a contemplated real estate transaction to determine if wood destroying insects are present in the structure, if there is evidence they either are or have been present in the structure, or the presence of any visible damage to the structure caused by wood-destroying insects and the generation of a written report of the findings of the examination. Other requirements with this category: attendance at a 5-hour Wood Destroying Insect Inspection Training Program.
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 Commercial 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 Category 10a exam is the longest, with 150 questions. The Commercial Core exam is 90 questions, and most others are around 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
When you first apply for a Commercial license, we will send you study material for the exams you plan to take at no cost. Some study materials are available for purchase from OSU Extension office, or the OSU eStore.
- Applying Pesticides Correctly (Core Manual) (OSU)
- Ohio Pesticide Applicator Training: Core-Student Workbook (OSU)
Category 1 - Aerial Pests
Category 2a – Agronomic Pests
Category 2b – Horticulture Pests
Category 2c – Agricultural Weed
Category 2d – Seed Treatment
Category 2e – Tobacco Suckering
Category 2f – Soil Fumigation
Category 3a – General Aquatic Pests
Category 3b – Boat Antifoulant
Category 3c – Sewer Root
Category 4a – Forest Pests
Category 4b – Wood Preservation
Category 5 – Industrial Vegetation
Category 6a – Ornamental Pests
Category 6b – Interior Plantscape
Category 6c – Ornamental Weed
Category 6d – Greenhouse Pests
Category 7 – Vertebrate Animal
Category 8 – Turf Pests
Category 9 – Livestock/Animal Pests
Category 10a – General Pests
Category 10b – Termite
Category 10c – Fumigation (non-soil)
Category 10d – Mosquito, House Fly
Category 11 – Livestock Predator
- No study guide available
Category 12 – Wood Destroying Insect Diagnostic Inspection (WDI)
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 5 recertification credit hours every 3 years.
- 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 5 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 hour above the 5 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 mid-November. You can also check your status online here:
Recertification classes are offered by OSU Extension and other approved sponsors 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 $35 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 commercial licenses: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, 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.
To become licensed, in addition to submitting the application, fee, and passing the Category 12 exam, the person will need to complete a special WDI Inspection training program. These training programs are available through OSU Extension.