Do Pest Control Companies Need To Be Licensed?

Do Pest Control Companies Need To Be Licensed?

Though all pest control companies need to be licensed, you don’t have to finish the Commercial Applicators exam before launching your business. Today’s post explains how to run a licensed pest control business without a license of your own.

Do I Need A Special License To Run A Pest Control Business?

Every state has different requirements, but most start-ups will need a Commercial Applicators license. This licensing requirement ensures that all applicators are competent, safe, and using pesticides in such a way as to “minimize the risk to human health, wildlife, and our environment” (Department of Agriculture, 2020).

A Commercial Applicators license is needed by any individual who:

  • Owns or operates a pesticide business
  • Applies either general or restricted-use pesticides to the property of another without director supervision
  • Applies restricted-use pesticides to the property of his/her employer
  • Applies either general or restricted-use pesticides to Federal, State, or Local public property

That said, you do not need to have your license to launch your business. Indeed, most Pestmaster franchise owners open their doors for business within 3 to 6 weeks of signing the franchise agreement, which usually isn’t enough time to obtain the Commercial Applicators’ license. Here, you have several options:

  1. Focus exclusively on services that can be performed unlicensed (e.g. vegetation management, certain IPM techniques)
  2. Hire licensed pest control technicians to apply pesticides
  3. Work under a licensed Commercial Applicator until you’re ready to write your exam

How Do I Acquire A Pest Control Business License?

The fees, training, and exam differs from state to state. For instance, if you were interested in starting a Pestmaster franchise in Ohio, you’d need to:

  • Fill out and submit the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Commercial Pesticide Applicator License
  • Pay a $35.00 licensing fee
  • Schedule and complete the Pesticide Core Exam, along with one or more Category exams, depending on the type of pesticide application you need. For example, if you want to apply pesticides to landscape beds and turf, you’d need to take the exams for Core, Category 6a (Ornamental Pests), and Category 8 (Turf Pests).

Other licenses may have stricter requirements. For example, according to the National Pest Management Association, the Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) license requires:

  • 5 years of experience
  • Active U.S. pesticide applicator’s license
  • Passing a rigorous examination
  • Signing the ACE Code of Ethics
  • Maintaining a minimum number of CEUs annually (upon passing the exam)

Whatever your licensing needs, Pestmaster is here to help. We provide full assistance with all state licensing and additional licensing requirements, and we can connect you with qualified license holders, who can either help teach you the ropes, or handle specific duties that require the Commercial Applicators license.

Learn More About Starting A Pest Control Business Without A License

Call 800-525-8866 or visit the Pestmaster Contact Page to book a free consultation with a member of the Pestmaster team.



Pestmaster is both an innovative and environmentally sensitive pest management services provider. With a unique, progressive, and extremely successful franchise business model, Pestmaster professionals provide state of the art, scientifically-based integrated pest management solutions for the most challenging pestiferous problems. Pestmaster, a 21st century organization that is leading the way in the fast growing pest management industry.

Dr. Stuart Mitchell | BCE

I’ve been in the industry for years and I can’t tell you just how valuable the Pestmaster franchise opportunity really is. I have much greater access to identifying and getting potent government contracts with the help and assistance from the corporate office. We would not be nearly as successful as we are today, had we not purchased a Pestmaster Franchise.

Wayne Holliday & Tommy Houk | Pestmaster® Services of Lake City & Gainesville, FL

In today’s pest control business environment, we all need some sort of competitive edge and Pestmaster has definitely given us the edge we needed to set us apart from the competition.

Bart Van Diepen | Pestmaster® Services of Northern San Diego, CA

Pestmaster® has been the best investment I’ve ever made in my life!

Barrett Alley | Pestmaster® Services of Kingston, NY

We had options, but if we hadn’t decided on a Pestmaster Services franchise, we could not have gone from just one to several employees in less than one year of purchasing the franchise. Without the franchise, we would not have known about the high-dollar pest control services opportunities such as West Point Academy and we would certainly not have become the successful contract bidder that we are today.

Paul Alley | Pestmaster® Services of Kingston, NY

I owned my own small pest control business for six years before I decided to buy a national brand franchise. The amount of business I was able to produce in those six years was doubled in just my first year with Pestmaster Services. Joining the Pestmaster brand was an excellent choice for me and for the future of my business.

Chris Nelson | Pestmaster® Services of Salt Lake City, UT

I knew I was ready to start a business and looked for a long time but could not find my value-added proposition What could I do better than anyone else to distinguish me from the others in any industry? I have always been a technical person, so I was not confident in my ability to start a brand and market it. I also didn’t want to start from zero without help and support in my new adventure. For these reasons I looked into franchising opportunities and quickly found Pestmaster Services. They provided the value-added proposition, branding, marketing and support that I was looking for. The business model works and the people in the PFN will help you succeed.

Jerome Snyder | Pestmaster® Services of Central New York

The Pestmaster Franchise Network has enabled me to secure government contracts and group pricing with several vendors. The training from our entomologist and combined experience is incredibly valuable. It is a great network of knowledge, experience, and Camaraderie.”

Justin Kendall | Pestmaster® Services of Virginia Beach, Virginia

I would like to take a minute and thank you all for the incredible hospitality you all showed me.  You all contributed to a successful experience for me and I hope I can make you all proud by building a successful business in the mountains of PA and the suburbs of NJ.  Thank you again, this trip was a huge success and it would have not been possible without each and every one of you.

Tony Cuiffo | Pestmaster® Services of New Jersey & Pennsylvania

When we met with the franchisor, Jeff Van Diepen, we saw how involved he was with the franchises while also running some of the operations himself. Jeff was very in tune with how to run a successful franchise and was more than willing to put the time in to show that to the franchisees. I just can’t say enough about how Jeff and his team go to work each and every day to be better than the day before and how they bring that to the franchisees every day.


Alain Bernik & Tom Nelson | Pestmaster® Services of San Antonio, Texas
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