Commercial Applicator

If you wish to apply for pesticides “for hire”, you will need to become a licensed commercial applicator in one or more of the 21 categories designated by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. There are 2 types of licenses for commercial applicators:

  • If you are unsure whether you need a commercial pesticide applicator’s license, or another type of license, try using our decision tree.
  • If you would like to review the various categories of applicator licensing, CLICK HERE.
  • Commercial Applicators can now take their examinations at proctored locations across Colorado! Find out how this works by CLICKING HERE!
  • If you have already created a Metro Institute log-in through the CDA, CLICK HERE to schedule an exam!
  • You can order study guides for the General exam and other categories through the National Pesticide Safety Education Center (NPSEC).

Certified Operators vs. Qualified Supervisors

Certified Operators (CO)

If you have little experience applying pesticides and will not be recommending or selling pest control measures, this is the license you should obtain. You will have to work under the supervision of a qualified supervisor.

To become a CO, you must:

  • Pass the CO general exam plus the CO exams in all categories for which you wish to be licensed. All exams are scheduled online. Each exam costs $31.50.
  • After passing the General Exam and at least one category, submit a $100 license fee with your license application.
Qualified Supervisors (QS)

You should obtain this type of license if you have the required experience in the category in which you’d like to be licensed; and if you will evaluate pest problems, sell or recommend pest control measures, or supervise others in the application of pesticides.

To become a QS, you must:

  • Pass the the QS general exam plus the QS exams in all categories for which you wish to be licensed. All exams are scheduled online. Each exam costs $31.50.
  • Possess the experience and qualifications required by the rules and regulations for each category in which you wish to be licensed. These are described below. When you pass your exams, you must document your experience/education and provide it to CDA. An individual may take a QS exam without meeting the experience requirement but will only be licensed as a CO until the experience is earned and documented with CDA. At that time, the license will be upgraded to a QS without additional retesting.
  • After passing the General Exam and at least one category, submit a $100 license fee with your license application.

Experience/education Qualifications Required for a QS License - Select a Category to Expand

Agricultural Categories (101-111)

Agricultural Categories (Categories 101-111)
In order to become a QS in these categories, you must have obtained the following experience or qualifications within the last 5 years:

  • 8 months field experience or;
  • 2 years of college credit and 2 months field experience or;
  • 1 year college credit and 5 months field experience.

Agricultural Insect Control (101)

The application of pesticides to agricultural plants, including applications performed on pastures, croplands and non-crop agricultural lands, to control invertebrate pests, including insects, mites, slugs, snails, and nematodes.

Agricultural Plant Disease Control (102)

The application of pesticides to agricultural plants, including applications performed on pastures, croplands and non-crop agricultural lands, to control plant diseases.

Agricultural Weed Control (103)

The application of pesticides to agricultural lands, including pastures, croplands and non-crop agricultural lands, to control weeds.

Seed Treatment (104)

The application of pesticides to seeds.

Livestock Pest Control (105)

The application of pesticides to livestock.

Forest Pest Control (106)

The application of pesticides in forests, forest nurseries, forest seed producing areas managed for the production of timber and other forest products or maintained as wood vegetation for such indirect benefits as protection of catchment areas or public recreation, including windbreaks and downed timber. For applications in forested areas within fifty (50) feet of a residential or commercial structure, an applicator must also hold the ornamental pest control category in accordance with Part 9 of these rules and comply with all of the posting and notification requirements in section 35-10-112, C.R.S., of the Pesticide Applicators’ Act. This additional certification in the ornamental pest control category shall not apply to aerial applicators or ground applications made by federal, state, or local governments on property they own. This category does not apply to pesticide applications made to control vertebrate pests.

Rangeland Pest Control (107)

The application of pesticides to land which is not managed for turf, pasture or forest on which the vegetation is predominantly native plant species of introduced species managed as native species such as grasses, grass-like plants, forbs or shrubs. Rangelands include but are not limited to natural grasslands, shrublands, deserts, tundras, and meadows. For applications performed in rangeland areas within fifty (50) feet of a residential or commercial structure, an applicator must also hold the turf pest control category in accordance with Part 9 of these rules and comply with all of the posting and notification requirements in section 35-10-112, C.R.S., of the Pesticide Applicators’ Act. This additional certification in the ornamental pest control category shall not apply to aerial applicators or ground applications made by federal, state, or local governments on property they own. This category does not apply to pesticide applications made to control vertebrate pests.

Aquatic Pest Control (108)

The application of pesticides to standing or running water when made to control weeds, amphibians, fish and other pests in water, except for pesticide applications which are included in the “Public Health” category

Industrial and Right-of-Way Weed Control (109)

The application of pesticides to maintain roads, sidewalks, trails, paths, utility lines, railways, parking lots, drilling rigs, substations, open irrigation and drainage structures or similar areas and adjacent land within right of ways associated with such areas for the purpose of establishing or maintaining definable cover or bare ground.

Public Health Pest Control (110)

The application of pesticides for control of disease vectors, except vertebrates.

Research and Demonstration (111)

Application of pesticides in the course of conducting field research or demonstration. No license or certification will be issued in this category unless the applicant also obtains licensing or certification, in the specific category listed in the Rules, which is appropriate to the research activity.

Metam Sodium for Sewer Root Control (113)

Metam sodium for root control in sewers: the application of metam sodium in sewers to control roots. For purposes of this sub-category, “sewer” shall mean any artificial conduit for the transmission of wastewater to a wastewater treatment plant.

In order to become a QS in this category, you must have obtained the following experience or qualifications within the last 5 years:

  • 40 hours of field experience in the application of pesticides in sewers; or
  • Level 2 or 3 wastewater collection certification issued by CO Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Systems Council and 20 hours of field experience; or
  • Class A, B, or C wastewater treatment plant operator certification issued by the CDPHE, and 20 hours of field experience.

Ornamental Categories (206 - 207)

Content is in sub-categories

Turf Pest Control (206)

The application of pesticides to: (1) turf to control invertebrate pests, including insects, mites, slugs, snails, and nematodes, or to control plant diseases or weeds; or (2) ornamental beds to control weeds.

In order to become a QS in this category, you must have obtained the following experience or qualifications within the last 2 years:

  • 4 months field experience; or
  • 2 years college credit and 1 month field experience; or
  • 1 year college credit and 2.5 months field experience

Ornamental Pest Control (207)

The application of pesticides to ornamental trees, shrubs, beds, flowers and other ornamental plants, except turf or indoor ornamental plants, to control invertebrate pests, including insects, mites, slugs, snails and nematodes, or to control plant diseases.

In order to become a QS in this category, you must have obtained the following experience or qualifications within the last 5 years:

  • 8 months field experience in ornamental pest control; or
  • 2 years college credit and 4 months field experience; or
  • 1 year college credit and 6 months field experience.

Structural Categories I (301, 303, 304)

In order to become a QS in these categories, you must have obtained the following experience or equivalents within the last 5 years:

  • 24 months field experience
  • OR College or University Credit in structural pest control or related field may be combined with field experience:
    • 4 years college credit and 4 months field experience; or
    • 3 years college credit and 9 months field experience; or
    • 2 years college credit and 14 months field experience; or
    • 1 year college credit and 19 months field experience.

* Applicants licensing as a Qualified Supervisor in Wood Destroying Organisms must also have obtained, within the two years immediately preceeding the application for licensing: 100 hours of verifiable field experience in termite control, including 30 hours of verifiable “hands-on” field experience covering drill and inject and other post-treat methods and applications. Any or all of these 100 hours may be obtained in courses approved by the Commissioner.

Wood Destroying Organism Pest Control (301)

The application of pesticides to control termites, carpenter ants, powder post beetles, fungi, and/or other wood destroying organisms in structures and/or adjacent outside areas.

Fumigation (303)

The application of a fumigant to one or more rooms in a structure or to the entire structure at a desired concentration and for a length of time necessary for the control of rodents and/or insect pests, including the application of a fumigant to a localized space or harborage within a structure for local insect and/or rodent control.

Residential/Commercial Pest Control (304)

The application of pesticides or bait stations intended for use for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating structural pests, including without limitation insects and rodents. However, this category does not include the application of fumigants or actions taken to control wood destroying organisms, outdoor vertebrates, or grain storage pests.

Structural Categories II (302, 305, 306, 307, 308)

In order to become a QS in these categories, you must have obtained the following experience or qualifications within the last 5 years:

  • 8 months field experience; or
  • 2 years college credit and 2 months field experience; or
  • 1 year college credit and 5 months field experience.

Outdoor Vertebrate Pest Control (302)

The application of pesticides intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any reptile, bird, feral dogs and cats, moles, voles, bats, wild carnivores, rabbits, skunks, amphibian pests not in water and any other vertebrate pest, except rats and mice.

Stored Commodities Treatment (305)

The application of pesticides for the treatment of pests in raw grain stored in facilities which are not used for animal or human habitation; the application of plant growth regulators to agricultural commodities stored in facilities which are not used for animal or human habitation; and the application of pesticides to commodity processing equipment or commodity storage facilities (not including offices or other structures).

Wood Preservation and Wood Products Treatment (306)

The application of pesticides to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate pests in wood or wood products which are, or are capable of being, incorporated into a structure, not including downed timber prior to bark removal or sawing.

Interior Plant Pest Control (307)

The application of pesticides to house plants and other indoor ornamental plants kept or located within structures occupied by humans, including, but not limited to houses, apartments, offices, shopping malls, other places of business and other dwelling places, to control invertebrate pests that adversely affect such plants, including insects, mites, slugs, snails and nematodes; and to control plant diseases.

Post Harvest Potato Pest Control (308)

The application of pesticides for the treatment of pests in raw potatoes stored in facilities which are not used for animal or human habitation; the application of plant growth regulators to potatoes stored in facilities which are not used for animal or human habitation; and the application of pesticides to potato processing equipment or potato storage facilities (not including offices or other structures).

Study Guide, Licensing, and Certification

Preparation

Preparing for the exam is your responsibility. Reading the Pesticide Applicators’ Act (Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 35, Article 10) and its associated Rules and Regulations may not be the most fun thing in the world, but doing so will help you on your exam. (The previous links are ‘unofficial’ copies. The official versions must be obtained through LexisNexis)

In addition to these laws, you can obtain both the General Pesticide Applicator Training Manual and guides for all categories from the National Pesticide Safety Education Center (NPSEC). Study hard!

Signing up for the Exam

CDA has partnered with Metro Institute (an online testing company) and Colorado State University Extension to enhance the testing requirements for individuals interested in acquiring a license as qualified supervisor or a certified operator. This partnership has given individuals an opportunity to take the exam at various testing centers around Colorado. As a result of the partnership, CDA has changed the qualified supervisor/certified operator examination procedures.

In order to take a QS or CO exam, you must follow these steps:

  1. Sign up for your Pesticide Applicator exam through the Metro Institute Website.
  2. You will receive an email verifying that you are using a valid email address. The email will also provide you with a link to continue your application process.
  3. The link takes you to a webpage which contains your username/password and a login address for that site. **Print your username/password and keep it somewhere handy! This same username/password will be used if you need to retest due to examination failure OR if you would like to add a category later on.
  4. Provide your employer address or firm name on this page. If self-employed, or not affiliated with a company, type N/A in the Employer field. Click continue.
  5. Select exam categories based on whether you want to test as Qualified Supervisor or Certified Operator. Click continue.
  6. The Colorado Department of Agriculture will review your application and then tell you that you can schedule your test by returning to Metro Institute’s Website. (Testing locations are listed below.) When you return to the Metro site, you will be required to provide your username and password.
Passing the exam

A score of 70% or better is a passing score. Because testing is computer-based, you will receive your score from the site proctor as soon as you finish.

If you have passed, you will be given the paperwork for your license application or can download the application. Complete the application and submit it to CDA with your $100 license fee.

Exam scores are valid for one year from the date of the passed exam. There is no additional license fee when upgrading from a CO to a QS if the QS exam was taken and passed, and experienced earned. There is also no additional license fee to add categories to a current license after passing the category exam.

Re-Examination

If you fail the general exam or any category, you must retake those exams. You can apply to retest by logging into the Metro Institute. You must use your previously given username/password from your initial application. *Your username is usually firstname.lastname. If you forgot your password, click forgot password. After entering your username, Metro Insitute will email you your new password.

Adding Categories

After obtaining your Commercial License, you can add categories by taking the appropriate exam(s). Again, you must log in using your previously given username/password from your initial application. After passing, you will have to complete a new license application but you will not have to pay an additional license fee.

**Link: CSU University Testing Center Directions

Both QS and CO licenses expire 3 years from the licensee’s birth-date. The renewal fee is $100. You must submit your renewal before the expiration date; if it is submitted up to 30 days after the expiration date, you will pay a late fee. In order to renew your license, you must either:

  • Earn the required continuing education credits; or
  • Re-take the exam and apply for a new license within 30 days after the expiration date.

Learn more about re-certification.

Licenses for Businesses

There are 3 types of pesticide application licenses for businesses. Use the chart below to decide which your business must obtain.

Applicants for commercial business licenses must:

  • Employ or have available at least 1 qualified supervisor (QS) commercial applicator licensed in the category of application.
  • Provide proof of required insurance. Complete this Certificate of Evidence of Insurance .
  • Complete the Business License Application form and submit to CDA.
  • Submit a Certificate of Good Standing from the Secretary of State if the applicant is a corporation, a limited liability partnership (LLP), or a limited liability company (LLC).
  • If an aerial applicator, provide a copy of certification issued by the FAA; and
  • Submit an annual $350 license fee with the application.
For more information about business licenses, contact CDA at (303) 869-9066 or by email.

Any business or public agency that is operating as a Limited Commercial or Public Applicator and applying RUPs, MUST register with CDA and employ at least one Qualified Supervisor Commercial Applicator for every category where they apply pesticides. Persons working for limited commercial or public applicators that apply only General Use pesticides (GUPs) and DO NOT apply RUPs, do not require a Commercial Applicator license. If the applicator does obtain a commercial applicator license, the business or agency may voluntarily register with CDA if only applying GUPs.

Applicants must:

  • Submit the Registration Form to CDA.
  • Submit a Certificate of Good Standing from the Secretary of State if the applicant is a corporation, a limited liability partnership, or a limited liability company.
  • Employ or have available at least 1 qualified supervisor commercial applicator licensed in the proper category of application.
  • If an aerial applicator, provide a copy of certification issued by the FAA; and
  • Submit an annual $50 registration fee.
For more information on limited commercial and/or public license registration, contact CDA at (303) 869-9063 or by email.

If you hold a pesticide applicator’s license granted by another state or jurisdiction, there are a few things you need to know:

  1. You can become a licensed private applicator or certified operator in Colorado without passing any examinations.
  2. However, this reciprocal license is valid only for the unexpired term of your current license.
  3. In order to obtain your reciprocal license, you must:
    – Provide proof of current certification and licensure in good standing from the other jurisdiction; and
    – Pay an application fee.
  4. You will be licensed as a Certified Operator and must work under a Colorado Qualified Supervisor licensed in the categories where you will be making applications.
  5. Your reciprocal license will expire on the same day your license in the other jurisdiction expires.
  6. You cannot renew a reciprocal license by completing continuing education credits. You may, however, renew by:
    – Applying for renewal based on reciprocity OR
    – By taking the Colorado examinations and satisfying all other requirements for licensure in Colorado
For more information on reciprocal licensure, contact CDA at (303) 869-9063 or by email.
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