How do I Become an Exterminator?

A.E. Freeman
A.E. Freeman

To become an exterminator, you need a high school diploma. You may also need a license or certification to become an exterminator. Earning a license or certification usually requires a combination of classroom training and on-the-job practice. Usually, initial exterminator training lasts about three months. In lieu of training, some states may allow you to work as an apprentice before taking the exterminator license examination. After the training, you will take an exam.

Ants surrounding a piece of food.
Ants surrounding a piece of food.

If you pass the exam, you will be qualified to work as a pest control technician, which is the entry-level exterminator position. As a technician, you won't be able to use all pesticides, but will be restricted to a certain amount. After a few more months or years of work and training, you can advance to become an applicator, fumigator, or supervisor.

An exterminator can work to eliminate pests like cockroaches.
An exterminator can work to eliminate pests like cockroaches.

Before you can become an exterminator, you need to learn how to kill and remove pests such as mice, rats and ants without causing harm to humans and pets. This is usually covered in the initial training to become an exterminator technician. You will also learn the specific laws regarding pest removal and pesticide use in your state. As a fumigator or exterminator who uses restricted pesticides, you will have to know how to apply the appropriate warning labels to prevent accidental exposure.

Some exterminators use rat poison to eliminate rodents.
Some exterminators use rat poison to eliminate rodents.

You need certain skills before you can become an exterminator. As an exterminator, you should be able to communicate with your customers so that you understand their problems. You should be able to explain the methods you will use to kill or remove the pests and any safety concerns.

A flying cockroach.
A flying cockroach.

To become an exterminator, you need to be physically fit and in good health. The job may involve discomfort, such as crawling into a crawlspace or climbing the stairs to a hot attic. As you may need to drive the company truck or van, you should have a clean driving record.

Your chances of finding a job as an exterminator may be higher in a warm climate, as pests are more prevalent in areas with hot or warm weather. While many exterminators begin their careers working for a larger company, a few move on to start their own businesses after a few years of experience. A few may move on to administrative positions within a company, although in most cases a college degree is preferred for those positions.

Brown rats are a common rodent pest.
Brown rats are a common rodent pest.

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    • Ants surrounding a piece of food.
      Ants surrounding a piece of food.
    • An exterminator can work to eliminate pests like cockroaches.
      An exterminator can work to eliminate pests like cockroaches.
    • Some exterminators use rat poison to eliminate rodents.
      Some exterminators use rat poison to eliminate rodents.
    • A flying cockroach.
      A flying cockroach.
    • Brown rats are a common rodent pest.
      Brown rats are a common rodent pest.