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What are the Different Pest Control Careers?

Dale Marshall
Dale Marshall

The nature of the work involved in pest control limits the variety of pest control careers available for those who enjoy working in the field, doing work that’s sometimes dirty, sometimes exacting, and whose success isn’t always immediately obvious. There are career opportunities in agricultural pest control, aquatic pest control, pest control in residential structures and in food handling establishments, as well as many other areas. Most pest control operators work from service vehicles on the ground, but some use airplanes to dust crops with pesticides. Pest control careers of a somewhat different nature are available in research and development, working for a pest control company or a manufacturer of pest control chemicals or devices.

Pest control jobs are found in pest control companies, the companies that manufacture pest control equipment and supplies, the government, and companies whose product isn’t related to pest control, but require it regularly, such as agricultural businesses and food processing companies. Nearly all pest control jobs require certification, although some states will permit a technician to operate without certification when supervised by a certified applicator. Except for those involved in R&D for pest control suppliers, most operators’ daily routine includes mixing the chemicals that will be used in the day’s jobs and loading them into the spraying equipment, traveling to various job sites and performing the actual pesticide application. When the day’s last job is done, they return to the shop, clean the equipment and do paperwork.

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

Pest control careers in the chains are characterized by the usual “climbing the ladder” approach to advancement in any corporate environment; that is, workers will advance in accordance with their qualifications, skills, and leadership ability. In these corporate organizations, pest control careers may involve as much time in an office or in sales meetings with potential clients as time spent in the field. Outside the chains, though, pest control careers focus more or less exclusively on pest control and supervision of other pest control applicators. For example, a pest control applicator employed by a food processing company won’t normally be eligible for promotion outside that department, and will thus be able to concentrate on pest control. He’ll still be expected to keep abreast of developments in the field, though, and like his counterparts in the chains, will have to recertify periodically. In most cases, employers will pay for all costs involved in recertification.

A pest control professional can work to eliminate pests like cockroaches.
A pest control professional can work to eliminate pests like cockroaches.

Sole proprietors and those who work for small companies may find themselves assigned to multiple duties to address the many responsibilities faced by a successful pest control operation. These are the sort of responsibilities that would be addressed by other departments in a corporate setting, things like compliance with recordkeeping requirements, bookkeeping and sales. One of the advantages of small operations, though, is that by providing a level of personal service of which larger organizations are incapable, they’ll always be there to fill a niche of clients and householders who prefer or require such an approach.

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Discussion Comments


@rundocuri- Anyone considering this field should also be aware of his reaction to chemicals. Though pest control staff members were protective clothing, the chemicals may still cause allergic reactions such as headaches and nausea. These symptoms would make working in this field very difficult for sensitive individuals.


If you are considering a career in pest control, make sure that you are not squeamish about working around insects and other pests before you pursue this field. I have a nephew who went through training and had a good position with a pest control company, just to find out that he could not tolerate working in situations where there were a lot of bugs. He said that he hadn't anticipated just how infested some buildings would be, and the job just wasn't going to work for him.

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    • Ants surrounding a piece of food.
      By: Sapsiwai
      Ants surrounding a piece of food.
    • A pest control professional can work to eliminate pests like cockroaches.
      By: R_R
      A pest control professional can work to eliminate pests like cockroaches.
    • Some exterminators use rat poison to eliminate rodents.
      By: jaggat
      Some exterminators use rat poison to eliminate rodents.
    • Snakes are one animal a pest control officer might have to deal with.
      By: Alexey Kuznetsov
      Snakes are one animal a pest control officer might have to deal with.