Pesticide Applicator Certification and Licensing


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is responsible for the certification and licensing of pesticide applicators in Nebraska. NDA does not regulate the process of applying pesticides in irrigation water (chemigation) or facilities where pesticides are mixed or loaded. These two functions are regulated by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE).

Certification of pesticide applicators is intended to assure that persons who use certain pesticides or who make specific types of pesticide applications have a fundamental understanding of how to do so safely. Pesticide applicator certification is the foundation for the safe and effective use of pesticides.

Pesticides are classified as either "general-use" or "restricted-use." General-use pesticides are considered safe for use by the average person provided they follow the label directions. In most cases, there is no certification or licensing requirements for the use of a general-use pesticide. Two notable exceptions to this rule are the use of structural or lawn care pesticides. In Nebraska, people who apply general-use structural or lawn care pesticides FOR HIRE are required to be certified and licensed as commercial applicators. Additionally, persons who apply any registered pesticide for mosquito control on behalf of a political subdivision of the state must be certified and licensed, typically as a non-commercial applicator.

The Nebraska Pesticide Act specifies that all persons who use a restricted-use pesticide must be licensed by the NDA. The Nebraska Pesticide Act provides for two basic types of pesticide applicator licensing, either a private or a commercial. Currently, the NDA certifies and licenses approximately 22,250 private and 9,250 commercial pesticide applicators. For answers to questions about pesticide applicator certification call the NDA at 402-471-2351.

Private Applicator Certification and Licensing is required of persons who apply restricted-use pesticides in the production of an agricultural commodity. These applications are generally carried out on their own property. Private applicators may apply restricted-use pesticides to the property of others for production of an agricultural commodity provided there is no other compensation than an exchange of services.

To become certified, a private applicator must either attend a private applicator training program sponsored by their local county extension office, complete the self-study materials in coordination with their local county extension office, or successfully complete a private applicator exam administered by the NDA. Private applicators are required to recertify once every three years. To become licensed, a private applicator must be certified and remit to the NDA a $25 fee for a 3-year license. For a listing of private applicator training sites and study materials, visit the University of Nebraska's Pesticide Education Resources page.

Commercial Applicator Certification and Licensing is required of people who make applications of restricted-use pesticides to the land of another for hire. Persons who make structural or lawn care pesticide applications to the property of another for hire are also required to be licensed regardless of whether they use general or restricted-use pesticides.

Commercial applicator certification in Nebraska is divided into various categories. These categories relate to the specific types of pesticide applications made by an individual. Those who may be considered as a commercial applicator are: (1) individuals making applications of restricted-use pesticides to a road right-of-way are required to be certified in Category 07, Right-of-Way Pest Control; and (2) someone making a mouse or roach control pesticide application to a home (structure) would need to be certified in Category 08, Structural and Health Related Pest Control.

Currently, there are 14 categories and four sub-categories of commercial pesticide applicator certification. A brief description of these categories and the specific statutory requirements for each category is provided in the Nebraska Pesticide Act. Additionally, a brief review of each category and the types of pesticide applications each category covers can be found at this web site under Category Examples.

To become certified as a commercial pesticide applicator in Nebraska, an individual must successfully complete a general standards exam and at least one specific category exam. A minimum score of 70% is required to pass an exam. The general category exam addresses the principles pertaining to the use of pesticides, which should be known by all pesticide applicators. Whereas, the category exams address information and material pertinent to specific types of pesticide applications. Once certified, a commercial pesticide applicator must pay the $90 license fee to become licensed. The commercial license is valid for 3 years.

Non-Commercial Applicator Certification is required of people who make applications of restricted-use pesticides to property or commodities under the direct control of their employer on a not-for-hire basis. It is also require by any person performing outdoor vector control on behalf of a community. Non-commercial applicators are certified in one of 14 categories in the same manner as commercial applicators. There is no fee for non-commercial applicator licenses.

Tests are facilitated by the NDA. Details regarding upcoming testing dates and locations are outlined on this web site at Certification Testing Dates

The NDA has developed certain policies concerning the certification exams and the testing sessions it sponsors. For a listing of these policies select Certification Testing Policies.

Training materials for the exams are provided by the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension and are available online at the Pesticide Education Resources web site.

In addition to training materials, the University of Nebraska also provides valuable training opportunities which are traditionally held during the months of January and February.

Commercial pesticide applicator certification must be renewed every three years. Renewal of commercial applicator certification may be done by either retesting or by attending a University of Nebraska commercial applicator training program for your category.

Licensed applicators of restricted-use pesticides are required to keep records of these applications. Records must be maintained for three years. For additional information, see the Pesticide Record Keeping Requirements in Nebraska brochure.

Application for Reciprocal Commercial Applicators License
Category Examples 
Certification Testing Dates 
Certification Testing Policies 
Commercial Pesticide Applicator Reciprocal Categories 
Sample of Ag Plant record 
Sample of Ornamental and Turf record 
Sample of Rights-of-Way record 
Sample of Structural Health Pest Control record 
Sample of Fumigation of Stored Grain or Structure record 
Sample of Wood Destroying Insects/Termites record 
Sample of Public Health Pest/Vector Control record