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Pesticide Applicator Overview

An overview of requirements for pesticide applicators in Virginia.

In Virginia, "pesticide use" means application or supervision of an application of a pesticide. This includes all of the routine activities that are part of a normal pesticide application:

  • mixing,
  • loading,
  • applying,
  • handling a pesticide after the container seal is broken,
  • cleaning up, and
  • disposing of excess mix, product or containers.

Certified Pesticide Applicators

Occupational use requires certification in most instances. For use of Restricted-Use Pesticides (RUPs), certification is always required. For use of General-Use Pesticides (GUPs), certification requirements depend on the nature of use, the application site, and the employer.


In Virginia, to use GUPs on the job, certification (of some type) is required for:

  • All government employees using any pesticide for any purpose.
  • All applicators who work for hire using any pesticide for any purpose.
  • Many who use pesticides as one of many job duties in areas considered to be especially sensitive (Not for Hire.)
  • Pest management (or crop) consultants who make specific pesticide recommendations for a fee.

The use of general use sanitizers, disinfectants, and germicides does not require certification in Virginia. See "Certification Exemptions" below.

Certification Requirements for Private Applicators

You must be certified as a Private Applicator if you use restricted use pesticides to produce an agricultural commodity on land you own, on land you lease, or in exchange for services with another producer. Producers' employees may use restricted-use pesticides under the direct supervision of their employer if the employer is a certified Private Applicator. Alternatively, they may be certified as Private Applicators themselves.

See Certified Private Applicator Overview for more information.

Certification Requirements for Commercial Applicators

For Hire

You must be certified as a Commercial Applicator (For Hire) if you use any pesticide on someone else's property in exchange for compensation. Certified Commercial Applicators must work for a company with a Pesticide Business License.


Not For Hire

Commercial Applicators (Not for Hire) are people, other than farmworkers (see private applicator), who use any pesticide as part of their job duties on property owned or leased by them or their employers.

In Virginia, applicators who work "Not For Hire" must be certified if they:

  • use restricted-use pesticides, or
  • use any pesticide for any purpose as a government employee.
  • "Not For Hire" Commercial Applicators who are not government employees and do not use restricted-use pesticides need to be certified ONLY if they treat:
  • areas open to the general public at educational institutions, health care facilities, day-care facilities, or convalescent facilities.
  • places where open food is stored, processed or sold.
  • recreational land over five acres.

Certification Requirements for Registered Technicians

If you have not completed the requirements for commercial certification you can be certified as a Registered Technician but you must operate under the supervision of a commercial applicator when applying restricted-use pesticides. Registered Technicians can apply general use pesticides without supervision.


See Certified Commercial Applicator Overview for more information.


Certification Exemptions:

  1. Persons conducting laboratory research involving restricted-use pesticides.
  2. Doctors of medicine and doctors of veterinary medicine applying pesticides as drugs or medications in the normal course of their practice or to control pests in corpses.
  3. Providers of janitorial, cleaning or sanitizing services, providing the only pesticides used are non-restricted sanitizers, disinfectants and germicides.
  4. Persons selling or applying paints not classified as restricted use.
  5. Painters applying restricted-use marine anti-foulant (TBT) paints under the direct, on-site supervision of a Commercial Applicator certified in Category 5B (Marine Anti-Foulant Paints). Under this exemption, one commercial applicator may supervise no more than eight uncertified painters.
  6. Forestry vegetation management crews working on foot applying general-use herbicides under the direct, on-site supervision of a Commercial Applicator certified in Category 2 (Forest Pest Control). Under this exemption, one commercial applicator may supervise up to eight uncertified applicators. The supervisor must remain in voice control of, and no more than 200 feet from, the uncertified workers in his/her crew.
  7. Prospective Registered Technicians, who use pesticides while in training under the direct, on-site supervision of a Commercial Applicator certified in the category appropriate for the pesticide use pattern(s) of the trainee.
  8. Persons who use or supervise the use of any pesticide which is not classified for restricted-use for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity on private land. This includes pesticide applications made on property owned or rented by the grower or, if applied without compensation other than trading of personal services between producers of agricultural commodities, on the property of another person. This includes farm workers employed by agricultural producers. Note: noncertified applicators employed by agricultural producers may not apply restricted-use pesticides unless under the direct supervision of a certified Private Applicator (see #9 in this list.)
  9. Farm hands; persons using restricted-use pesticides only when working for and supervised by a grower who is a certified Private Applicator.
  10. Private citizens using "homeowner" lawn, garden or household pest control products on their property or in their home.
  11. In addition, the Virginia Pesticide Control Board may exempt classes of persons who can use pesticides with minimal risk to public health and safety because of:
    • the nature of the pesticide used, and/or
    • the method of application, and/or
    • the experience and knowledge of the persons involved

Non-certified Pesticide Applicators

Non-occupational pesticide use does not require certification and involves the use of 'home & garden' products that are available at garden centers, hardware stores, grocery stores, etc. These products are ready-to-use and/or low in toxicity, NOT restricted-use, don't have other label restrictions (ex. ag/professional use only), and are sold in convenient quantities and package sizes. Non-occupational pesticide use is hobby/personal use. Hobby/Personal use can include controlling nuisances in and around the house, lawn, ornamental beds, or gardens where pesticides are applied by the homeowner or others (ex. volunteers) who do not receive payment for services rendered.



Additional Information

If you would like additional information regarding federal and state pesticide regulations and the legal responsibilities of pesticide users, please contact:


Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Office of Pesticide Services
Certification, Licensing, Registration and Training Section
P. O. Box 526
102 Governor Street, First Floor
Richmond, VA 23219
Telephone: (804) 786-3798
FAX: (804) 786-9149


If you would like additional information regarding federal and state pesticide regulations, legal responsibilities of pesticide users, pesticide management techniques, sources of approved preparatory training sessions and recertification workshops please contact:


Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE)


Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs
302 Agnew Hall - MC 0409
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Telephone: (540) 231-6543
FAX: (540) 231-3057



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