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Frequently Asked Questions

Pesticide Applicator Certification Questions

Do I need to be a certified pesticide applicator?

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is the agency responsible for enforcing WA pesticide laws including licensing. According to state and/or federal pesticide regulations a pesticide applicator license is needed if:

  • You use restricted use pesticides (RUP)
  • You distribute pesticides or provide advice on their use (except home and garden products)
  • You apply any pesticide for commercial service
  • You are a public employee and apply pesticides through power equipment

For more information see the Pesticide Licensing Fact Sheet.


What type of pesticide applicator license do I need?

The type of license you need depends on 1) who you work for and 2) the type of work you do. There are 12 license types and 28 different categories. Take a look at page 2 of the Pesticide Licensing Fact Sheet to help you determine the license type that is right for you. If you have specific questions about licenses, contact the WSDA Licensing Department at 877-301-4555


How do I become a certified applicator?

To get your pesticide applicator license you need to demonstrate a required level of knowledge and skills for safe pesticide use. This is done by passing a state administered exam. There are also some additional requirements for Commercial Applicators.


How do I become a licensed Structural Pest Inspector?

To get your structural pest inspector license you are required to demonstrate knowledge of identification of wood-destroying organisms and conditions conducive to damage. This is done by passing a state administered exam. There are also some additional requirements for Structural Pest Inspectors.


Which study materials do I need?

For each exam, there is a separate study manual that has a very similar name to the license endorsement. Order study materials online or download a PDF order form to submit by US Mail.  Call 800-723-1763 to order by phone.  DO NOT email or fax order form with credit card information.

Here are some examples of license types and corresponding study materials:

WA State Dept. of Agriculture
Exam Title
Washington State University (WSU)
Study Material Title
Publication Number
Private Applicator Private Applicator Pesticide Education Manual EM020
Public Operator
(doing rights-of-way weed management)
Washington Pesticide Laws and Safety EM012
Rights-of-Way Vegetation Management EM029
Commercial Operator
(doing turf and ornamental weed and insect management)
Washington Pesticide Laws and Safety EM012
Turf & Ornamental Weed Management Principals EM035
Introduction to Insect and Disease Management EM051
Commercial Operator
(doing aquatic weed control)
Washington Pesticide Laws and Safety EM012
Aquatic Pest Control EM039


What is the exam like? What do I need to pass? Where do I take the exam?

The exam is a closed book, multiple-choice exam. You need a 70% or higher to pass an exam. WSDA administers the exam and they offer testing at different locations and times around the state.Tests range in their number of questions with the average range between 10 and 100 questions.

WSDA requires a reservation to attend a testing session. Please call 1-877-301-4555 toll-free to reserve your spot. Many county extension offices offer Private Applicator testing sessions. Contact your local WSU County Extension office for more information.


Are the pesticide applicator exams, review courses, and manuals available in Spanish?

WSDA offers the following pesticide applicator exams in Spanish.  The Preparing for Exams factsheet has additional information (English/Spanish).

  • Laws and Safety
  • Private Applicator
  • Agricultural Weed
  • Rights-of-Way Weed
  • Turf and Ornamental Weed
  • Wood Treatment

The following study manuals are available in Spanish from WSU to help prepare for the pesticide applicator exams.

  • For the Private Applicator exam:  Manual para Aplicadores Privados de Pesticidas (EM020S)
  • For Laws and Safety and the Turf and Ornamental Weed exams:  Los Principipos de Manego de las Malezas en Césped y Plantas Ornamentales (EM023S)

WSDA schedules Spanish language pre-license classes to help prepare for the Private Applicator exams. For more information about these courses contact Manuel Ornelas at 509-249-6924 or email