Certified Pesticide Applicators & Continuing Education


Private Applicator Certification (PAC) - A private applicator is a person who applies or supervises the use of a federal or state restricted use pesticides for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity on property owned, leased, or rented by him/her or his/her employer; or a householder who uses or supervises the use of a restricted use pesticide outside their residence to control plant or turf pests on residential property owned, leased, or rented by the householder. A PAC is also considered qualified to provide pesticide handler training to his/her employees in production agriculture settings.

A private applicator is a person who applies or supervises the use of a federal or for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity on property owned, leased, or rented by him/her or his/her employer; or a householder who uses or supervises the use of a restricted use pesticide outside their residence to control plant or turf pests on residential property owned, leased, or rented by the householder. A PAC is also considered qualified to provide to his/her employees in production agriculture settings.

To become certified, a private applicator must come into our office, take and pass a written examination with a minimum score of 70%. There is no fee for taking the examination, obtaining the certification card, or renewing the certification. Check our calendar for the next testing date in Santa Maria, or call our Santa Barbara office to make an appointment to take the exam in Santa Barbara, Carpinteria or Buellton. To prepare for the exam, you may purchase a copy of "Pesticide Safety: A Reference Manual for Private Applicators" in English or Spanish at our Santa Barbara or Santa Maria office, or directly from University of California Cooperative Extension .

The examination is available in both English and Spanish. The only part of the Spanish examination written in English is the pesticide label. Federal law requires all certified applicators to be able to read and understand the registered labeling. In the United States most pesticide labels are only written in English.

PACs must be renewed every three years. You may choose to take and pass the written re-certification exam with a minimum score of 70%, or earn the necessary continuing education hours. PACs must earn a total of 6 hours of continuing education, 2 of which must be in Laws and Regulations. PAC holders must provide written documentation to the Agricultural Commissioner's Office that they have completed the necessary continuing education hours when renewing their PAC.

Qualified Applicator License and Certificate (QAL) - You must possess a valid Qualified Applicator License (QAL) if you do any of the following:

  • Apply or supervise the application of federally restricted use pesticides or state restricted materials for any purpose or on any property other than that provided by the definition of private applicator (see above).
  • Supervise the pesticide applications made by a licensed pest control business and are responsible for its safe and legal operation.

In order to obtain a QAL, you must submit an application and appropriate fees to the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). You must also pass the required examinations administered by DPR. 

    Qualified Applicator Certificate (QAC) - You must possess a valid Qualified Applicator Certificate (QAC) if you do any of the following:

  • Apply or supervise the application of federally restricted use pesticides or state restricted materials for any purpose or on any property other than that provided by the definition of private applicator (see above).
  • If you own a business of maintenance gardening, and perform pest control that is incidental to such a business. If this is the case, you must possess the Maintenance Gardener Category (Q) or the Landscape Maintenance Pest Control Category (B) on your certificate and, in addition, obtain a Maintenance Gardener Pest Control Business License.
  • In order to obtain a QAC, you must submit an application and appropriate fees to the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). You must also pass the required examinations administered by DPR. 


    For complete information about licensing, visit  DPR License & Certification Program


    Structural Pest Control Applicator, Field Representative, Operator- To become a structural pest control licensee, visit the Structural Pest Control's licensing website.