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Pesticide Applicator / Operator Certification and Licensing


Individuals wishing to purchase and/or apply restricted use pesticides in Illinois are required to successfully complete a competency examination and receive a license from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.  The Department offers 5 license types (private, dealer, commercial, commercial not-for-hire, and public) and 17 licensure categories (aquatic, demonstration and research, field crop, forest, fruit, grain facility, livestock, mosquito, ornamental, plant management, regulatory, right-of-way, sewer line root control, seed treatment, soil fumigation, turf, and vegetable crop). 

Competency exam class

As part of the certification and licensing program, the Department conducts various types of inspections and pesticide application records checks and investigates alleged pesticide misuse.  In 2011, the Department along with the U.S. EPA and several other Midwestern states launched the DriftWatch program in an attempt to promote better communications between pesticide users and sensitive crop growers.  The DriftWatch program is an internet-based geographic information system which allows growers to register the locations of their sensitive crop production areas and allows pesticide users to access those locations. 

Illinois Pesticide Act Licensing Requirements

A pesticide license is required of everyone applying Restricted Use pesticides.  Also, anyone applying Restricted or general Use pesticides in the course of employment must have a license.  A person applying a General Use pesticide on his or her own property is exempt.  A Restricted Use pesticide will have “Restricted Use” displayed prominently on its label.  A license is required to purchase Restricted Use pesticides but not General Use pesticides.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture certifies and licenses those applying pesticides in outdoor environments and in the production of agricultural commodities.  The University of Illinois Extension, through a cooperative agreement with the department, provides training and study materials.

The Illinois Department of Public Health certifies and licenses individuals applying pesticides in and on man-made structures.  This includes nuisance bird control, rodent control, wood treatment, and insect control.  They can be contacted at (217) 782-4674.  Illinois Department of Public Health

Applicators

An applicator is the person(s) in an organization who has the responsibility for all pesticide purchasing, storage, handling, and use.  Each organization must have at least one person licensed as an applicator at each facility location.  The applicator's license categories dictate the areas in which a company may legally apply pesticides.  An applicator is usually an owner, a supervisor, or a foreman.  An applicator may use pesticides or supervise the use of pesticides by that person's licensed operators.

Applicator Licensing Requirements

  1. Pass the 100-question General Standards exam or Aerial General Standards exam with a score of 70 or more.

  2. Pass one or more 50-question Category exam with a score of 35 or more correct.  Category selection depends on the sites where the company uses pesticides.

  3. Watch the mail for your license application.

  4. Fill out and return the completed license application form and appropriate fee to the Illinois Department of Agriculture within 90 days.  (If 90 days elapse, the completed exams are no longer valid and you must retest).

Commercial applicators must pay a $60 annual license fee and provide a certificate of insurance with proper coverage.  The insurance requirements will be sent with your application.  Commercial not-for-hire and public applicators must pay a $20 annual license fee and no certification of insurance is required.

Operators

An operator is a person who uses pesticides at the job site.  The operator is tied directly to the applicator's license.  The operator cannot be licensed without an applicator being properly licensed.  The operator can apply pesticides only under the direct supervision of the applicator and can apply pesticides only to areas covered by the applicator's license.

Supervision and direction of operators by an applicator is interpreted to mean that the applicator must be in daily contact with the operators.  If the applicator is out of town or not available, the operator may not legally apply pesticides.  An operator may not legally work for another applicator.

Operator Licensing Requirements

  1. Be employed and supervised by a currently licensed applicator.

  2. Pass the 100-question General Standards exam or Aerial General Standards exam with a score of 70 or more.

  3. Watch the mail for your license application.

  4. Fill out and return the license application form and appropriate fee to the Illinois Department of Agriculture within 90 days.  (If 90 days elapse, the completed exams are no longer valid and you must retest).

Commercial operators must pay a $40 annual license fee.  Commercial not-for-hire and public operators must pay a $15 annual license fee.

Types of Licenses

Exams for the following are valid for a period of three years if no lapse occurs in licensure:

Private Applicator License – required for people applying Restricted Use pesticides to produce an agricultural commodity on property they own or control.  Private Applicators must take the Grain Fumigation category examination in order to fumigate their own grain bins. For additional information:  http://www.pesticidesafety.illinois.edu/ or 877-626-1650 ($30 fee for 3-year license).

Pesticide Dealer License – an individual selling Restricted Use pesticides must be licensed.  Also, an individual selling non-restricted use (general use) pesticides for the production of an agricultural commodity in containers with capacities equal to or greater than 2-1/2 gallons or 10 pounds must be licensed.  A test, license, and fee are reequied.  Also, mandatory records must be kept for two years.  Commercial Applicators and Structural Pest Control Licensees are exempt form the test and fee but must register with the Department of Agriculture as a Dealer ($100 fee for 1-year license). 

Commercial Applicator or Operator License – required for individuals who purchase, use or supervise the use of pesticides classified for General or Restricted Use for hire.  (Applicator - $60; Operator - $40; both 1-year licenses).

Public Applicator or Operator License – required for individuals who use or supervise the use of pesticides classified for General or Restricted Use as an employee of a state agency, municipality, or other duty constituted governmental agency or unit (Applicator - $20; Operator - $15; both 1-year licenses).

Commercial Not-for-hire Applicator or Operator License – required for individuals who use or supervise the use of pesticides classified for General or Restricted Use for any purpose on property of an employer when such activity is a requirement of the terms of employment and the application is limited to property under the control of the employer only.  (Applicator - $20; Operator - $15; both 1-year licenses).

Categories of Licensure

Each category is designed for pesticide use requiring specific professional knowledge.  A company's entire range of pesticide use must be covered by the categories on the applicator's license.  Many applicators need multiple categories on their licenses.  The following is a list of categories of licensure offered in Illinois:

Aquatic pest control – pesticide use in standing or running water;

Demonstration and Research – pesticide use during research or the teaching of pesticide and equipment use;

Field Crop pest control – pesticide use in corn, soybeans, small grains, forages, grasslands, etc.;

Forest pest control – pesticide use in forests, forest nurseries, and forest seed-producing areas;

Fruit Crop pest control – pesticide use in fruit and nut crops;

Grain Facility pest control – pesticide use in and around grain elevators or similar grain holding facilities, conveyances, and transportation facilities;

Livestock pest control – pesticides applied to livestock or livestock barns;

Mosquito control – insecticides applied to control mosquitoes;

Ornamental pest control – pesticide use on trees, shrubs, and ornamental plantings;

Plant Management pest control – pesticide use on portable plants used for interior landscaping and environmental enhancement;

Regulatory pest control – for government employees involved in the control of regulated pests with pesticides;

Right-of-Way pest control – chemical weed control on noncrop sites such as parking lots, along roads, in access rights-of-way, and in fence lines;

Sewer Line Root control – chemical control of roots in sewer lines;

Seed Treatment – pesticide use on seeds;

Soil Fumigation – pesticide use for soil fumigation;

Turf pest control – pesticide use on turf areas and sod farms; and

Vegetable Crop pest control – pesticide use in vegetable crops.

Reciprocity

Individuals may qualify for licensure in the state of Illinois through reciprocity if they are currently licensed to conduct the same type of pesticide application in another state, provided that the licensure is from their current state of residency and licensure was based on the successful completion of a closed book examination within the previous three years.  Individuals wishing to qualify for an Illinois license should submit a written request to the Illinois Department of Agriculture using the following application form:  Reciprocity Request Form

Financial Responsibility Demonstration

A licensed commercial applicator must provide to the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture at the time of original licensing and license renewal evidence of financial responsibility protecting persons who may suffer personal injury or property damage or both as a result of the pesticide operation of the applicant in the form of a surety bond or a certificate of liability insurance.  Specific requirements can be found at 415 ILCS 60/10, paragraph 3.  Surety Bonds or Certificates of Insurance must be provided at the time of licensing and/or upon expiration of the current instrument.  Please be advised that it is the licensee’s and/or the company’s responsibility to provide this surety bond or certificate of insurance to the Department prior to the expiration of the instrument.

A certificate of insurance submitted to meet the financial responsibility demonstration requirement must contain the following:

  1. A 30-day cancellation notification in the event the insurance company should cancel the policy;
  2. Coverage of not less than $50,000 per person, $100,000 per occurrence bodily injury liability coverage, with an annual aggregate of not less than $500,000, and $50,000 per occurrence property damage liability, with an annual aggregate of not less than $50,000;  or in lieu thereof, a combined single limit of not less than $100,000 bodily injury and property damage liability combined, with an annual aggregate of not less than $500,000; and
     
  3. Each company location that is to be covered by the policy must be listed on the policy.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Department’s licensing section at 217/785-2427.  You can also fax us at 217/524-4882, or e-mail us at AGR.pesticide@illinois.gov

Duplicate Licenses, Secondary Licenses, and Change of Information

Licensees that have misplaced or destroyed their current license card may request the Department issue a duplicate license using the form below. In addition, licensees wishing to be licensed under a second company may submit a request to the Department using the Secondary license request form. Licensees may also submit changes of information to the Department with regard to their licensure using the appropriate form below.

Duplicate license request form

Secondary license request form

Change of information form

 
 

Important Addresses and Phone Numbers

Preregistration and Study Material Information -

University of Illinois Extension
Pesticide Safety Education Program
1201 S. Dorner Dr.
Urbana, IL  61801
(800) 644-2123 or (217) 244-2123
Fax (217) 244-3469
https://webs.extension.uiuc.edu/psep/training/

Licensing Information –

             
Illinois Department of Agriculture
Bureau of Environmental Programs
P.O. Box 19281
Springfield, IL 62794-9281
(217) 785-2427
Illinois Department of Agriculture
Bureau of Environmental Programs
2280 Bethany Road., Suite B
DeKalb, IL 60115-5305
(815) 787-5476
http://www.agr.state.il.us/Environment/Pesticide/pestuses.html

Structural Pest Control Information -

Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Environmental Health
525 W. Jefferson, 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL  62761
(217) 782-4674
http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/structuralpest.htm

 
 

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