Unless otherwise noted, this information refers to pesticide applicator licenses regulated by Texas agricultural law and regulations. Information contained on this page comes directly from the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Structural or Ag License?
In 1997, the Legislature amended the Structural Pest Control Act to give some applicators the option of licensing with Structural Pest Control Service or Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). As of Sept. 1, 2007, the SPCB became the Structural Pest Control Service, a part of TDA. A person who performs pest control work on growing plants, trees, shrubs, turf, other horticultural plants or rights-of-way can license with TDA in the Ag or structural categories. The applicators follow different laws and regulations.
Additional requirements for an Ag 3A license:
- Employed by a political subdivision, cemetery or government-owned golf course;
- Hold a TDA commercial, noncommercial or NCPS license;
- Comply with annual continuing education required by TDA.
- Applicators who work for public or municipal golf course and apply pesticides on turf, trees or shrubs can license with either agency.
A person may not purchase or use a restricted-use or state-limited-use pesticide or regulated herbicides unless the person is:
- licensed as a commercial, noncommercial or noncommercial political subdivision applicator in the use categories covering the proposed pesticide use; or
- an individual acting under the direct supervision of a licensed applicator.
The Structural Pest Control Act (Chapter 1951 of the Occupations Code) requires licensing of businesses and individuals that perform structural pest control for hire. Additionally, employees of units of state government who apply pesticides as part of their job duties, and persons performing pest control at an apartment building, day-care center, hospital, nursing home, hotel, motel, or lodge, warehouse, food-processing establishment (other than a restaurant, retail food, or food service establishment), or school must be licensed. Structural pest control includes but is not limited to pests that may infest parks, buildings or structures and adjacent areas, industrial plants, streets, docks, railroad cars, trucks, ships or airplanes. Structural pest control includes the following activities for compensation:
- identifying infestations,
- making inspection reports,
- providing recommendations,
- submitting estimates or bids,
- performing services to prevent, control or eliminate infestations, or
- advertising such services
- An Ag commercial applicator operates a business or is an employee of a business that applies restricted-use and state-limited-use pesticides or regulated herbicides to the land of another for hire or compensation.
- An Ag noncommercial applicator is a person required to license who does not qualify as a commercial applicator.
- An Ag noncommercial political subdivision (NCPS) applicator is employed by a political subdivision of the state of Texas or of a federal agency operating in Texas.
- A Structural commercial applicator operates a business or is an employee of a business that offers pest control services for hire or compensation.
- A Structural noncommercial applicator is a person not affiliated with a business that performs structural pest control for hire but is required to license because they perform pest control services.
Structural License Categories
- Pest control – Inspection and/or control of pests in and around homes, businesses and industries. This includes insect pests or pest animals which may invade homes, restaurants, stores and other buildings, attacking their contents or furnishings or being a general nuisance, but do not normally attack the building itself, as for example, roaches, silverfish, ants, flies, mosquitoes, rats, mice, etc.
- Termite control – Inspection and/or control of termites, beetles or other wood destroying organisms by means other than fumigation in buildings, including homes, warehouses, stores, docks or other structures.
- Lawn and ornamental – Inspection and/or control of pests of ornamental plants, shade trees and lawns, in a park or adjacent to a residence, business establishment, industrial plant, institutional building or street.
- Structural fumigation – Inspection and/or control of pests through fumigation of structures not primarily intended to contain food, feed or grains.
- Commodity fumigation – Inspection and/or control through fumigation of commodities and/or structures normally used to contain them. A TDA agricultural pesticide applicator license may be used for fumigation of raw agricultural commodities.
- Weed Control – Inspection and/or control of weeds around homes and industrial environments.
- Wood Preservation – Pest control that involves the addition of preservatives to wood to extend the life of wood products by protecting them from damage caused by insects, fungi and marine borers. Such wood products will include, but not be limited to, crossties, poles, and posts. This category is only for use by those persons using wood preservatives that may be classified as restricted-use.
Licensing Requirements for TDA Ag License
To get a TDA Ag 3A commercial, noncommercial or NCPS license to apply pesticides to lawns, trees and shrubs for compensation or hire, one must:
- Pass the TDA general exam,
- Pass TDA’s laws and regulations exam,
- Pass TDA’s ornamental plant and turf pest control exam.
Licensing Requirements for TDA Structural License
- Have held a technician license for at least six months and been employed with duties including pest control services under the supervision of a licensed certified applicator for at least 12 of the last 24 months;
- Have a degree in a biological science* and furnish an official copy of their college transcript; or
- Have 12 months verifiable technical field experience in the past 24 months from another occupation. The applicant must submit a signed and notarized statement from their previous employer detailing technical field experience as it relates to pest control.
- For noncommercial applicators only, complete a SPCS approved noncommercial applicator training course.
- For a list of pesticide applicator trainers follow this link (external website)
Exam Charges for TDA Ag License
- General exam and laws and regulations exam are free.
- NCPS applicators that use the license solely in the course of their employment are exempt from exam fees.
Exam Charges for TDA Structural License
- Submit a completed Application for Exam and Certified Applicator License.
- Submit $50 for the general standards exam and $50 for each category exam.
- The certified applicator license fee of $85.00 may be pre-paid or you will be billed after you pass the necessary exams.
- You will receive notification of test date and site.
- If you fail an exam in a category, you must skip one test date before retaking that specific category exam. You may take the general exam each time it is offered.
- The deadline dates are final and no exceptions will be made. Faxed applications will not be accepted.
Study materials for license exams may be purchased from Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Obtain order form D-1405 from a county Extension office or:
P.O. Drawer FS, College Station, Texas 77841 Phone: (979)845-1099 Fax: (979)845-6251
TDA offices offer monthly testing for the Ag Licenses at the TDA regional offices. Applicants must be able to read and comprehend the subject matter; oral tests are not given. A passing grade is 70 or above. There is no test fee for the general or laws and regulations exams. NCPS applicators are exempt from category exam fees.
Testing for prospective SPCS license holders are done on a quarterly basis in regional locations. You must submit an application for commercial, non-commercial or technician license at least 30 days prior to when you would like to take the exam. The license application requires for each individual to go through a background check before an exam can be scheduled. To find a list of exams you can go to the TDA website (external website)
Noncommercial Political Subdivision License
- Fee $12 annually
- Expires annually on the anniversary date on which it was issued or renewed.
- Requires five continuing education units annually.
Noncommercial Structural License
- Annual renewal fee is $80
- The license expires annually and expiration coincides with the expiration of the business license under which the applicator license is issued. For school districts, this would fall under the first person who is licensed for the school district.
- CEU requirements are for the calendar year (Jan. 1-Dec.31). For example, if you renew at any time in 2011, you must have taken your CEUs during calendar year 2010.
- Applicators do not have to get CEUs during the first year in which their license is issued.
- Applicators must earn two CEUs in general training and one in each category in which the applicator is certified. Of the two general category units, at least one must be in federal and state laws, pesticide safety, environmental protection or integrated pest management.
- No course may be repeated for credit within the same recertification year.
- Only one CEU each year may be obtained through a self-study or Internet course
Test Transfer between TDA Ag License and SPCS License holders
- The general test taken with one agency is accepted by the other.
- An applicator with a SPCS license must take TDA’s Ag laws and regulations test, which is free.
- An applicator that has both category certification in SPCS lawn and ornamental and weed can transfer to TDA’s Ag lawn and ornamental and right-of-way categories.
- A person certified in SPCS’s weed category can transfer to TDA’s right-of-way category.
General Supervision Requirements for TDA Ag License holders
- A licensed applicator may supervise the application of restricted-use and state limited- use pesticides and regulated herbicides if the label does not prohibit such action.
- The licensed commercial, noncommercial or NCPS applicator and the person under the direct supervision of the licensed commercial or noncommercial applicator must both work at the same local office unless the licensee is physically present during the application.
- If there is a discrepancy in supervision requirements, the greatest degree of supervision shall apply.
- A licensed applicator may not supervise an applicator whose license is under suspension or revocation.
- The licensed applicator does not need to be physically present during the application.
- The licensed applicator is responsible for the actions of the applicators under his/her supervision.
Training Requirements for Employees of Political Subdivisions
Annually and prior to making the first application, an unlicensed employee must be trained in the specific use of the pesticide applied. The training requirements may be satisfied by either:
a) the unlicensed employee obtaining 5 CEUs in accordance with the continuing education required for commercial and noncommercial applicators, or
b) the unlicensed employee is trained on the appropriate laws and regulations pertaining to pesticide use, the label information for the use of all pesticides that are applied and pesticide safety training.
A record of training received or CEUs obtained by the unlicensed employee must be maintained for two years and made available to the department for inspection upon request. The record may be either a certificate of completion of training or CEUs obtained or on a form prescribed by the department.
For More Information You May Contact TDA Directly
Texas Department of Agriculture P.O. Box 12847, Austin, Texas 78711 1-800-TELL-TDA or (512) 463-7622
For the hearing impaired: Relay Texas 1-800-735-2988 (voice) or 1-800-735-2989 (TDD)
Structural Pest Control Service 512-305-8250 or 866-918-4481 www.TexasAgriculture.gov/spcs/