Becoming A Pest Control Operator

Pest Control TechnicianIn an economy where jobs can be hard to find, sometimes it’s worth it to consider jobs you may not know much about. One job you may not have considered is that of a pest control operator. In 2013, Fox Business named the pest management industry as one of the top 8 jobs to ‘escape the office’ and with good reason. The pest management industry is in constant demand, which is great for job security. Here is some more information that can help you decide whether this career path is right for you.

What is a Pest Control Operator?

A pest control operator is also called a PCO or, more commonly, an exterminator. They use the equipment and preventive measures at their disposal to control infestations or to eradicate animals and bugs from various locations, such as homes or commercial buildings. A PCO may work for a pest control company or be an independent contractor, hired individually to rid a location of pests. Some companies may have an extra interest in controlling their pest population – food manufacturing companies, for example – and they may even employ a full-time pest control operator to ensure their locations always remain pest-free.

What Kind of Pests Do They Deal With?

CockroachThis varies by location. A few of the most common pests you might be asked to deal with as a PCO are:

        • Spiders
        • Termites
        • Ants
        • Cockroaches
        • Bedbugs
        • Fleas
        • Rodents
        • Bee hives
        • Wasp nests

Not all pests are insects, however. Pest control operators are also called upon to deal with rodent infestations like mice and rats. On occasion, they may even have to rid a building of birds or snakes that have taken up residence in a building.

Pest InspectionRoutine House Inspections

Typically, a homeowner or business owner will contact a pest control operator to get an inspection. They may do this if they have seen pests in the building, if their neighbors have pest problems, or simply a routine basis to ensure the building is clean.

During these inspections, the PCO will examine the building and its surrounding yard. Using special tools designed for pest control, they must make sure to check areas known as good pest hiding places, such as attics, basements, foundations, and beneath trees and shrubs. After the inspection, the PCO will usually give the building owner a report detailing any concerned or infested areas, as well as a recommended course of action.

After the Inspection

If the building owner opts to go ahead and eradicate pests in infested areas, the PCO may ask them to sign a contract if required for the job. They will then make an appointment for a follow-up and return to the home or business to do the job of removing the pests from the area. Occasionally toxic materials are used as part of this job, and in this case, residents may be asked to leave the premises or segregate their pets to make sure nobody is accidentally hurt during the process. Some companies also offer organic pest control treatments in addition to standard treatments which may or may not contain toxins depending on the treatment needed. These organic options may be useful in situations where pets, children or outdoor gardens are involved.

There are many methods of dealing with pests, such as setting traps, destroying nests, spraying the infested area, and sealing up entry points. If these methods do not work and the pests stay or return to the area, some pest control companies offer a money-back guarantee or return inspections.

Exterminator sprayingBecoming a Pest Control Operator

Most of the time, a college degree is not necessary to become a PCO, although a high school diploma or its equivalent is usually required. The most important part of the process of becoming a PCO is training. In some areas of the country, pest control operators will be required to take specific training programs, like these for example, and apply for a pest control license from their respective state before they are able to work for a company or start their own business. This does not necessarily mean you need to have a license before you are hired. Some companies may hire you and then work with you to provide that training with the understanding that once you get your license, you will continue to work for them as a licensed pest control operator.

Even in jurisdictions where you do not need to have a pest control license, training is still a vital part of the job. Not only does this allow you to do your job effectively, removing pests completely and preventing them from returning, but it ensures that you do your job safely. Pest control operators often work with toxic substances, and companies want to make sure their workers handle the toxins properly. Neglecting that can endanger the health of the humans or pets involved, not to mention the possibility of polluting the building’s air and water.

If you are seeking a job as a pest control operator, your best bet is to contact your local pest control company to ask them about the application process. If they are seeking new PCOs, you can ask them about the training process and if you need to be licensed before applying. They can tell you what you need to know to get your foot in the door as a pest control operator.

You may never have considered the possibility of becoming a PCO, but with a little training, you could be well on your way to a promising new career path.


Anthony Ball is a Content Marketing Manager with Bulwark Exterminating, an industry leader in providing high quality pest control service. Bulwark is fully operational in nine states, including thirteen major cities. While Bulwark provides pest extermination for common pests like ants, roaches, crickets and spiders; the company's differentiating aspect is great personalized service. Bulwark uses the finest and most effective products in the world to solve common pest problems.

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