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Massachusetts Pesticide License: How to get certified as a pesticide applicator in MA

December 15, 2023 9 min. read
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If you’re thinking about how to get started in a lucrative trade with plenty of room for advancement, getting your pesticide license in Massachusetts is a great idea. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Massachusetts is among the  highest-paying states for pest control workers $51,230. And since the industry is also growing on a national scale, with a projected 3% increase in employment of pest control workers from 2022 to 2032, there’s never been a better time to jump in. 

In this pest control guide, we cover all you need to know about getting your Massachusetts pesticide license and starting work in the pest control industry:

If you’re serious about getting your Massachusettts pest control license, make sure you bookmark this page. This way, you can return to this guide if you have any questions or are ready to start your own pest control business.

Do you need a pesticide license in Massachusetts?

Yes, anyone using pesticides in public spaces or private areas where people live or gather is required to have a valid pesticide license or certification. These licenses and certifications are issued by the Pesticide Program via the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). 

The MDAR regulates general- and restricted-use pesticides for:

  • Agricultural pest control activities, such as raising agricultural commodities
  • Non-agricultural pest control activities, such as exterminating, lawn care, landscaping, and ornamental tree care
  • Workers who perform pest control activities, such as custodians, office building groundskeepers, apartment building landlords, condominium maintenance workers, and golf course superintendents

Types of pesticide licenses in Massachusetts

There are four types of pesticide licenses or certifications that individuals can apply for in Massachusetts:

License/Certification TypeDescription


Applicator License (Core)


License holder can apply general-use pesticides (GUPs) on the property of an employer (agricultural commodities excluded) as part of existing job duties or be hired to apply GUPs on the property of another person or entity.

This license is intended for those who have never held a Massachusetts pesticide license or who had a license that expired five or more years ago.

This document is usually obtained by individuals working in Exterminating, Lawn Care, Landscape and Ornamental Tree Care Industries—not agriculture.

This also includes individuals working not for hire such as office building groundskeeper, apartment building landlord, custodian, condominium maintenance personnel, golf course superintendent.
Private Certification (Agriculture)Certification holder can apply restricted-use pesticides (RUPs) on farmland owned or rented by themselves or their employer for the purpose of raising agricultural commodities, such as fruits, vegetables, and other field crops.

This document is usually obtained by individuals working as farmers and growers of produce.
Commercial CertificationCertification holder can apply RUPs on the property of an employer (agricultural commodities excluded) as part of existing job duties or be hired to apply RUPs on the property of another person or entity.

This license is intended for those who want to upgrade their Applicator License (Core).

Similar to the Applicator (Core) License, this document is usually obtained by individuals working in the Exterminating, Lawn Care, Landscape and Tree Care Industries.
Dealer LicenseLicense holder can engage in selling RUPs. 

This document is obtained by individuals who are employed by distributors and dealers of pesticides.

Be aware that individuals must submit pesticide license/certification applications. Companies are not allowed to apply on behalf of applicants.

If you are a government employee  intending to apply dry formulations of mosquito larvicides to catch Basins or storm drains you must obtain a Catch Basin Permit. We will not cover Catch Basin Permits in the remainder of this article. 

Massachusetts pesticide license requirements

All license/certification types require completing the applications and passing the necessary exams. However, there are differences in the MDAR requirements for work experience and insurance:  

License/Certification TypeRequirements
Applicator License (Core)Work experience: None

Insurance: Must secure comprehensive general liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage
Private Certification (Agriculture)Work experience: None

Insurance: None
Commercial CertificationWork experience: Must have held an Applicator License (Core) for at least two years within the last five years

Insurance: Must secure comprehensive general liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage
Dealer LicenseWork experience: None

Insurance: None

Note: Massachusetts state law mandates that you carry your official license or permit with you at all times when using pesticides. 

How do I get a pesticide license in Massachusetts? (steps)

Getting your pesticide license in Massachusetts, like most places in the U.S., is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is follow the steps outlined by the MDAR for the license/certification type you wish to get:  

  1. Order the study materials for your desired license/certification type online or by filling out an order form on pages 7–8 of the exam bulletin and mailing it in with payment
    1. If you intend to get the Applicator License (Core), you can also apply for an optional three-day virtual workshop to prepare you for the pesticide applicator exam—see page 9 of the exam bulletin for details
  2. Register and pay for the exam in the EEA ePLACE online portal and finalize payment to Everblue Online Training for exam administration
  3. Complete the exam using the Everblue online system
  4. Obtain exam results from EEA ePLACE
    Note: Passing the exam doesn’t mean you’re licensed or allowed to use pesticides.
  5. Within EEA ePLACE, use your exam reference identification number to apply for an MDAR Authorization
    1. Submit your license application
    2. Provide proof of insurance, if required
    3. Pay all relevant licensing fees

After MDAR evaluates and approves your license application, you’ll receive your new license via email. 

Massachusetts pesticide license exam

Once you have registered and paid the applicable exam fee through the EEA ePLACE online portal, you have 120 days to complete the exam. You must ensure that the computer you use to take the exam has a working camera and microphone, as all exam sessions are recorded by the Everblue system to monitor for cheating.

Here are some details about each exam:

License/Certification TypeExam Details
Applicator License (Core)125 questions 
2 hours to write
70% (87/125) to pass

Study Materials:
• Core Manual w/Supplement 
• Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act
• Massachusetts Pesticide Regulations
Optional: Applicator License Training Workshop
Private Certification (Agriculture)125 questions
2.5 hours to write
75% (94/125) to pass

Study materials: 
• Core Manual w/Supplement 
• Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act
• Massachusetts Pesticide Regulations 
• Private Certification Manual
Commercial Certification125 questions
2.5 hours to write
75% (94/125) to pass

Study materials: 
• Core Manual w/Supplement 
• Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act
• Massachusetts Pesticide Regulations 
• Commercial Certification Manual
Dealer License125 questions
2 hours to write
75% (94/125) to pass

Study materials: 
• Core Manual w/Supplement 
• Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act
• Massachusetts Pesticide Regulations
• Dealer’s Study Package

For more information about the exams, see the exam bulletin.

Does Massachusetts reciprocate pesticide licenses?

Reciprocity agreements let license holders from out of state apply directly, or more quickly, for an equivalent license in another state. 

Massachusetts does have a reciprocity avenue for licensing on a case-by-case basis. To do this, you will need to submit proof of successful completion of all license/certification requirements to the MDAR. From there, the MDAR will assess your qualifications and determine whether you meet the criteria to waive the exam process. 

How much does a pesticide license cost in Massachusetts?

Depending on which type of license/certification you want to get, a pesticide license in Massachusetts can cost anywhere from $300 to over $1,000 for initial licensing. The exact amount will vary based on which study materials you need—some study materials can be downloaded for free, while others require an additional investment. 

License/Certification StepFees
Exam registrationApplicator License (Core): $75 
Private Certification: $125 
Commercial Certification: $125 
Dealer License: $125
Everblue online exam registration$25
Initial license/certificationApplicator License (Core): $100
Private Certification: $100
Commercial Certification: $150
Dealer License: $300
License/certification renewalApplicator License (Core): $100
Private Certification: $100
Commercial Certification: $150
Dealer License: $300
Basic study materials$82–$95
Private certification manualsRanges from $6–$43 each—may need multiple
Commercial certification manualsRanges from $7–$135 each—may need multiple
Dealer license materials$2
Optional virtual workshop$170 (+$10 for payment by check)

For more information about licensing/certification fees and specific study material costs, see pages 7—8 of the exam bulletin.

Massachusetts pesticide license renewal

All pesticide licenses/certifications must be renewed annually through the EEA ePLACE online portal. Additionally, every three-year period, license/certification holders are required to either retake exams or accrue continuing education credits (CECs). 

Here is information about the license expiration dates and CECs needed for each license/certification type:

License/Certification TypesRenewal
Applicator License (Core)License expires on December 31st

CECs to maintain your license: 6 contact hours* 
Private Certification (Agriculture)Certification expires on December 31st

CECs to maintain your certification: 12 contact hours* per category
Commercial CertificationCertification expires on December 31st

CECs to maintain your certification: 12 contact hours* per category
Dealer LicenseLicense expires on February 28th or 29th

CECs to maintain your license: 3 contact hours*

* 1 contact hour = 50 minutes of continuous learning

MDAR provides a list of approved Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education (PACE) programs for earning CECs that you can reference.

What happens if my pesticide license expires?

If you think your pesticide license may have expired, you need to stop all work immediately. It’s illegal to apply pesticides and other restricted-use chemicals without the proper certification in Massachusetts, and doing so can result in fines of up to $25,000 or potential jail time.

To determine whether your license/certification has expired, use the MDAR online lookup tool or contact the department by phone or email for help. 

How to start a pest control business in Massachusetts

After you’ve built up your experience as a pesticide applicator, you’re ready to take the next step in securing your financial future: starting your own business. To start a pest control business in Massachusetts, you’ll want to check out the website for the Massachusetts Office of Business Development. This valuable resource will guide you toward training and counseling and walk you through the necessary steps to start your business, including:

  • Choosing a business structure
  • Writing a business plan
  • Securing business financing
  • Paying state and local business taxes

There are also some practical considerations for starting your own pest control business, including naming your business, marketing and selling your services, choosing the right apps, and getting business software

Does a pesticide license in Massachusetts increase your earning potential?

Yes, getting your pesticide applicator license in Massachusetts increases your earning potential as it allows you to apply restricted-use chemicals that are necessary for pest management. 

The average annual income for pesticide applicators in Massachusetts is $ 51,230, but top earners in the state are bringing in as much as $62,390. With time and experience, your annual income can grow, too, and you can earn even more if you opt to start your own pest control business.

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