Is becoming a rodent exterminator right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do rodent exterminators do?

Still unsure if becoming a rodent exterminator is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a rodent exterminator or another similar career!

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How to become a Rodent Exterminator

Becoming a rodent exterminator involves a combination of education, training, hands-on experience, and certification in pest control and management. Here’s an overview of the pathway to the career:

High School Diploma or Equivalent
Earn a high school diploma or equivalent. High school education provides a foundation in basic communication and organizational skills, and it lays the groundwork for further learning. Courses in biology, chemistry, and mathematics can be especially beneficial.

Post-secondary Education
While not always required, some employers may prefer candidates with post-secondary education, such as an associate degree, in fields related to pest control, entomology, biology, environmental science, or a related discipline.

Pest Control Training
Completing specialized courses in pest identification, biology, behavior, and management, as well as treatment methods, pesticide application, safety protocols, and integrated pest management (IPM) can provide valuable knowledge and skills necessary for becoming a successful rodent exterminator. Many professional associations, community colleges, technical schools, and vocational training centers offer pest control training programs and workshops that cover these topics.

Training programs are typically built around the six components of IPM:

  • Prevention – Preventing pest problems eliminates the need to take further action. For instance, storing wood in a dry place off the ground prevents carpenter ants from taking up residence near crops. Such measures may also mitigate the severity of any pest problems that do arise, which means less money spent on potentially harmful pesticides.
  • Identification – Because IPM relies on sustainable measures that target specific pests, it’s important to clearly identify the cause of an emerging problem. Using broad-spectrum pesticides may be quicker, but in addition to causing problems down the line, they’re unlikely to be effective.
  • Monitoring – Many IPM techniques rely on timing. Knowing when a pest’s natural predators are more active makes complementary control methods more effective. Regular inspections also reveal when a pest population is growing and where nests are located. In cases where chemical pesticides are needed, close monitoring will increase their efficiency.
  • Assessment – Taking action against pests may not always be needed. For instance, clover is considered a pest by some growers, but others appreciate the plant’s contributions to soil fertility. Determining the damage threshold makes resource management easier.
  • Planning – IPM relies on synchronizing various methods of pest control, depending on the particular type of pest. These methods include (1) cultural preventive methods such as introducing resistant varieties, pruning strategically, and altering plant nutrition; (2) physical methods such as putting up barriers, placing screens, and using mulches; (3) biological controls such as introducing beneficial organisms, predatory species, and microbial controls; and (4) pesticides chosen for compatibility with other methods.
  • Evaluation – Follow-up monitoring is a crucial part of pest management. Identify what worked and what didn’t and keep records for future reference. Adopting sustainable pest control methods is a good way to avoid pesticide overuse as well as inefficient resource usage.

An adjunct component of a pest control curriculum is communication and customer service, preparing students to effectively interact with clients, explain treatment options and procedures, address concerns and questions, provide advice on preventative measures, and ensure overall client satisfaction. Additionally, training programs cover professional and ethical standards, compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and maintaining confidentiality and respect for clients’ privacy and property at all times.

On-the-job Training and Mentorship
Regardless of the level of formal education that aspiring rodent exterminators undertake, on-the-job training and mentorship is an essential part of the path to working in the field. This can be obtained by working as an apprentice or assistant under the supervision of an experienced rodent exterminator or by gaining employment with a pest control company that offers practicum / apprenticeship positions.

In most jurisdictions, exterminators are required to be licensed and certified to apply pesticides and perform pest control services legally. Requirements for licensure and certification vary by state and country but generally involve passing exams, completing approved training programs, and meeting specific experience and education requirements.

Several US states offer specific pest control licenses, each with various tiers and specialty areas. For example, California has a Structural Pest Control License, while Florida offers a Pest Control Operator License. In New York State, technicians who apply pesticides for pest control are required to obtain a certification from the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC). These state-specific certifications validate knowledge of pest biology, treatment options, pesticide safety, and local pest control issues and regulatory compliance.

Consider specializing in specific areas of rodent control, such as wildlife control, integrated pest management (IPM), or green and eco-friendly pest control methods, to expand your expertise and marketability as a rodent exterminator. For a complete list of specializations in the field, please refer to the What does a Rodent Exterminator do? section in the career overview.

Certifications and Professional Organizations
There are certifications available for rodent exterminators that demonstrate proficiency in rodent identification, treatment, and management techniques. In most cases, the certification process includes a comprehensive exam and practical fieldwork. These credentials are typically offered by professional associations, industry organizations, and regulatory agencies. Here’s a sampling:

  • Certified Wildlife Control Professional (CWCP) – This certification is offered by the National Wildlife Control Operators Association (NWCOA) and is designed for wildlife control operators specializing in humane trapping, removal, and exclusion methods for various wildlife species, including rodents.
  • Certified Pest Control Technician (CPCT) – Offered by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the CPCT verifies expertise in pest biology, pest control safety, pesticide knowledge, and customer relations.
  • GreenPro Certification – This certification is also offered by the NPMA and is designed for pest control companies and technicians who meet high standards for environmentally-friendly and sustainable pest control practices, including green and eco-friendly rodent control methods.
  • Certified IPM Technician (CIT) – Offered by the Entomological Society of America (ESA), the CIT is geared towards professionals with one to four years of experience in pest control and there is no licensing requirement beyond being qualified to apply pesticides in the jurisdiction in which the candidate is employed.
  • Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) – The Associate Certified Entomologist certification, also awarded by the Entomological Society of America (ESA), primarily caters to pest management professionals. ACE certification demonstrates proven understanding of basic entomology, pest management, health impacts of pests, and the safe use of pesticides.
  • Board Certified Entomologist (BCE) – ESA’s BCE certification is designed for entomologists who have demonstrated expertise and proficiency in the field of entomology through education, research, and professional experience. While not specifically for pest control technicians, some insect exterminators may pursue BCE certification to enhance their professional credibility and expertise in pest identification and control.
  • Registered Environmental Health Specialist / Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS) – This credential is awarded by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), a non-profit organization that offers various resources, training programs, and networking opportunities for professionals working in environmental health, including pest control and rodent extermination.
  • National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association (NESDCA) – NESDCA is an organization that focuses on the training and certification of scent detection canine teams used in pest control, including rodent detection. The association sets standards for canine training, handler proficiency, and certification to ensure reliable and effective rodent pest detection services.

Continuing Education
To stay updated on the latest industry trends, technologies, regulations, and best practices in pest control and management, exterminators should participate in continuing education programs, workshops, and seminars offered by professional associations, government agencies, and educational institutions.

It is important to note that participation in continuing education programs is often required to maintain licensure and certification status.