Is becoming a wildlife 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 wildlife exterminators do?

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

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How to become a Wildlife Exterminator

Becoming a wildlife exterminator involves a combination of education, training, hands-on experience, and certification in wildlife 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, wildlife science and management, zoology, environmental science, ecology, or a related discipline.

Wildlife Control and Management Training
Many professional associations, community colleges, technical schools, and vocational training centers offer specialized training programs and workshops in areas related to this career. Topics covered commonly include:

  • Wildlife Management – Courses in wildlife identification, behavior, diseases, management, ecology, and conservation are key to understanding the principles and practices of limiting wildlife damage and protecting wildlife populations and habitats.
  • Animal Handling and Capture Techniques – Courses in animal handling, capture and removal techniques, and humane wildlife management practices ensure the safety and wellbeing of both humans and wildlife.
  • Pest Control and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – Courses in pest control, integrated pest management, and pesticide application provide knowledge and skills in identifying, managing, and controlling pest and wildlife populations using environmentally responsible methods.
  • Professional and Ethical Standards – Training programs also cover professional and ethical standards, compliance with applicable wildlife laws and regulations, and maintaining confidentiality and respect for clients’ privacy and property at all times.
  • Communication and Customer Service – Courses in this area prepare students to effectively interact with clients, explain nuisance wildlife issues and removal options and procedures, address concerns and questions, provide advice on preventative measures, and ensure overall client satisfaction.

One specialized training program is The National Wildlife Control Training Program (NWCTP), a cooperative venture of concerned professionals interested in wildlife damage management. The NWCTP uses a standard curriculum and develops competency-based national standards for the wildlife control industry. It presents information through an Integrated Wildlife Damage Management (IWDM) perspective, which includes the timely use of a variety of cost-effective, environmentally safe, and socially acceptable methods to reduce human-wildlife conflicts to a tolerable level. This approach balances concerns about safety, the humane treatment of wildlife, practicality, landowner rights, the protection of wildlife populations and habitats, and ethical, legal, financial, and aesthetic issues.

On-the-job Training and Mentorship
Regardless of the level of formal education that aspiring wildlife 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 wildlife exterminator or by gaining employment with a wildlife control agency, wildlife removal company, wildlife rehabilitation center, or pest control company that offers practicum / apprenticeship positions.

Several US states require wildlife exterminators to be licensed to practise. Licensing requirements may vary by jurisdiction but often include passing an exam and meeting specific education and experience requirements.

In many US states wildlife exterminators must obtain a pest control operator license. These licenses generally have 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 insect control are required to obtain a certification from the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC).

Some states may also require or recognize certification from professional organizations, such as the National Wildlife Control Operators Association (NWCOA) or the National Trappers Association (NTA), as a qualification for licensure.

Consider specializing in specific areas of wildlife control, such as residential, commercial, urban, rural, or species-specific to expand your expertise and marketability as a wildlife exterminator. For a complete list of specializations in the field, please refer to the What does a Wildlife Exterminator do? section in the career overview.

Certifications and Professional Organizations
There are certifications available for wildlife exterminators that demonstrate proficiency in wildlife identification, removal, and management techniques. In most cases, the certification process includes a comprehensive exam and practical fieldwork in the areas of wildlife biology, behavior, identification, and control. 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, handling, removal, exclusion, and wildlife damage control for various wildlife species.
  • Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator (CWR) – Offered by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC), this certification is designed for individuals who provide care, rehabilitation, and management for sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife. The CWR examination covers various aspects of wildlife rehabilitation, including animal husbandry, nutrition, health care, and release criteria.
  • Certified Wildlife Biologist (CWB) – This credential is offered by The Wildlife Society (TWS), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the science and practice of wildlife management and conservation. The CWB designation is designed to recognize individuals who have met specific education and experience requirements in the field of wildlife biology and management.
  • 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.

In addition to these certifying bodies, the following organizations also support the wildlife management and control community, providing advocacy, access to resources, and platforms for networking, information exchange and collaboration, and continuing education and professional development:

  • National Trappers Association (NTA)
  • National Pest Management Association (NPMA)

Continuing Education
To stay updated on the latest industry trends, technologies, regulations, and best practices in wildlife management and removal, 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.