You may have stepped on a few cockroaches or even chased a mouse out of your house, but have you ever seriously considered controlling pests for a living? A career as a pest control specialist offers many benefits, including working independently, interacting with people and working outdoors. The pest control industry also offers jobs that are recession-resistant, meaning that insects and rodents don’t change their behavior based on the economy. They continue to endanger health and property as they’ve done for millions of years. Many commercial industries like health care, food service, food processing and others are required by law to maintain pest control standards – regardless of the economy.
Today’s reputable pest control specialists are responsible for much more than just spraying for bugs. They also need to learn insect behavior to diagnose and treat a pest problem. Instead of treating for bugs after they’ve invaded your home, technicians implement an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to controlling pests. This approach stops insects or rodents from entering a house by patching exterior holes or eliminating a pests’ food source. A pest control specialist protects customers’ most valuable assets – home and health.
The requirements to become a pest control specialist vary from state to state, but here are a few general things you should know about a career in pest control.
It is important to consider the work environment before committing to a career in pest control. Technicians must be able to recognize a wide range of pests, and the signs of an infestation. Finding and treating infestations often requires access to small and dark areas, like basements, attics and crawl spaces.
Certified pest applicators work under the supervision of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). FIFRA was enacted to ensure that consumers receive effective products that are labeled clearly and properly. It provides the EPA with the authority to oversee the sale and use of pesticides.
Each state has its own policies on regulation, and part of the law and regulations will address the licensing and certification of exterminators. Some states require training and testing to become registered or to obtain an initial license. Before seeking training, aspiring pest control specialists should learn about the licensing and registration requirements in their state by contacting the appropriate regulatory agency or the industry association for the state. Candidates should also verify that any potential employer carries all the proper licenses required by the state.
Working for a larger pest control business will likely mean more benefits and career opportunities, but most pest control specialists receive medical coverage, uniforms, paid vacations and access to ongoing education.
Generally, English literacy is enough to be considered for a career in pest control, although some companies require a high school diploma or GED. Also, pest applicators must be at least 18 years old.
As technicians progress in the pest control industry, science and language skills become even more important. The Entomological Society of America Certification Corporation offers two continuing education certificates. The Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) is geared toward those with hands-on training and professional development in the field of structural pest management. The Board Certified Entomologist (BCE) is geared toward those who are formally educated in entomology.
Respectable pest control companies require a criminal background check, initial and ongoing drug screenings, safe driving records, an ability to perform some physical activity and perhaps other requirements to ensure customer and employee safety. For example, some larger companies employ GPS systems to ensure that employees comply with safe driving policies and to manage fuel costs and route efficiency.
Many states require new hires to complete pest control training programs before becoming a pest control specialist. This process often requires candidates to pass written examinations before becoming licensed. Some states require an oral exam, and still others require practical examinations. These tests cover a variety of pest knowledge, including the ability to diagnose situations properly and prescribe appropriate pest control solutions.
Industry leader Orkin (Rollins, Inc.) is well known for an intense internal training program through their self-run “Orkin University”. According to the Orkin Careers website:
“Orkin University gives employees the skills and knowledge they need to please customers, maintain the company’s competitive advantage and achieve their career goals. Training is provided through classroom instruction, online training and satellite transmissions to our branch locations.”
In order to teach advance training techniques, Orkin has built the Rollins Learning Center. The center is equipped with a fully functioning model home, bakery, grocery store, hotel room, hospital room, warehouse, and commercial kitchen. Orkin specialists gain advance pest control experience by completing the Certified Field Trainer Workshop, Bird Workshop or the Advanced Termite Course – all taught at the center. The simulated service environments at the Rollins Learning Center also serve as production sets for many of Orkin’s initial and ongoing training videos.
Orkin also has partnered with several universities like Texas A&M and Purdue to offer a number of online correspondence courses covering termites, food safety and high end commercial pest control.
Finding a Career
There are a number of online job sites that list careers in pest control, and the industry operates in every state in the U.S. As one of the industry’s largest companies, Orkin has hundreds of branches across North America. For more information, you can visit the Orkin Careers website (http://careers.orkin.com). Other resources include the Orkin Monster.com web page (http://company.monster.com/roll/) , the Orkin CareerBuilder page (http://www.careerbuilder.com/Jobs/Company/C330Q73NLZXWQ06M12/Orkin-Pest-Control/) and the Orkin Women for Hire (http://www.womenforhire.com/advice/10th_anniversary_sponsors/orkin ).