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What license do I need to start a pest control business?

GorillaDesk Staff

What license do I need to start a pest control business?

Somehow, getting your business license just doesn’t sound as fun as getting your driver’s license did when you were 16, does it?

While a pest control business license may lack the glitz and glamour of driving yourself to high school for the first time, it’s an exciting time nonetheless. You’re about to start a pest control company, which will allow you to help future clients by creating safer, healthier spaces.

Right now, you’re likely in the middle of a maze of legal requirements, eager to navigate your way through licensing so you can open up shop. Understanding the types of licenses you need and their associated costs is key for aspiring pest control entrepreneurs.

If the process seems overwhelming, don’t fear—we have your back. In this guide, we’ll cover the essential licenses, certifications, and insurance coverage you’ll need to successfully kickstart your pest control venture.

What licenses do you need to start a pest control business?

The specific licenses your company needs to operate might vary based on your location, the types of services you offer, and the pests you plan to manage.

This guide covers the fundamental licenses and certifications that a pest control business owner will likely need to operate legally and effectively.

If you’re looking for more tailored information, check out some of our state-specific licensing guides:

Pest control operator license

As a business owner, the number one pest control license you’ll want to research is the pest control operator license.  

These licenses are usually necessary for individuals or companies that offer professional pest control services. They can cover a range of pest management tasks, such as inspections, treatments, and ongoing maintenance.

The cost of a pest control operator license

The cost of these licenses varies widely across different states. 

In South Carolina, for example, a commercial pest control operator license starts at $50 per applicant. In California, there’s a mandated exam to become a structured pest control operator, and the fee per license is $65.

To get the exact cost of your pest control operator license, we recommend Googling, “cost of pest control operator license in [your state].”

Business license

In addition to a pest control operator license, you’ll also need a general business license to operate legally. Your local government or municipality will issue this license and confirm that your business complies with local regulations and tax requirements.

As with all licenses, qualifications vary by state. Most states require an applicant to be 18 or older and pass some sort of certification exam to get a pest control business license.

Make sure to check out your state’s Department of Agriculture website to learn more about the state laws and requirements for obtaining a pest control license.

The cost of a business license

Again, you’ll want to verify the cost of this type of license in your state. 

In Florida, for example, new business licenses and renewals every two years cost $300. In Arizona, new pest control licenses and yearly renewals cost $55.

Pesticide applicator certification

Some areas require a specific certification for individuals to handle and apply pesticides safely. The license may group based on how you’ll be using pesticides and where you live, either by the type of pesticide application (such as ground, aquatic, or aerial) or the type of targeted pest (such as general, agricultural, or ornamental). 

This certification involves training on pesticide use, safety precautions, environmental protection, and proper application techniques. 

The cost of a pesticide applicator license

The costs and requirements to obtain and maintain a pesticide applicator certification can vary by state—and some states require ongoing education classes, while others don’t. 

In Massachusetts, there’s a $25 online fee and an exam fee that ranges from $75–$125, depending on the type of registration you need. On top of that, you’ll need to pay a $100–$150 certification fee and yearly renewal fees of $100–$150.

Local permits

Depending on where you live and what types of pest control services you plan to offer, you might need additional licenses or permits, which you can usually acquire through specialty exams. These permits could include those for fumigation, wildlife control, or certain pests. 

For example, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service requires a Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) 526 permit to move interstate or environmentally release plant pests, which many pest control technicians will encounter in their work.

Some other common specialization licenses include:

  • Agricultural pest control license: This license addresses the management of pests that impact crops, livestock, and agricultural production. Licensed agricultural pest control experts can specialize in crop protection and integrated pest management for farms, orchards, vineyards, and livestock facilities.
  • Public health pest control license: This license aims to control pests like mosquitoes and ticks that pose threats to public health and safety. Licensed professionals can work in public health departments or agencies to oversee pest control in parks and recreational areas.
  • Wood-destroying organism (WDO) inspector license: A WDO license is specific to termites, wood-boring beetles, and carpenter ants. This license is necessary if you plan to treat structures with damage from these pests.

The costs of local and special permits

Some special permits—like the PPQ 526—are free. You just have to create a profile online. 

In North Carolina, an aircraft inspection license, which allows you to disseminate pesticides via drones or other aircraft, costs $25. Special exams, like seed treatment or wood treatment, cost $20 each. 

In Kansas, chemigation requires a special permit for $75 for the first well and $15 per additional well. You’ll also need to pay a $25 equipment operator fee.

No two states require the same certifications or charge the same fees, so we always recommend checking your state’s Department of Agriculture website.

What types of insurance should you have?

While every pest control business owner hopes for smooth sailing, operating in the pest control market comes with inherent risks. Because of this, you’ll need insurance coverage to protect your business, employees, tools, and customers.

Here are the primary types of insurance to consider and their average costs:

General liability coverage 

General liability insurance covers common risks—namely basic third-party risks. These include claims for you and your company involving bodily injury, property damage, and advertising injury that have resulted from your operations. 

The average cost of this insurance for pest control businesses ranges from $500 to $1,500 per year. Total cost factors include location and what’s covered.

Professional liability coverage

Also known as errors and omissions insurance, professional liability protects your pest control business from claims related to professional mistakes, negligence, or inadequate services—for instance, if an exterminator makes a mistake that causes financial harm and ends in a lawsuit. 

The average cost for professional liability insurance ranges from around $500 to $2,000 annually.

Fumigation coverage

If your company offers fumigation services, you’ll need specialized insurance to cover potential damages or injuries caused by fumigation processes. 

The cost of fumigation insurance depends on factors like coverage limits, business size, and offered services. It can range anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year.

3 other assets to invest in to thrive in your first year

When you start a pest control company, there are many requirements to abide by and obstacles to overcome. But there are also plenty of lucrative possibilities and tools to help you market your business, build and track your customer base, and manage your day-to-day operations.

Here are a few of our recommendations to get started:

1. GorillaDesk

With GorillaDesk, you can keep track of all your technicians’ schedules in one place. (Source)

GorillaDesk, a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that specializes in field operation management makes starting a successful pest control company easier. This tool offers easy scheduling, routing optimization, invoicing, and customer communication features in one easy-to-navigate platform.

With pest control software like GorillaDesk, you can say goodbye to using printed schedules, index cards, and messy piles of paper to track where technicians are or if a customer is late paying an invoice.

Instead, you’ll provide your clients with a professional experience from the get-go. Scheduling software helps you better manage your agenda, ensuring that technicians arrive at appointments on time. Invoicing software includes high-quality invoice templates and the ability to send invoices in seconds. And field service CRM features allow you to capture, store, and reference customer data to provide a personalized experience every time. 

GorillaDesk makes it easy to provide reliable services and grow your reputation with current and potential customers.

2. WordPress

As a pest control business, your website is perhaps your most powerful online marketing tool. When optimized, your website will draw in new leads, provide a place for customers to book services, and display positive reviews.

WordPress has a variety of pre-made templates and themes to choose from. (Source)

Using WordPress, a content management system, will help you create a professional website that’s easy for clients and potential customers to navigate. The system offers a wide range of customizable themes and plug-ins designed specifically for pest control marketing. A few plug-in examples you might want to use include:

  • Customer reviews
  • Service listings
  • Contact forms

WordPress websites are also SEO-friendly, mobile-responsive, and scalable, which takes an additional load off your marketing plate and makes building and managing your new business’s online presence infinitely easier.

3. Training and education programs for in-office admins

When you first launch your pest control business, you might be able to handle administrative tasks on your own. But if you want to focus your efforts on networking, marketing, or fieldwork, hiring someone to address your in-office admin needs can be a major help.

The main skills you’ll want to look for and develop in this person include organizational skills, office software proficiency, and customer service experience. You’ll also want to provide tailored training for your business’s software systems.

Here are a few places to start:

  • LinkedIn Learning: LinkedIn Learning offers various courses for a variety of software—which helps your team build multiple skills rather than learn just one tool. Courses like “Administrative Human Resources” and “Administrative Professional Tips” are a great place to start.
  • Microsoft Office Training: Microsoft offers free Microsoft 365 training for programs in its Office suite, including Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. This training covers essential office tasks like creating documents, managing spreadsheets, organizing emails, and scheduling appointments.
  • QuickBooks Online Training: If you use QuickBooks for accounting, you can take advantage of the QuickBooks Online Training Center, which offers tutorials, webinars, and guides on invoicing, expense tracking, payroll management, and financial reporting. With it, your staff can learn how to navigate the software, set up accounts, and manage transactions.

Ready to launch your pest control company?

Congratulations—it’s nearly time to open your pest control business’s doors and start helping your customers feel safer in their homes.

Whether you’ve been in the pest control industry for five years or 25, starting your own venture is an amazing accomplishment. To help you scale and grow a successful business in the future, look into a CRM like GorillaDesk. By managing your contacts professionally, you’ll instantly set yourself apart from competitors in the area.

Learn more about our pest control software and try it out with a free 14-day trial today.

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