Pest Control Workers

Summary

pest control workers image
Pest control workers travel to clients’ sites, inspecting premises for signs of pests or infestation.
Quick Facts: Pest Control Workers
2012 Median Pay $30,060 per year
$14.45 per hour
Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2012 65,400
Job Outlook, 2012-22 20% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 12,800

What Pest Control Workers Do

Pest control workers remove unwanted creatures, such as roaches, rats, ants, bedbugs, and termites that infest buildings and surrounding areas.

Work Environment

Pest control workers must travel to clients’ sites. To inspect sites, workers often kneel, bend, and crawl in tight spaces. Because there are health risks associated with pesticide use, workers are trained in pesticide safety and sometimes wear protective gear, including respirators, gloves, and goggles. Working evenings and weekends is common.

How to Become a Pest Control Worker

State laws require pest control workers to be licensed. Most workers need a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training, usually lasting less than 3 months.

Pay

The median annual wage for pest control workers was $30,060 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of pest control workers is projected to grow 20 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Environmental and health concerns will result in more people hiring professionals, rather than trying to control pests themselves. Job opportunities should be very good.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of pest control workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about pest control workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Pest Control Workers Do

Pest control workers
Pest control workers inspect a building and its premises for signs of pests.

Pest control workers remove unwanted creatures, such as roaches, rats, ants, bedbugs, and termites that infest buildings and surrounding areas.

Duties

Pest control workers typically do the following:

  • Inspect buildings and premises for signs of pests or infestation
  • Determine the type of treatment needed to eliminate pests
  • Measure the dimensions of the area needing treatment
  • Estimate the cost of their services
  • Use baits and set traps to remove or kill pests
  • Apply pesticides in and around buildings and other structures
  • Design and carry out pest management plans
  • Drive trucks equipped with power spraying equipment
  • Create barriers to prevent pests from entering a building

Unwanted pests that infest buildings and surrounding areas can pose serious risks to the health and safety of occupants. Pest control workers control, manage, and remove these creatures from homes, apartments, offices, and other structures to protect people and to maintain buildings’ structural integrity.

To design and carry out integrated pest management plans, pest control workers must know the identity and biology of a wide range of pests. They must also know the best ways to control and remove the pests.

Although roaches, rats, ants, bedbugs, and termites are the most common pests, some pest control workers also remove irritant birds and wildlife.

Pest control workers’ position titles and job duties often vary by state.

The following are examples of types of pest control workers:

Pest control technicians identify potential and actual pest problems, conduct inspections, and design control strategies. They work directly with customers and, as entry-level workers, use only a limited range of pesticides.

Applicators use a wide range of pesticides and may specialize in a particular area of pest control:

  • Termite control technicians use chemicals and modify structures to eliminate termites and prevent future infestations. Some also repair structural damage caused by termites and build barriers to separate pests from their food source.
  • Fumigators use gases, called fumigants, to treat specific kinds of pests or large-scale infestations. Fumigators seal infested buildings before using hoses to fill the structure with fumigants. Warning signs are posted to keep people from going into fumigated buildings, and fumigators monitor buildings closely to detect and stop leaks.

Work Environment

Pest control workers
Pest control workers must travel to a client’s home or business.

Pest control workers held about 65,400 jobs in 2012. About 88 percent worked in the services to buildings and dwellings industry.

Pest control workers must travel to clients’ sites. They work both indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather. To inspect sites and treat them, workers must often kneel, bend, and crawl in tight spaces.

When working with pesticides, pest control workers must wear protective gear, including gloves, goggles, and when required, respirators.

Work Schedules

Most pest control workers are employed full time. Working evenings and weekends is common.

Injuries and Illnesses

Pest control chemicals are toxic and can be harmful to humans, so care should be taken to use such chemicals properly. Although workers are trained and licensed for pesticide usage and wear protective equipment, some injuries and illnesses from pesticide exposure may still occur.

How to Become a Pest Control Worker

Pest control workers
State laws require pest control workers to be licensed.

State laws require pest control workers to be licensed. Most workers need a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training, usually lasting less than 3 months.

Many pest control companies require that employees have good driving records.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is the minimum qualification for most pest control jobs.

Training

Most pest control workers begin as technicians, receiving both formal technical instruction and moderate-term on-the-job training from employers. They often study specialties such as rodent control, termite control, and fumigation. Technicians also must complete general training in pesticide use and safety. Pest control training can usually be completed in less than 3 months.

After completing the required training, workers are qualified to provide pest control services. Because pest control methods change, workers often attend continuing education classes.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Pest control workers must be licensed. Licensure requirements vary by state, but workers usually must complete training and pass an exam. Some states have additional requirements, such as having a high school diploma or GED, completing an apprenticeship, and passing a background check. States may have yet more requirements for applicators.

Advancement

Pest control workers typically advance as they gain experience. Applicators with several years of experience often become supervisors. Some experienced workers start their own pest management company.

Important Qualities

Bookkeeping skills. Pest control workers must keep accurate records of the hours they work, chemicals they use, and payments they collect. Self-employed workers, in particular, need these skills to run their business.

Customer-service skills. Pest control workers should be friendly and polite when they interact with customers at their homes or businesses. 

Detail oriented. Because pest control workers apply pesticides, they need to be able to follow instructions carefully in order to prevent harm to residents, pets, the environment, and themselves.

Physical stamina. Pest control workers may spend hours on their feet, often crouching, kneeling, and crawling. They also must be able to withstand uncomfortable conditions, such as heat when they climb into attics in the summertime and cold when they slide into crawl spaces during winter.

Pay

Pest Control Workers

Median annual wages, May 2012

Total, all occupations

$34,750

Pest control workers

$30,060

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations

$22,690

 

The median annual wage for pest control workers was $30,060 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,540, and the top 10 percent earned more than $47,770.

Most pest control workers are employed full time. Working evenings and weekends is common.

Job Outlook

Pest Control Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Pest control workers

20%

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations

13%

Total, all occupations

11%

 

Employment of pest control workers is projected to grow 20 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment is projected to increase as more people use professional pest control services rather than trying to control pests themselves. Environmental and health concerns also will result in more people hiring professionals.

Population growth, particularly in the South, where pests are more common, will result in the construction of more buildings, requiring additional pest management.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities are expected to be very good. The limited number of people seeking work in pest control, expected employment growth, and the need to replace workers who leave this occupation should result in many job openings.

Employment projections data for Pest Control Workers, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Pest control workers

37-2021 65,400 78,200 20 12,800 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of pest control workers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Construction laborers and helpers

Construction Laborers and Helpers

Construction laborers and helpers perform many basic tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

See How to Become One $29,160
Grounds maintenance workers

Grounds Maintenance Workers

Grounds maintenance workers provide a pleasant outdoor environment by ensuring that the grounds of houses, businesses, and parks are attractive, orderly, and healthy.

See How to Become One $23,970
Janitors and building cleaners

Janitors and Building Cleaners

Janitors and building cleaners keep many types of buildings clean, orderly, and in good condition.

Less than high school $22,320
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Pest Control Workers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/building-and-grounds-cleaning/pest-control-workers.htm (visited December 17, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014