Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pest Control Workers

pest control workers image
Pest control workers determine the type of treatment needed to eliminate pests.
Quick Facts: Pest Control Workers
2020 Median Pay $37,820 per year
$18.18 per hour
Typical 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, 2020 86,800
Job Outlook, 2020-30 10% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 8,200

Summary

What Pest Control Workers Do

Pest control workers remove unwanted pests that infest buildings and surrounding areas.

Work Environment

Pest control workers must travel to a client’s home or business. Workers often kneel, bend, and crawl into tight spaces to inspect sites. Because there are health risks associated with pesticide use, workers are trained in pesticide safety and, if required by the product label, 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 moderate on-the-job training.

Pay

The median annual wage for pest control workers was $37,820 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of pest control workers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 12,800 openings for pest control workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for pest control workers.

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 pests, such as roaches, rats, ants, bedbugs, mosquitoes, ticks, 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, control, or eliminate 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 the structural integrity of buildings.

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, ticks, and termites are the most common pests, some pest control workers also remove birds, squirrels, and other wildlife from homes and buildings.

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 may use chemicals or baiting techniques 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. They post warning signs to keep people from going into fumigated buildings and 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 86,800 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of pest control workers were as follows:

Exterminating and pest control services 88%
Self-employed workers 7

Pest control workers must travel to a client’s home or business. They work both indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather. To inspect and treat sites, workers must often kneel, bend, and crawl into tight spaces.

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

Injuries and Illnesses

All pesticide products are reviewed and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and workers must follow label directions. Some pest control chemicals are toxic and can be harmful to humans, so care should be taken when using such chemicals. Workers are trained and licensed for pesticide usage and wear protective equipment as necessary based on label requirements.

However, some injuries and illnesses from pesticide exposure may still occur. Pest control workers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Pest control workers are also susceptible to strains and sprains because workers must often kneel, bend, and crawl into tight spaces.

Work Schedules

Most pest control workers are employed full time. Working evenings and weekends is common. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

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 moderate on-the-job training.

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

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically 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

Most states require pest control workers to 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 equivalent, completing an apprenticeship, and passing a background check. States may have additional 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 in order 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 enter crawl spaces during winter.

Pay

Pest Control Workers

Median annual wages, May 2020

Total, all occupations

$41,950

Pest control workers

$37,820

Building cleaning and pest control workers

$28,360

 

The median annual wage for pest control workers was $37,820 in May 2020. 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 $24,980, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $61,170.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for pest control workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Exterminating and pest control services $37,650

Most pest control workers are employed full time. Working evenings and weekends is common. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook

Pest Control Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Pest control workers

10%

Building cleaning and pest control workers

8%

Total, all occupations

8%

 

Employment of pest control workers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 12,800 openings for pest control workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

The growing number of invasive insect species, such as stink bugs, is expected to further increase demand for pest control services. Although some people may choose to control pests themselves, most customers prefer to hire professional pest control services.

Employment projections data for pest control workers, 2020-30

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

Occupational Title

Pest control workers

SOC Code37-2021
Employment, 202086,800
Projected Employment, 203095,000
Percent Change, 2020-3010
Numeric Change, 2020-308,200
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

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 2020 MEDIAN PAY
Construction laborers and helpers Construction Laborers and Helpers

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

See How to Become One $37,080
Grounds maintenance workers Grounds Maintenance Workers

Grounds maintenance workers ensure that the grounds of houses, businesses, and parks are attractive, orderly, and healthy.

See How to Become One $32,220
Janitors and building cleaners Janitors and Building Cleaners

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

No formal educational credential $29,080

Contacts for More Info

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Pest Control Workers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/building-and-grounds-cleaning/pest-control-workers.htm (visited October 11, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

Permanently disable mobile site