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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

For the complete guide to Ohio's Pesticide Applicator trainings, requirements, laws and study materials visit the Ohio State University Pesticide Safety Program Page at :


HIGHLIGHTS: What you need to know.

Fertilizer Applicator License

Any farmer/landowner that applies fertilizer (other than manure) to 50 acres or more of a crop that is primarily for sale must become certified.

Private and Commercial Pesticide Applicator 

Farmers and agricultural industry personnel can obtain either a “Private” or “Commercial” pesticide applicator license through the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). OSU Extension helps in the licensing process by providing study material for new applicators preparing for their tests. OSU Extension also provides annual re-certification sessions for applicators to obtain the continuing education requirements needed to maintain licensure.

Private Pesticide Applicator’s Licenses are for farmers who apply restricted-use pesticides on his/her own land (or rented land) and produce an agricultural commodity. Each private applicator is required to take & pass the CORE pesticide test (general safety for the applicator and the environment) and any category(ies) that correspond to the crops he/she grows. There are 7 categories which certification can be received: Grain and Cereal Crops (category 1), Forage Crops and Livestock (category 2), Fruit and Vegetable Crops (category 3), Nursery and Forest Crops (category 4), Greenhouse Crops (category 5), Fumigation (category 6), and Specialty Uses (category 7). Study materials can be found at: Complete details on the licensing process for private pesticide applicators can be found at:  Test study material may also be purchased at your local extension office.


Commercial Pesticide Applicator Licenses are for farmers or industry personnel who apply pesticides for a business or on land owned by someone else, and usually receive payment for their services. In agriculture this includes agricultural businesses who custom spray crops, as well as farmers who are hired to custom spray for fellow farmers. The commercial license area also includes applicators who work for a government or public agency such as a K-12 schools, colleges, universities, villages, townships, and park districts, in addition to applicators who apply to sites accessible to the public and private companies such as landscapers and lawncare services. Each commercial applicator will need to take and pass the CORE test (general safety for the applicator and the environment) and the category(ies) that correspond to their commercial spray operation. These categories include: Aerial Pest Control (category 1), Agricultural Pest Control (category 2 with 6 sub-categories); Aquatic Pest Control (category 3 with 3 sub-categories), Forest Pest Control (category 4 with 2 sub-categories), Industrial Vegetation (category 5), Ornamental Plant & Shade Tree Pest Control (category 6 with 4 subcategories), Vertebrate (category 7), Turf (category 8), Animal Pest Control (category 9), Domestic, Institutional, Structural & Health Related Pest Control (category 10 with 4 subcategories), Livestock Predator Control (Category 11 for USDA employees only), and Wood Destroying Insect Diagnostic Inspection (category 12). Complete details on the commercial categories and their sub-categories can be found at: More information about the commercial licensing process can be found at: Ohio Department of Agriculture houses the study material for commercial licenses.  When you mail in your application for a license and sign up for your testing time, the ODA will mail you your study materials in advance.  The OSU Extension Office only has private license study materials on site.  The ODA also hosts test prep trainings in Columbus. Find upcoming training opportunities for new commercial applicators here