The Colorado Department of Agriculture requires an applicator license for most companies that do pest control. However, those are basically just company licenses. Each company must have at least one qualified supervisor. And larger companies can also have certified operators, as each applicator is generally only required to have one qualified supervisor.
Both certified operators and qualified supervisors must qualify for a license. Requirements are intended to ensure that companies engaging in pesticide and pest control work have personnel with the knowledge and skills to safely handle the job.
Qualified supervisors are authorized to devise pest-control plans plus do the actual work of preparing, applying and operating pesticides or devices. They also sell applicator services.
Certified operators are allowed to apply restricted use pesticides. They do not have to have a qualified supervisor on scene to do the work. However, a certified operator cannot act as a qualified supervisor for an applicator.
Qualified supervisors must pass a general exam plus all exams for the pesticide work for which he or she is expected to act as a QS. There are many different agricultural, ornamental, and structural pesticide categories. For example, Category 301 is a structural pest control license for Wood Destroying Organism Pest Control. Since there are over 20 categories, I will not list them all here. But you can see them all on Page 2 of the following document.
QCs also have some experience requirements. For most agricultural categories, 8 months of field experience in the last 5 years are required. With applicable college credit, the amount may be reduced, but not by much. 2 years reduces it to 2 months, and 1 year reduces it to 5 months.
For turf pest control, which is an ornamental category, the general rule is 4 months of field experience in the past 2 years. 2 years of college credit can reduce that to 1 month, and 1 year can reduce it to 10 weeks.
For Ornamental Pest Control, which is strangely in the Ornamental categories, the rule is 8 months. That can be reduced to 6 months and 4 months for 1 or 2 years of college credit.
The field experience required for structural pest control depends on the category. For Wood Destroying Organism Pest Control, Residential/Commercial Pest Control and Fumigation, the general rule is 2 years within the last 5 years. This appears to be the most stringent category. If the license is for wood-destroying organisms, at least 100 hours of work on termites in the last 2 years is an additional requirement. 30 of the 100 must be hands-on experience. Approved termite courses can replace the 100-hour requirement. The other structural categories require only 8 months in the last 5 years.
Qualified supervisors have a $100 license application. A company hiring you might or might not pay that on your behalf.
Certified operators have the same exam requirements, application fees, and the like. However, the difference is that they don’t have to have experience. So a certified operator is like a mid-level position. The reason it is not really an entry-level position is that technicians do not have to take any tests. So that is the entry-level position.
You must pass all applicable exams first and then apply for a license. Qualified supervisors and certified operators use the same form.