Pesticide Applicator Training and Testing
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated September 22, 2020
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Pesticide Applicator Training and Testing Clinics jointly administered by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) and the University of Illinois Extension were cancelled for the remainder of the 2020 clinic season. As a result, the Illinois Department of Agriculture extended applicator, operator and dealer licenses that expired on December 31, 2019. Those licenses are valid through December 31, 2020.
IDOA is currently making arrangements for the upcoming 2021 Pesticide Applicator Training and Testing season. Starting in November 2020 there will be a limited number of in person testing opportunities available for those in need of new or recertification. As plans are finalized and testing locations are made available, they will be listed on this website. (Please continue to check back for availability.)
Our focus of the 2021 season will be on online training and testing opportunities. Again, starting in November 2020 there will be training and testing opportunities available online. Those training and testing options will be available through this website. (Please continue to check back for availability.)
As of now, there are currently no in person or online options available to obtain a new pesticide applicator, operator or dealer license or to renew an expiring pesticide applicator, operator or dealer license. Those options will be listed on this website as they become available. (After November 2020)
(For those in need of certification for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year, a provisional online testing system is active and can be reached at the following link: https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/agr/Pesticides/Pages/online-testing.aspx
(This option is only available for individuals needing certification for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year.)
Q: Am I an Applicator or and Operator?
applicator is the person(s) in an organization who has the responsibility for all pesticide purchasing, storage, handling, and use. Applicators must pass the General Standards exam and one or more category exams. An applicator may use pesticides or supervise the use of pesticides by licensed operators.
operator is a person who uses pesticides at the job site. The operator is tied directly to the supervising applicator's license. The operator can apply pesticides only under the direct supervision of the applicator and can apply pesticides only to areas (categories) covered by the applicator's license.
Q: What if my applicator, operator, or dealer license expired on December 31, 2019, but I have not retested for general standards and at least one category exam to date?
Licensees in this situation will have their license extended through December 31, 2020. This extension will be applied automatically and there is no application or fee for this license extension. If verification is needed, please contact the IDOA at (217) 785-2427.
Q: Will training and testing opportunities be available for individuals who did not qualify for a license extension and are not currently licensed as applicators?
The Department released on-line testing on Monday, April 6, 2020. The following exam categories are now available: field crop, mosquito, seed treatment, turf, right-of-way, ornamental, vegetable crop, fruit crop, aquatic, grain facility, pesticide dealer and private applicator.
Please follow the instructions below to request and register for an exam.
- Email email@example.com with the following information: first and last name, email, phone number and test(s) needed.
Note: Companies with more than one applicator needing to test must submit requests in one email. This will help us administer the tests in a timely manner.
- The Department will contact you within 1-2 business days at the email address provided. The email will contain instructions and a secure link to the exam.
- Upon completion of the exam, the Department will notify you via email with your score. For individuals who pass the exam the email will include a printable temporary license. Individuals who do not pass the exam will receive instructions on how to re-test (please remember it is only allowable to test 3 times in a 6-month period).
Any questions about the exam process or unique situations can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that if technology is an issue, testing can be done on a mobile device.
As a reminder, these exams are being offered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, all individuals who took an on-line exam and received a temporary license will be required to re-test in 2021.
The Department relies on the integrity of the agricultural community and industry to safeguard the examination. Cheating, copying, theft of the exam or any other activity compromising the examination is grounds for license revocation.
Q: What if I am unlicensed and would like to become an
operator for 2020?
Due to the special circumstance, non-certified applicators (operators) will not have a testing requirement for the remainder of 2020. Operators must continue to work under the direction of a certified applicator and receive general pesticide training. The supervising applicator must be certified in each category applicable to the pesticide use.
Q: What will meet the requirements for "general pesticide training" required of non-certified applicators (Operators) working under the direct supervision of a certified applicator?
Before any noncertified applicator (Operator) uses a pesticide under the direct supervision of the certified applicator, he or she must have received "general pesticide training". Worker Protection Standards (WPS) – Handler Training is considered adequate general pesticide training. Links to WPS acceptable training videos are listed below.
Iowa State WPS Handler Training Video
WPS – Handler Training Videos
The supervising certified applicator must keep a training record for all operators working under his or her supervision. The training record should at a minimum include the following: operator's name, date of training, supervising applicator's name and name of WPS handler video watched.
Q: What items are required of certified applicators who are responsible for non-certified applicators (operators) applying pesticides under their direct supervision?
The certified applicator must ensure that all of the following requirements are met before allowing a noncertified applicator (operator) to use pesticides under his or her direct supervision:
- Ensure that the noncertified applicator (operator) has access to the applicable product labeling at all times.
- When required by the product label, ensure that any noncertified applicator (operator) has clean, personal protective equipment in proper operating condition and that the personal protective equipment is worn and used correctly.
- Provide to each noncertified applicator (operator), in a manner he or she can understand, instructions specific to the site and pesticide used.
- Ensure that before each day of use equipment used for mixing, loading, transferring, or applying pesticides is in proper operating condition.
- Ensure that a means to immediately communicate with the certified applicator is available to each noncertified applicator (operator) working under his or her direct supervision.
- Be physically present at the site of the use being supervised when required by the product labeling.
- Keep a record of all training.
Q: What if I had a commercial or commercial not for hire applicator license several years ago but it was not current as of December 31, 2019?
Individuals in this situation would need to pass the general standards exam and at least one category exam to become a licensed applicator.
Q: What if I had a private applicator license several years ago, but it was not current as of December 31, 2019?
Individuals in this situation would need to pass the private applicator exam to become a licensed applicator in order to purchase or apply restricted use pesticides (RUPs). A private applicator license is not required for application of general use pesticides which are not classified as restricted use.
Q: Will I receive a revised license card?
No. If verification of licensure is needed, please contact the IDOA at (217) 785-2427.
Q: Can I purchase restricted use pesticides if my license is expired?
Yes, if the applicator license expired on December 31, 2019. All such licenses will have their license expiration dates extended through December 31, 2020 and will be valid for the purchase of restricted use pesticides. This extension will be applied automatically and there is no application or fee for this license extension. The Department will work to notify dealers of this license extension. If verification of licensure is needed, please contact the IDOA at (217) 785-2427.
Q: My dealer license expired December 31, 2019. Can I sell pesticides (including restricted use pesticides) for this upcoming season?
Yes. Effective immediately, dealer and applicator/dealer licenses will be extended through December 31, 2020. This extension will be applied automatically and there is no application or fee for this license extension. Pesticides can be sold so long as a valid license is used showing a December 31, 2019 expiration date. If verification of licensure is needed, please contact the IDOA at (217) 785-2427.
Q: If I have a valid pesticide applicator license in another state, am I currently able to apply for a reciprocal license in Illinois?
The State of Illinois is currently working with other states to formalize reciprocity. We encourage all out of state applicators to email email@example.com and a response will be provided by the Department.
Q: Do I still need to be a "certified applicator" to apply one of the 4 dicamba products labeled for application to dicamba tolerant soybeans and cotton in 2020?
Yes. The labels for Engenia, Xtendimax, Fexapan and Tavium all require the application to be performed by a "certified applicator". In order to become a certified applicator, individuals must pass the general standards exam and the field crop category. Certified applicators, whose license expired on December 31, 2019 and have not had the opportunity to successfully recertify will have their license extended through December 31, 2020. In addition, anyone applying one of the four aforementioned dicamba containing products must have completed the required annual dicamba specific training as per label requirements.
Q: Do I need to be a "certified applicator" to apply paraquat in 2020?
Yes. If applying paraquat under the new label which specifically requires the application be made by a "certified applicator." In order to become a certified applicator, individuals must pass the general standards exam and at least one applicable category exam (ie. Field Crop). Certified applicators whose license expired on December 31, 2019 and have not had the opportunity to successfully recertify will have their license extended through December 31, 2020. In addition, anyone applying paraquat under the new label must have completed the required paraquat specific training as per label requirements.