Pest control workers remove unwanted pests, such as roaches, rodents, ants, and termites, that infest buildings and surrounding areas.


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 are a nuisance and may pose health and safety risks to occupants. Pest control workers control, manage, and remove these creatures from apartments, homes, offices, and other structures in a way that does not harm inhabitants and maintains 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 also must know the best ways to control and remove the pests.

Although certain rodents and insects, such as mice and termites, are among 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 are usually entry-level workers who identify potential and actual pest problems, conduct inspections, and design control strategies. They work directly with customers and use a limited range of pesticides.

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

  • Termite control workers 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 all or part of an infested building before using hoses to fill the structure with fumigants. They post warning signs to keep people from going into the fumigated area and monitor it closely to detect and stop leaks.
Work Environment

Pest control workers held about 90,600 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of pest control workers were as follows:

Exterminating and pest control services            92%
Self-employed workers 2

Pest control workers must travel to a client’s home or business. They work both indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather.

Injuries and Illnesses

Pest control workers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. These workers are susceptible to strains and sprains because they may need to kneel, bend, and crawl in tight spaces. In addition, some pesticides are toxic and may be harmful to humans, so workers must take precautions when using such chemicals.

All pesticide products are reviewed and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and workers must follow label directions. Pest control workers are trained and licensed for pesticide use and must wear protective equipment, including gloves, goggles, and respirators, to reduce the risk of harm.

Work Schedules

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

Education and Training

Pest control workers typically need a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training. State laws require pest control workers to be licensed.

Many pest control companies require that employees have a driver’s license and a good driving record.


Pest control workers typically need high school diploma or equivalent to enter the occupation. Employers may consider experienced candidates for some pest control jobs.


Most pest control workers begin as technicians, typically receiving on-the-job training. 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 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. States may have additional requirements for applicators. Check with your state regulatory agency for more information.


Pest control workers typically advance as they gain experience. For example, applicators who have several years of experience may become supervisors. Some workers start their own pest management business.

Personality and Interests

Pest control workers typically have an interest in the Building and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a pest control worker, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Pest control workers should also possess the following specific 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.


The median annual wage for pest control workers was $37,540 in May 2021. 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 $28,620, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $58,660.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for pest control workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Exterminating and pest control services               $37,460

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

Job Outlook

Employment of pest control workers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 13,300 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. 


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.

For More Information

For information about state licensing requirements, contact state licensing officials.

For information on the pest management industry, visit

National Pest Management Association (NPMA)




Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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