On-line commercial pesticide applicator certification testing

Farm Forum

Whether you are a private or commercial pesticide applicator, or both, obtaining and maintaining your certification status is important. Being certified as a pesticide applicator is the law unless your application fits the homeowner exemption.

Private applicators have had the option of completing the take-home, written test or attending a private applicator certification meeting since the program’s beginning. Several years ago, the option of on-line testing was added. Any of these methods can be used by private applicators to complete their initial certification, re-certify after the five year time period the certification is valid for, or become certified after a lapse of certification. Watch for the dates and locations of private applicator certification meetings in 2015. They will begin in January. I will also list in this column, the meetings in south-central South Dakota that I am involved with as they approach.

Obtaining certification as a commercial applicator is a more stringent process, and should be. To initially become certified as a commercial applicator, individuals must pass a general test, along with a test for each category they wish to be certified in, such as ag plant pest-herbicides, ag plant pest-insecticides, etc. These tests must be completed at an approved testing site (Regional Extension Centers and some County Extension Offices), using only the reference materials provided. Commercial applicator certification is good for 2 years, and applicators can re-certify by either attending a re-certification training meeting, or again complete the tests at an approved testing site.

On-line testing for commercial applicators has been considered for several years, and as of October 8, 2014, is now available at each of the eight SDSU Regional Extension Centers. The on-line testing is done on tablet computers, which are housed at the Regional Extension Centers. The tablet computers have been set up only to complete the commercial applicator tests.

I wanted to add a couple of categories to my commercial certification anyway, so used the on-line system to complete the tests and give the system a try. I would certainly rate the experience as positive, the tablet computer and testing system worked well, and within seconds after clicking the “submit” button upon completing a test, you are informed as to whether you passed or failed. The current practice of submitting pictures/scans of applicator’s photo ID is also accomplished with the camera built into the tablet computer.

Actually getting your commercial applicator license will still take a few days due to processing the payment, mailing, etc., but the tablet testing will reduce the time to complete the commercial applicator testing process considerably. The paper tests will remain in each of the approved testing sites, as some people may prefer that method, or more people may wish to take the tests at once than regional center has tablets.

The staff at the Regional Extension Centers will help people use the tablets to complete their testing and answer questions.