What Pest Control Workers Do
Pest control workers remove unwanted pests that infest buildings and surrounding areas.
Pest control workers must travel to a client’s home or business. Workers often kneel, bend, and crawl into tight spaces to inspect sites. Because there are health risks associated with pesticide use, workers are trained in pesticide safety and, if required by the product label, sometimes wear protective gear, including respirators, gloves, and goggles. Working evenings and weekends is common.
How to Become a Pest Control Worker
State laws require pest control workers to be licensed. Most workers need a high school diploma and receive moderate on-the-job training.
The median annual wage for pest control workers was $37,330 in May 2019.
Employment of pest control workers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Job opportunities should be good because of the limited number of people seeking work in pest control and the need to replace workers who leave this occupation.
Pest control workers remove unwanted pests, such as roaches, rats, ants, bedbugs, mosquitoes, ticks, 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 can pose serious risks to the health and safety of occupants. Pest control workers control, manage, and remove these creatures from homes, apartments, offices, and other structures to protect people and to maintain 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 must also know the best ways to control and remove the pests.
Although roaches, rats, ants, bedbugs, ticks, and termites are 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 identify potential and actual pest problems, conduct inspections, and design control strategies. They work directly with customers and, as entry-level workers, use only a limited range of pesticides.
Applicators use a wide range of pesticides and may specialize in a particular area of pest control:
- Termite control technicians 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 infested buildings before using hoses to fill the structure with fumigants. They post warning signs to keep people from going into fumigated buildings and monitor buildings closely to detect and stop leaks.
Pest control workers held about 87,600 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of pest control workers were as follows:
|Exterminating and pest control services||87%|
Pest control workers must travel to a client’s home or business. They work both indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather. To inspect and treat sites, workers must often kneel, bend, and crawl into tight spaces.
When working with pesticides, pest control workers must wear protective gear, including gloves, goggles, and, when required, respirators.
Injuries and Illnesses
All pesticide products are reviewed and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and workers must follow label directions. Some pest control chemicals are toxic and can be harmful to humans, so care should be taken when using such chemicals. Workers are trained and licensed for pesticide usage and wear protective equipment as necessary based on label requirements.
However, some injuries and illnesses from pesticide exposure may still occur. Pest control workers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Pest control workers are also susceptible to strains and sprains because workers must often kneel, bend, and crawl into tight spaces.
Most pest control workers are employed full time. Working evenings and weekends is common. Some work more than 40 hours per week.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of pest control workers.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2019|
Construction Laborers and Helpers
Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.
|See How to Become One||$36,000|
Grounds Maintenance Workers
Grounds maintenance workers ensure that the grounds of houses, businesses, and parks are attractive, orderly, and healthy.
|See How to Become One||$30,890|
Janitors and Building Cleaners
Janitors and building cleaners keep many types of buildings clean, orderly, and in good condition.
|No formal educational credential||$27,430|
For information about state licensing requirements, contact state licensing officials.
For information on pest control officials, visit
For information on the pest management industry, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Pest Control Workers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/building-and-grounds-cleaning/pest-control-workers.htm (visited ).