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Pesticide Applicator Certification in Vermont

June 6, 2023
pesticide applicators

By Stephanie Smith - VAAFM Deputy Director - Public Health and Agriculture Resource Management

Montpelier, VT | June 6, 2023 - Whether an organic farmer with employees or part of a commercial lawn maintenance crew, pesticide applicators must be qualified to use pesticides. The amended Vermont Rule for Control of Pesticides includes updated requirements, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) has been busy getting applicators up to speed on these as well as administering exams to prospective applicators. The pesticide certification exam(s) ensure that pesticide application is done in a manner that best reduces risks to the public, worker health, and the environment.

VAAFM administers a range of certification exams. Prospective applicators with a specialty must pass the CORE exam and then pass at least one additional category exam for certification.  These categories include agricultural pest control (Cat. 1A); forest pest control (Cat. 2A); ornamental and turf pest control (Cat. 3A and 3B); and Industrial, Institutional, Structural, and Health Related Pest Control (Cat. 7A), among others. At present, VAAFM is particularly busy administering ornamental and turf grass (Cat. 3A and 3B) and right-of-way (Cat. 6) pest control exams.

Currently, there are no assessed fees to sit for the CORE exams.  There is a $25 fee for a successful completion of the Private exam, a $30 fee per category for a successful completion of a category exam ($120 maximum), and re-take fee of $25 for failed exams. In the instance of a first-time failure of an exam, an exam taker must wait a one week waiting period before re-taking a failed exam. For a second failure of the same category exam, there is a 28-day waiting period. When a person fails a third time, the individual must wait a year before they are allowed to retake the exams. A passing score for Vermont pesticide exams is 75% or higher.

All pesticide certifications remain valid for a period of 5 years. During those five years, commercial, non-commercial/government applicators must earn sixteen (16) recertification credits in the appropriate certification category or categories in order to renew their exams for another five years. Private applicators must earn eight (8) recertification credits to renew their exams for another 5 years. If recertification credit requirements are not met, the individual can retake the category exams.

While prospective applicators are eager to get to work, it is extremely important that they possess the requisite knowledge to do so correctly. VAAFM highly encourages any prospective examinee to study prior to taking an exam. For more information on study materials and the exam schedule and process, please see the following links:

If you have questions, please feel free to contact the Public Health and Agricultural Resource Management Division at