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Is pest control worth it as a job?

Pest control is the regulation or management of a species defined as a pest, usually because it is perceived to be detrimental to a person’s health, the ecology or the economy. A practitioner of pest control is called an exterminator or pest controller.

What does a pest control worker do?

Pest control workers, also known as exterminators, use chemical and mechanical methods to remove unwanted pests that infest buildings and surrounding areas. Their job duties include:

  • Inspecting buildings and other structures for signs of pest infestation
  • Identifying the type of pest causing the infestation
  • Determining the best methods for eliminating the pests
  • Applying pesticides or setting mechanical traps
  • Sealing entry points to prevent future pest access
  • Keeping records of pesticide use and work performed
  • Providing customers with guidance on preventing future infestations

Many pest control workers specialize in a certain type of pest, such as termites, bed bugs, rodents, or birds. They often service residential and commercial buildings, as well as public areas like schools, hospitals, and restaurants.

What are the education requirements?

There are no formal education requirements to become a pest control worker. However, most employers prefer candidates who have a high school diploma or equivalent. Taking biology and chemistry classes in high school can be helpful.

Many pest control workers learn on the job from experienced technicians over one to three months. Some complete formal apprenticeship programs that last up to four years.

Certification and licensing requirements for pest control workers vary by state. In most states, workers must pass an exam and complete continuing education courses to become certified. Common certifications include:

  • Licensed Commercial Applicator: Allows application of restricted-use pesticides in a commercial setting
  • Licensed Commercial Operator: Business license for pest control companies
  • Certified Operator or Technician: Shows competency in basic pest control methods
  • Wood-Destroying Organisms (WDO) Inspection: Certifies training in termite and other wood pest detection

What skills are required?

Pest control professionals utilize the following important skills:

  • Customer service skills – Interact with clients courteously and professionally.
  • Communication abilities – Clearly explain pest issues and treatments to clients.
  • Physical health – Traverse crawl spaces and climb into tight areas; lift and carry equipment.
  • Detail-oriented – Identify pest signs, evaluate infestations, and implement solutions.
  • Technical knowledge – Understand pest biology and lifecycles; properly apply chemicals and traps.
  • Time management – Organize schedule to maximize efficiency and meet client needs.

What are the working conditions like?

Pest control professionals often work long and irregular hours. Schedules can change weekly or daily depending on client needs. Jobs frequently require evening, weekend, and holiday work. The ability to be on call for emergency services is common.

Work settings alternate between office duties, traveling to client locations, and working in infested buildings. Fieldwork may involve crawling under houses or working in cramped attics. Outdoor work exposes workers to all weather conditions.

The job involves potential safety hazards when handling pesticides and working in hazardous environments. Workers must follow strict safety procedures and use protective equipment to minimize risks.

What is the job outlook?

Employment for pest control workers is projected to grow 8 percent through 2030, faster than the average across all occupations. Growth will be driven by:

  • Population growth in service areas, requiring more residential and commercial buildings to be serviced
  • Greater public awareness of the health threats posed by pests
  • New invasive species and diseases requiring control methods
  • New environmentally-friendly pest control methods gaining popularity

Opportunities will be best for workers with good customer service skills and eligibility for certification. Seeking additional training and learning new treatment methods can also improve prospects.

How much do pest control workers earn?

Percentile Hourly Wage Annual Salary
10th percentile $12.68 $26,380
25th percentile $15.73 $32,740
50th percentile (median) $19.01 $39,550
75th percentile $25.42 $52,880
90th percentile $35.54 $73,930

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The average hourly wage for pest control workers in the top industries were:

  • Federal executive branch: $24.11
  • Local government: $22.91
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $21.41
  • Colleges and universities: $17.88
  • Exterminating and pest control services: $16.55

Most pest control workers work full-time and receive benefits like paid vacation, sick leave, health insurance, and a retirement plan.

What are the pros of being a pest control worker?

  • Help protect public health by managing pests that spread disease
  • Gain customer service skills working directly with clients
  • Have a flexible schedule with ability to choose own hours/days
  • Get significant on-the-job training and learning opportunities
  • Work both indoors and outdoors for variety
  • Earn a moderate salary with potential for growth through experience and certification
  • Receive benefits like healthcare, paid time off, and retirement savings plans
  • Higher demand and job stability relative to declining industries

What are the cons of being a pest control worker?

  • Work in cramped, dirty spaces with exposure to pests and chemicals
  • High injury rate due to hazards from pesticides, slips and falls, etc.
  • Need to meet short deadlines and juggle multiple client requests
  • May have to deal with angry customers for failed treatments
  • Irregular hours and overtime work is common
  • Spend significant time driving between client locations
  • Job stress from meeting sales quotas and productivity benchmarks
  • Lack of advancement opportunities without pursuing management role


Pest control can be a stable and worthwhile career for those who enjoy hands-on fieldwork and providing customer service. Workers gain transferable skills and have opportunities to grow through certification. However, the job also involves hazards, irregular hours, and stressful work obligations. Weighing the pros and cons can help determine if becoming a pest control worker aligns with your interests and lifestyle.