University of Illinois Extension
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Pesticide Safety Education Program



An applicator is the person(s) in an organization who has the responsibility for all pesticide purchasing, storage, handling, and use. Each organization must have at least one person licensed as an applicator at each facility location. The applicator's license categories dictate the areas in which a company may legally apply pesticides. An applicator is usually an owner, a supervisor, or a foreman. An applicator may use pesticides or supervise the use of pesticides by that person's licensed operators. 

Applicator Licensing Requirements

  1. Pass the 100-question General Standards Exam or Aerial General Standards Exam with a score of 70% or more. . 
  2. Pass one or more 50-question Category exams. Category selection depends on the sites where the company uses pesticides.
  3. Fill out and return the license application and appropriate fee to the Illinois Dept. of Agriculture.
    (License application will be mailed to you.)

New this year, due to a recent law change, all newly issued pesticide licenses based on testing between November 1, 2017 and October 31, 2018 are effective for three years.

Renewing a license requires that the General Standards exam be passed, all appropriate category exams be passed, and the license fee paid. Commercial for hire license renewal also requires proof of financial responsibility (insurance).
Categories can be added to an applicator license at any time, but all category exams must be retaken once that license expires, regardless of when each category exam was first taken.
To get the maximum length allowed (3 years) between testing you should take all tests (GS and categories) in the same license year rather than stagger exams each year.
Transition to three-year licenses is based on the license year when the General Standards exam was most recently passed. Licenses are issued based on exams passed as early as November 1 of the previous year. During this transition, one and two year licenses will be issued as follows with payment of their associated fees.

General standars License License Renewal Year Commercial Applicator License Fee Commercial Not-for-Hire Applicator Fee
2015 2018 $180 $60
2016 2019 $60 $20
2017 2020 $120 $40
2018 2021 $180 $60

For example, if the General Standards exam was passed for the 2015 license year, you must re-test for the 2018 license year where a three-year license will be issued at a cost of $180/Applicator or $60/Not-for-Hire Applicator.
If the General Standards exam was passed for the 2016 license year, you will be issued a one-year license at a cost of $60/Applicator or $20/Not-for- Hire Applicator.
If the General Standards exam was passed for the 2017 license year, you will be issued a two-year license at a cost of $120/Applicator or $40/Not-for- Hire Applicator.

License Information
(800) 641-3934

Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDA)

Responsible for pesticide licensing. Answers questions regarding required exams, category requirements, and license availability