University of Illinois Extension
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Pesticide Safety Education Program



An operator is a person who uses pesticides at the job site. The operator is tied directly to the applicator’s license. The operator cannot be licensed without an applicator being properly licensed. The operator can apply pesticides only under the direct supervision of the applicator and can apply pesticides only to areas covered by the applicator’s license.

Supervision and direction of operators by an applicator is interpreted to mean that the applicator must be in daily contact with the operators. If the applicator is out of town or not available, the operator may not legally apply pesticides. An operator may not legally work for another applicator.

Operator Licensing Requirements

  1. Be employed and supervised by a currently licensed applicator.
  2. Pass the 100-question General Standards exam or Aerial General Standards exam with a score of 70% or more.
  3. Fill out and return the license application and appropriate fee to the Illinois Dept. of Agriculture. (License application will be mailed to you.) Insurance requirements, if applicable, will be sent with your application.

  4. Renewing a license requires that the General Standards exam be passed and the license fee paid. Commercial for hire license renewal also requires proof of financial responsibility (insurance).

    An operator license can be reissued as an applicator license by passing the appropriate category exam(s) and paying the appropriate fee.

    License Information

    (800) 641-3934

    Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDA)

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