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Pesticide Applicator Certification

Pesticide applicator in personal protective equipment
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Pesticide Applicator Certification

Contact Information

Lauren Gott, Pesticide Certification Specialist 


Pesticide Certification

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) provides certification for applicators who apply pesticides for private or commercial use. To become certified, applicators must develop the knowledge and skills needed to apply pesticides safely, while protecting human health and the environment against misuse. 

Without submitting a completed Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) application and fee, you are NOT considered certified and will not receive a credential from MDARD.

Commercial applicators working on a for-hire basis need to follow business licensing requirements to legally complete pesticide applications. Please visit for more information on how to apply for a pesticide business license.

Quick Links and Announcements: 

  • View the certification flowchart to determine if certification is required.

    Private certification is required for anyone who applies restricted use pesticides (RUPs) to agricultural commodities to your own or your employer’s property. Applicators must pass the private core exam.

    Commercial certification is required for anyone who applies pesticides on a for-hire or during their employment. All commercial applicators must pass the commercial core exam and at least one category exam depending on the type of applications being completed. See the Commercial Pesticide Application Certification Categories List to decide which categories to include on your application.

    Registered applicators are an alternative for applicators who apply general use pesticides for a commercial purpose. RUPs are not able to be applied by registered applicators. View the “Registered Applicators” dropdown for additional information.

    Persons completing fumigation or aerial pesticide applications must pass the corresponding standard exams.

    See the "How do I complete my credential" dropdown for information about how to apply for certification. 

  • MDARD offers two options for taking certification and registration exams:

    • Private, commercial core, fumigation, and aerial standard exams are proctored by MDARD using paper exam booklets. Exams are offered in limited locations after attending a mandatory core review session. Visit Michigan State University's website for additional information.
    • Certification exams are proctored by Metro Institute, a pesticide exam administration company authorized to conduct testing on MDARD’s behalf. Exams are scheduled at the applicator’s convenience and can be proctored two ways:
      • In-person at an established testing location. Find Metro Institute Testing Locations.
      • Online and remotely proctored from your home or office. View the Applicator Exam Video Training to walk through the process of taking a remote proctored exam.
      • Metro Institute charges a convenience fee to proctor each exam. 
      • Register for exams through Metro Institute and create an account on their website. Call 877-533-2900 to speak to a Metro Institute representative. Please note Metro Institute is located in Arizona if contacting via telephone.

    Renewing or applying for a pesticide certification credential is not complete without providing an application and fee to MDARD.

  • All study manuals can be ordered from the National Pesticide Safety Education Center. Some study manuals, including the private core training manual, can be downloaded for free at Michigan State University Pesticide Education

    See MDARD's List of Study Manuals by Applicator Type for information about which study manual to order.

  • New applicators must submit the Private and Commercial Applicator Certification Application and the certification fee to MDARD to complete the certification credential process. Applicators renewing their certification credential must submit the renewal notice and the certification fee to MDARD. Certification processing fees are the same for initial applications, renewal applications, and for adding categories.

    • Private applicator fee - $50
    • Commercial applicator fee - $75
    • Registered application fee - $45

    Registered applicators must use the Commercial Applicator Registration Application

    Mail the application with the proper fee (made payable to the “State of Michigan”) to: The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, P.O. Box 30776, Lansing, Michigan 48909. Upon passing all certification exams and supplying the applicable paperwork and the certification fee to MDARD, a certification credential will be issued.

  • Visit the renewal process webpage for all details on how to renew your credential.

    Credentials last for three years and expire on December 31 of the third year. Renewal notices are mailed to applicators in October. Credentials can be renewed by gaining seminar credits or by retaking the applicable exams. 

    Seminar credits must be accrued BEFORE the certification credential expires. Passing certification exam scores will not be accepted by MDARD until an applicator is in the renewal period (For example, if an applicators certification expires December 31, 2023, they cannot renew their certification before the first week of October in 2023).

    Applicators renewing their certification credential must submit the renewal notice and the certification fee to MDARD. If you have misplaced your renewal notice, please contact MDARD at 800-292-3939. Have questions about the status of your credential? Contact the Central Licensing Unit at or 800-292-3939.

    Private Applicator Renewal Commercial Applicator Renewal Registered Applicator Renewal
    Provide the $50 renewal fee and renewal form to MDARD Provide the $75 renewal fee and renewal form to MDARD Provide the $45 renewal fee and renewal form to MDARD
    Accrue 16 seminar credits Accrue 8 seminar credits per category (including core) Accrue 8 seminar credits per category (including core)
    OR OR


    Retake the private core exam Retake the commercial core and applicable category exams Retake the commercial core and retrain using an approved training program.
  • Adding a category: Applicators wishing to add a category outside of the renewal period must submit the Private and Commercial Applicator Certification Application and applicable certification processing fee after passing the exam(s).

    Changing your address: Email to update your mailing address.

    Requesting a new card: Submit the Card Replacement Form to MDARD with the $10 replacement fee. 

  • MDARD has reciprocal certification agreements with Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. To receive reciprocity in Michigan, an applicator must be a resident in the originating state of the credential. On the Private and Commercial Applicator Certification Application under section 1A, mark you are applying for certification via reciprocity and list the state of residence. Submit the application and certification fee to MDARD.
  • For applicators:

    During the 3-year certification/registration period, applicators may obtain credits to apply toward the renewal of their credential by attending pre-approved seminars. View the list of seminars approved for recertification credits, which includes online and in person seminars searchable by month.

    Applicators are responsible for tracking their own credits and can use the Seminar Attendance Record developed by MDARD. View the Applicator Credit Report to determine how many seminar credits you have.

    For seminar hosts:

    Please view the Hosting Pesticide Applicator Seminars Guidance Document and the Topics Not Eligible for Pesticide Recertification Credits before requesting seminar credits. If you need assistance developing a training agenda, see the Sample Training Agenda(s) for Pesticide Recertification Credits.
    Request seminar credits using the Form to Request Seminar Pesticide Credits.

  • Registered applicators can only apply general use pesticides. Commercial registered applicators are required to take the commercial core exam and receive category specific training from a company’s MDARD approved training program and trainer. Registered applicator credentials last for three years and expire on December 31 of the third year. 

    Difference between certified and registered applicators:

    Factors Certified


    Application fee $75 $45
    Exam(s) Core plus applicable categories Core only
    Category-specific training required No Yes
    Pesticide type(s) General-use and restricted General-use only
    Duration of credential Three years Three years

    A company wanting to utilize registered applicators needs to complete the following:

    • A registered applicator trainer must pass the Registered Applicator Trainer Exam. The trainer must be a commercially certified applicator with at least two seasons of experience completing pesticide applications in the applicable categories of application. Use the Registered Applicator Trainer Manual to study for the exam.
    • A training program must be approved by MDARD. Training programs must meet the requirements outlined in Regulation 636, Rule 8, Subrule 9.
    Contact MDARD's Pesticide Certification Specialist Lauren Gott at for assistance with establishing a training program and how to take the Registered Applicator Training Exam.  

    Registered applicators must complete the following tasks once a company has an approved trainer and training program in place:

    • Pass the commercial core exam.
    • Receive training from the approved trainer using the approved training program in the applicable categories of pesticide application.
    • Mail the Commercial Applicator Registration Application and $45 certification processing fee to MDARD (payable to the State of Michigan).

    While training registered applicators, MDARD allows non-credentialed employees to use pesticides for two weeks under the direct supervision of a certified applicator if a training program has been approved. The Requirements and Procedures for Two-week Training Notification for Non-certified or Non-registered Pesticide Applicators Form must be provided to MDARD BEFORE an applicator begins the two-week training period.

    Use the Registered Pesticide Applicator Checklist to verify an applicator has successfully completed applicator registration.

    Pesticide applicator business license requirements still apply to commercial pesticide application firms who employ commercial registered applicators.