Skip to main content

Commercial Registered Applicator Programs

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing disruptions in pesticide applicator certification exams and the conversion of exam administration primarily to Metro Institute, many pesticide application firms are seeking alternatives for pesticide applicator certification. One option is the establishment of commercial registered applicator programs. 

Commercial registered applicator programs allow firms to train applicators in specific categories and require the applicator to take only the commercial core exam in a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) approved venue (online or at a Metro Institute testing center). Registered applicators receive a three-year credential, similar to certified applicators; however, registered applicators can only apply general use pesticides.

Differences Between Certified and Registered Applicators

Factors Certified Registered
Application Fee $75 $45
Exams Core plus Categories Core Only
Category-specific training required No Yes
Pesticide type(s) General & Restricted General Use Only
Duration of credential 3 Years 3 Years

Certified applicators who qualify as trainers (those with two years of certified experience in the categories in which they wish to train) must be verified as a trainer through an exam administered by MDARD or Michigan State University Pesticide Safety Education Program (contact information below). Upon successful completion that exam, the firm must develop a category-specific registered applicator training program to train their applicators. When an individual passes the commercial core exam, completes the category-specific training, has sent in the application with appropriate fee and verification of training form, then the applicator is considered registered and may begin pesticide applications.

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

Applicable Law & Regulations:

  • Act 451, Part 83, Section 8314(1) states that a person shall not apply a pesticide for a commercial purpose or during his or her employment unless that person is either a certified applicator or a registered applicator
  • Act 451, Part 83, Section 8302(14) defines "certified applicator" as an individual who is authorized to use or supervise the use of a restricted use pesticide.
  • Act 451, Part 83, Section 8306(1) defines "registered applicator" as an individual who is authorized to apply general use pesticides for a private or commercial purpose.
  • Act 451, Part 83, Section 8313(1) states that commercial applicators that hold themselves out to the public as being in the business of applying pesticides shall obtain a commercial applicator license for each place of business.
  • Regulation 637, Rule 11(1) states that a trainer of registered applicators shall be a certified applicator with a minimum of 2 years of experience and shall have successfully completed a training program approved by the director.
  • Regulation 637, Rule 8(1) states that all registered applicators shall demonstrate, by examination, practical knowledge of the basic principles of pest management, pesticide label comprehension, and the safe use of pesticides.
  • Regulation 637, Rule 8(3) states that training programs for commercial registered applicators shall be approved by MDARD, be category-specific, and include certain required information.

Steps to implement a commercial registered applicator training program:

  1. Obtain a copy of the Registered Applicator Trainer Manual from the MDARD website.
  2. Contact Michigan State University Pesticide Safety Education Program Coordinator John Stone at or call 616-890-6729 to schedule a registered applicator trainer exam.
  3. Work with the MSU Pesticide Safety Education Program to develop a category-specific training program for those categories in which you desire to register applicators.
  4. Once the MSU Pesticide Safety Education Program completes its review, it will be submitted to MDARD for approval.

Steps to become a registered commercial applicator:

  1. Complete a training program approved by MDARD and conducted by an MDARD-verified trainer.
  2. Pass a commercial core exam. To schedule an exam, visit Metro Institute's website.
  3. Submit the Pesticide Commercial Registered Applicator Application and $45 fee to Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, P.O. Box 30776, Lansing, MI 48909.