Changes apply to commercial and private applicators

Pesticide application

Certification requirements for pesticide applicators have changed. Contact your local county UT Extension Office for more information. Photo courtesy UTIA.

Tennessee has modified state laws and regulations concerning the use of pesticides, and applicators need to be aware of how those changes might affect their certifications. To apply restricted-use pesticides, an applicator must be certified or working in the direct supervision of a certified applicator. There are two types of certified pesticide applicators: the private applicator and the commercial applicator.

A private applicator is an individual who uses, supervises the use of, or buys any restricted-use pesticide for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity on property owned or rented by him or his employer or, if applied without compensation other than trading of personal services between producers of agricultural commodities, on the property of another person.

Private applicators must successfully complete a specialized training session provided by University of Tennessee Extension. Training reviews the proper use of restricted-use pesticides. Private applicator certification expires on October 21, of the third year of the certification period. October 21, 2014, will mark the end of the current certification cycle.

If a private applicator wishes to maintain certification, the applicator should attend a recertification training session offered by the UT Extension. Recertification training sessions are commonly held at various county extension offices, so please contact your local county extension office to obtain more information concerning training sessions. 

Online training options are also available. Please visit to find out more concerning initial certification for private applicators or recertification.

A commercial applicator is defined as an individual who uses, supervises the use of, sells or buys restricted-use pesticides for any purpose other than outlined for private applicators. ommercial applicators must successfully pass a certification exam in the category of work they conduct.  Currently, Tennessee has 14 different certification categories. To maintain certification, all commercial pesticide applicators must obtain the required continuing education credits (CEUs) in the category of their certification or retest in the same category. Each certification category has different CEU/point requirements.

Many county extension offices offer training commercial applicator CEUs, so applicators may want to contact their local county extension office for more information concerning pesticide certification. They may also visit the Pesticide Safety Education Program website:

Due to recent regulation changes, the commercial applicator certification period has been extended.   Previously, October 21, was designated as the end of the certification period. However, the new regulations have changed this date to December 31 of each year.

If commercial applicators would like to maintain their certification, they should attend enough recertification training sessions to obtain credit in the required time frame as directed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture regulations. Commercial applicators need to remember that CEUs differ for each certification category and have to be accrued throughout the certification cycle. 

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.



Darrell Hensley, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, 865-974-7958,


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