Licensing Overview

Licenses are required for safe and effective use of pesticides to control pests. The certification and licensing program protects the environment and public from adverse affects that may be caused from unsafe and incorrect use. Visit the Colorado Department of Agriculture to find more information about which applicator license is right for you. 

Private Applicator

If you need a private applicator license, see the options below for taking the open-book exam. Remember, private applicators are required to comply with the Colorado Pesticide Applicators’ Act and the associated Rules and Regulations. If you need to renew your current license, click here. As of October 1, 2020, all renewals are processed online

Renewal Process


Applicants for private applicator licenses must:

  1. Submit an order form with a payment of $20 for the private applicator exam and manual (or see other options below).
  2. Successfully complete the private applicator exam.
  3. Submit the $75 license fee with the application, exam answer sheet and a copy of your driver’s license.

Taking the exam

You have two options for taking the test:

  1. Online: take the test online through the CDA. It costs $20 and you have 30 days to complete the exam.
  2. Paper test: you can get the printed study guide and test from the CDA for $20. There is no time limit to return the test.

Expiration & Continuing Education

Private applicator licenses expire 3 years from your birth-date. The renewal fee is $75. In order to renew your license, you must either:

  • Obtain all required continuing education credits (CECs) PRIOR to your license expiring and submit your renewal before the expiration date. All renewals must be made online.
  • Retest and resubmit an application (start the certification process over again).

You MUST have already passed the Private Applicator exam and the CDA must have your score OR have earned all the renewal credits required. If you have any questions please contact the CDA at (303) 869-9064 or by email.

Renewing After your License Expired?

If you have earned ALL your CECs and submit your renewal after the expiration date, you are subject to a late fee:

  • Renewing within 30 days after license expired, you’re subject to a $7.50 late fee.
  • Renewing within 180 days after license expired, you’re subject to a $20 late fee.
  • Renewing beyond 180 days after license is expired is NOT allowed and you must retake the exam.

If you have not earned all the required CECs, retake the exam and apply for a new license.

If you choose to renew through CECs, you must obtain 1 or 2 credits in each of 6 different categories:

  1. Applicator Safety (1 credit)
  2. Environmental Protection (1 credit)
  3. Laws and Regulations (2 credits)
  4. Pesticides and Their Families (1 credit)
  5. Public Safety (1 credit)
  6. Use of Pesticides (1 credit)

Find upcoming CEC workshops on our Workshop Calendar.

Commercial Applicator

If you wish to apply for pesticides “for hire,” you will need to become a licensed commercial applicator in one or more of the 21 categories designated by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. There are two types of licenses for commercial applicators. Check out the Colorado Department of Agriculture for more information on what commercial applicator license is right for you.

Certified Operators vs. Qualified Supervisors

Certified Operators

If you have little experience applying pesticides and will not be recommending or selling pest control measures, this is the license you should obtain. You will have to work under the supervision of a qualified supervisor. To become a CO, you must:

  • Pass the CO general exam plus the CO exams in all categories for which you wish to be licensed. All exams are scheduled online. Each exam costs $31.50.
  • After passing the General Exam and at least one category, submit a $100 license fee with your license application.

Qualified Supervisors

You should obtain this type of license if you have the required experience in the category in which you’d like to be licensed; and if you will evaluate pest problems, sell or recommend pest control measures, or supervise others in the application of pesticides. To become a QS, you must:

  • Pass the the QS general exam plus the QS exams in all categories for which you wish to be licensed. All exams are scheduled online. Each exam costs $31.50.
  • Possess the experience and qualifications required by the rules and regulations for each category in which you wish to be licensed. These are described below. When you pass your exams, you must document your experience/education and provide it to CDA. An individual may take a QS exam without meeting the experience requirement but will only be licensed as a CO until the experience is earned and documented with CDA. At that time, the license will be upgraded to a QS without additional retesting.
  • After passing the General Exam and at least one category, submit a $100 license fee with your license application.

Taking the Exam


Preparing for the exam is your responsibility. Reading the Pesticide Applicators’ Act (Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 35, Article 10) and its associated Rules and Regulations may not be the most fun thing in the world but doing so will help you on your exam. The previous links are ‘unofficial’ copies. The official versions must be obtained through “LexisNexis.”

In addition to these laws, you can obtain both the General Pesticide Applicator Training Manual and guides for all categories from the National Pesticide Safety Education Center. Study hard!

Signing up for the Exam

CDA has partnered with Metro Institute (an online testing company) and Colorado State University Extension to enhance the testing requirements for individuals interested in acquiring a license as qualified supervisor or a certified operator. This partnership has given individuals an opportunity to take the exam at various testing centers around Colorado. As a result of the partnership, CDA has changed the qualified supervisor/certified operator examination procedures.

In order to take a QS or CO exam, you must follow these steps:

  1. Sign up for your Pesticide Applicator exam through the Metro Institute Website.
  2. You will receive an email verifying that you are using a valid email address. The email will also provide you with a link to continue your application process.
  3. The link takes you to a webpage which contains your username/password and a login address for that site. **Print your username/password and keep it somewhere handy! This same username/password will be used if you need to retest due to examination failure OR if you would like to add a category later on.
  4. Provide your employer address or firm name on this page. If self-employed, or not affiliated with a company, type N/A in the Employer field. Click continue.
  5. Select exam categories based on whether you want to test as Qualified Supervisor or Certified Operator. Click continue.
  6. The Colorado Department of Agriculture will review your application and then tell you that you can schedule your test by returning to Metro Institute’s Website. (Testing locations are listed below.) When you return to the Metro site, you will be required to provide your username and password.

Passing the exam

A score of 70% or better is a passing score. Because testing is computer-based, you will receive your score from the site proctor as soon as you finish. If you have passed, you will be given the paperwork for your license application. Complete the application and submit it to CDA with your $100 license fee.

Exam scores are valid for one year from the date of the passed exam. There is no additional license fee when upgrading from a CO to a QS if the QS exam was taken and passed, and experienced earned. There is also no additional license fee to add categories to a current license after passing the category exam.


If you fail the general exam or any category, you must retake those exams. You can apply to retest by logging into the Metro Institute. You must use your previously given username/password from your initial application. *Your username is usually firstname.lastname. If you forgot your password, click forgot password. After entering your username, Metro Institute will email you your new password.

Adding Categories

After obtaining your Commercial License, you can add categories by taking the appropriate exam(s). Again, you must log in using your previously given username/password from your initial application. After passing, you will have to complete a new license application but you will not have to pay an additional license fee.

Testing under COVID 19 conditions

Testing Center Days/Times during COVID 19

Expiration and Recertification

Both QS and CO licenses expire 3 years from the licensee’s birth-date. The renewal fee is $100. You must submit your renewal before the expiration date; if it is submitted up to 30 days after the expiration date, you will pay a late fee. In order to renew your license, you must either:

  • Earn the required continuing education credits; or
  • Re-take the exam and apply for a new license within 30 days after the expiration date.

Learn more about re-certification.

INITIAL APPLICATIONS & RENEWALS: Commercial applicators are now required to renew online as of October 1, 2020. 

Initial License Application Link [You must pass your exams (the General exam & at least 1 Category exam)  BEFORE you complete the application!]

Online License Renewal Link

Types of Business Licenses

Licenses for Businesses

There are 3 types of pesticide application licenses for businesses: Commercial License, Limited Commercial Registration, and Public Registration.

  • Commercial License – Primary business use is to apply either general use or restricted use pesticides (RUPs) in exchange for monetary compensation.
  • Limited Commercial Registration – Application of RUPs, but only to property owned or leased by employer. **If you apply only general use pesticides, you do NOT need to register, but you may do so voluntarily.
  • Public Registration – Application of RUPs as an agency of the state, any county, city, or municipality or any other local government entity.

Applicants for Commercial Business Licenses must:

  • Employ or have available at least 1 qualified supervisor (QS) commercial applicator licensed in the category of application.
  • Provide proof of required insurance. Complete this Certificate of Evidence of Insurance .
  • Complete the Business License Applicator form and submit to CDA.
  • Submit a Certificate of Good Standing from the Secretary of State if the applicant is a corporation, a limited liability partnership, or a limited liability company.
  • If an aerial applicator, provide a copy of certification issued by the FAA; and
  • Submit an annual $350 license fee with the application.
For more information about business licenses, contact CDA at (303) 869-9066 or by email.

Limited Commercial or Public License Registration

Any business or public agency that is operating as a Limited Commercial or Public Applicator and applying RUPs, MUST register with CDA and employ at least one Qualified Supervisor Commercial Applicator for every category where they apply pesticides. Persons working for limited commercial or public applicators that apply only General Use pesticides (GUPs) and DO NOT apply RUPs, do not require a Commercial Applicator license. If the applicator does obtain a commercial applicator license, the business or agency may voluntarily register with CDA if only applying GUPs.

Applicants must:

  • Submit the Registration Form to CDA.
  • Submit a Certificate of Good Standing from the Secretary of State if the applicant is a corporation, a limited liability partnership, or a limited liability company.
  • Employ or have available at least one qualified supervisor commercial applicator licensed in the proper category of application.
  • If an aerial applicator, provide a copy of certification issued by the FAA; and
  • Submit an annual $50 registration fee.
For more information on limited commercial and/or public license registration, contact CDA at (303) 869-9063 or by email.

Reciprocal License

Click Here For Reciprocal License Application

If you hold a pesticide applicator’s license granted by another state or jurisdiction, there are a few things you need to know:

  1. You can become a licensed private applicator or certified operator in Colorado without passing any examinations.
  2. However, this reciprocal license is valid only for the unexpired term of your current license.
  3. In order to obtain your reciprocal license, you must:
    – Provide proof of current certification and licensure in good standing from the other jurisdiction; and
    – Pay an application fee.
  4. You will be licensed as a Certified Operator and must work under a Colorado Qualified Supervisor licensed in the categories where you will be making applications.
  5. Your reciprocal license will expire on the same day your license in the other jurisdiction expires.
  6. You cannot renew a reciprocal license by completing continuing education credits. You may, however, renew by:
    – Applying for renewal based on reciprocity OR
    – By taking the Colorado examinations and satisfying all other requirements for licensure in Colorado.
For more information on reciprocal licensure, contact CDA at (303) 869-9065 or by email.

Technician Training

A technician is a person whose job involves the use of pesticides, but who is not a certified operator or qualified supervisor. The Colorado Department of Agriculture is very specific about the hours of training required for certain classes of pesticide application technicians. The CDA defines three classes of technician, with further subdivisions.

  • Technician Training Verification Form

Types of Technicians:

  • Applicator Technician – Use a restricted use pesticide while under the on-site supervision of a qualified supervisor or will act as a flagger. 
  • Experienced Technician – Trained and has acquired the following minimum experience within the last three years: Agricultural Categories, one season; Turf and Ornamental, one season; Structural Categories, six months.
    • New Hire Experienced: Technician has been newly hired by the company.
    • On-going Experienced: Technician continues to work for the same company. 
  • Sales Technician – Sole job is to sell pesticide application services. 
  • Sales and Applicator Technician – Will act as both an applicator and salesperson. 


For the following tables, refer to the definitions below.

  • Structural I: Includes the categories of Wood Destroying Organism Pest Control, Fumigation, and Residential/Commercial Pest Control
  • Structural II: Includes the categories of Outdoor Vertebrate Control, Stored Commodities Treatment, Wood Preservation and Treatment, and Interior Plant Pest Control
  • Classroom: Instructional training covering State, Federal, and local laws and regulations
    • Environmental precautions
    • Pesticide use
    • Equipment and calibration
    • Pesticides and their families
    • Pest management
    • Applicator safety
    • Pesticide labels and labeling
    • Host and pest identification
    • Public safety
  • Classroom Pest ID: Instructional training covering pest management and host and pest identificaion
  • On-the-Job: Training provided while the technician is performing their duties. Some of this training (the number in parentheses) must be provided by a licensed QS or CO who has at least 1 season of pesticide application experience within the last 2 years.
  • Discretionary: These hours may be divided between classroom instructional training and on-the-job training as needed.

Applicator Technicians


Applicator technicians.

New Hired Experienced Technicians


New hire experienced technicians.

On-Going Experienced Technicians


On-going experienced technicians.

Sales Technicians


Sales technicians.

Applicator and Sales Technicians


Applicator and sales technicians.

Non-Registered Applicator

Why should I take this training? 

This course fulfills the training requirement (as described in the Pesticide Applicators’ Act as defined in Sections 35-10-109 (2)(a) and (2)(b) of the Colorado Revised Statutes) for limited commercial and public applicators who DO NOT hold a Colorado Department of Agriculture Commercial Pesticide Applicator license. Non-licensed limited commercial and public applicators are required to meet the training requirement within three years PRIOR to the date of any application. More information on this requirement can be found in the Rules and Regulations Pertaining to the Administration and Enforcement of the Pesticide Applicators’ Act, Part 16.

This training program can also be used to fulfill 2.5 hours of Commercial Applicator Technician Training (as required in Part 5 of 8 CCR 1203-2, “Rules and Regulations Pertaining to the Administration and Enforcement of the Pesticide Applicators’ Act). 

Do you need this training?

Non-registered applicator flow chart.

What is in the training?

The training consists of five interactive modules that are self-paced. Module content includes core elements of pesticide use including IPM and Laws Governing the Use of Pesticides; Understanding Pesticide Labels and Safety Data Sheets; Applicator Safety; Pesticide Application; and Environmental Protection and Public Health. At the conclusion of each module, an “Understanding the Module” quiz will be given. All questions on the quiz must be answered correctly or the participant will be redirected to the information concerning the incorrect response. Upon successful completion of all five modules, a certificate will be issued. This certificate should be retained by the employer for a period of three years.

Instructions on Accessing the Training

Step 1. Click HERE to register for the Non-Credit Course through eXtension Online Campus.  Please view these modules using Chrome or Firefox browsers. They may not record your progress properly when viewed in Internet Explorer.

Step 2. Click on “Create new account” below the Login box.

Step 3. Read the “Privacy Policy” and click “Next.”

Step 4. Read the “Terms of Use” and click “Next.”

Step 5. Agree to “Privacy Policy” and “Terms of Use” by clicking the checkbox and then “Next.”

Step 6. Choose your username and password. Complete the remaining sections entitled “More Details” and “Demographics.” Then click “Create my new account.”

Step 7.  Confirm your account by clicking the link in the email from eXtension. It will be sent to the email address entered when registering.

Step 8. After creating an account, simply return to the eXtension Campus and login.

Step 9. Select the “Pest Management” tab and scroll down to the “Colorado Basic Pesticide Training.” There is NO FEE required for this training! Or click HERE to directly access the training. It can be difficult to find in the list due to many states offering courses!