Career Definition for a Pesticide Handler
Pesticide handlers acquire, mix and apply pesticides for commercial farms, landscapers, private residences or nurseries. Some professionals may work for chemical lawn and tree services. Application methods may include dusting, spraying or adding the chemicals directly to soils. All pesticide handlers must follow strict health and safety regulations as imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
|Education||No formal education required; some employers may prefer candidates with a certificate in arboriculture, horticulture or landscaping|
|Job Skills||Independent with good customer service and math skills; physical stamina important|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$35,320 (for pesticide handlers, sprayers and applicators)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||8% (for pesticide handlers, sprayers and applicators)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Formal education is usually not required to become a pesticide handler, and most training takes place on the job, usually over a short period of time. Individual employers may show a preference for candidates with a certificate or postsecondary coursework in arboriculture, horticulture or landscaping. Many states require pesticide handlers to be licensed, which involves a passing score on an exam. Pesticide applicators must also be trained in the use of proper safety measures, as designated by the EPA's worker protection standards (WPS).
Pesticide handlers must have the math skills necessary for measuring, mixing and evaluating the effectiveness of pesticides. Physical stamina and the ability to work independently are also important; customer service skills may be helpful when dealing with the public.
Career and Economic Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment opportunities for pesticide handlers, sprayers and applicators are expected to grow by an average rate of 8% between 2016 and 2026. In areas that experience true winters, pesticide handlers may only be hired on a seasonal basis. According to the BLS, pesticide handlers, sprayers and applicators earned median annual wages of $35,320 in May 2018.
Alternate Career Options
Other careers that are similar to pesticide handling include:
Agricultural workers, such as those who work on farms, may also apply fertilizers and pesticides to crops and other forms of vegetation. Agricultural work is a labor-intensive occupation that may include examining animals, herding livestock or operating machinery. A high school diploma is not required to begin working in the field, and training usually takes place on the job. As noted by the BLS, the number of job openings for agricultural workers is expected to experience little to no change from 2016 to 2026. As of May 2018, agricultural workers employed by farms, greenhouses and nurseries, were paid median yearly wages of $24,320.
Forest and Conservation Workers
A high school diploma is required to obtain a job as a forest and conservation worker, another labor-intensive position that typically includes on-the-job training. Individuals who are interested in advancing in the field or becoming technicians may want to pursue an associate or bachelor's degree program in conservation, forest management or wildlife studies. According to the BLS, employment between 2016 and 2026 is expected to decrease by 2%. The median yearly salary for a forest and conservation worker in May 2018 was $27,460.