Spray technicians apply chemicals to plants, and maintain, service, and operate the equipment used. Although a high school diploma is the only required education for this career, many spray technicians are required to have a state license for the application of pesticides.
A spray technician, or pesticide handler, applies herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides into soil or onto plants. They may work as part of the grounds-keeping crew for establishments such as golf courses and schools, or for chemical lawn services. Employers usually prefer a high school diploma or equivalent in addition to state licensure for pesticide application.
|Required Education||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Other Requirements||State license|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||6% (for all grounds maintenance workers)|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$32,540 annually (for pesticide handlers, sprayers, and applicators)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description for a Spray Technician
A spray technician may be employed by a wide variety of employers, including local and state governments, wholesalers, elementary and secondary schools, lawn and landscaping companies, parks, and recreation facilities. The technician is responsible for properly mixing and applying herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides to trees, lawns, shrubs, or botanical crops. The spray technician is usually required to have a state license for pesticide application. This usually includes taking a test on proper use and disposal of pesticides.
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Job Duties for a Spray Technician
A spray technician is usually responsible for mixing chemicals and water in sprayer tanks and applying the pesticides in the needed amount, which may depend on weather conditions and application variables. The technician may need to manipulate nozzles, tubes, or hoses during spray application. The technician may be responsible for operating motors or machinery on some spray equipment, as well as may need to use a variety of vehicles for transportation over larger areas. The technician may need to clean and service tools and machinery.
Salary for a Spray Technician
The median annual salary of a pesticide handler and sprayer in May 2015 was $32,540, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The median hourly wage was $15.64. Most pesticide handlers earned between $22,270 and $48,860 a year or $10.93 to $23.49 an hour.
Career Outlook for a Spray Technician
According to the BLS, employment of ground maintenance workers was expected to increase about as fast as the national average for the years from 2014 to 2024. This was predicted to be due to several factors, including an increased demand from institutions attempting to attract personnel and clients through good landscape design, two-income household homeowners lacking the time and increasingly hiring services, and an increased elderly population requiring assistance in yard care. Temperate climates are likely to require grounds maintenance year-long, and job opportunities may be affected by local economic conditions.
Spray technicians mix and apply various chemicals to crops, trees, shrubs, soil, and lawns. Many need a state license, which typically involves passing an exam covering how to properly handle and dispose of chemicals. The steady growth for ground maintenance workers predicted through 2024, including spray technicians, is partly due to the increasing demand for landscape design.