Contractor Licensing

Anytime a contractor applies a pesticide outdoors as part of his or her paid service to the County, the contractor must be licensed. This is the case even if the pesticide is only applied occasionally or as part of the routine maintenance of landscaping with only one exception[1]. The type of license(s) required depends on the purpose of the application, pests being controlled, proximity to a structure, and other variables. For some types of work, one or more permits may also be required. Appendix A has a summary of the requirements for any vendor or County employee who applies pesticides.

Most of the pesticide applications applied on property owned or managed by the County will fall under one of three use categories which are: Structural, Industrial/Institutional, and Non-production Agricultural. The following is a brief explanation of each category and the accompanying licensing requirements for contractors.

Structural Pesticide Use

Structural Pesticide Use means the use of pesticides for eliminating, exterminating, controlling, or preventing pests which may invade households or other structures. Examples of some very common pests controlled by a structural use of a pesticide include things like termites, Argentine ants, and cockroaches. State law has divided the practice of structural pest control into three “Branches”. [2] The purpose of this is to limit a pest control operator to only those pest control activities for which the operator is specifically qualified. These “Branches” are:

Branch 1 (Fumigation) – Control of household and wood-destroying pests (usually termites) by fumigation with a poisonous or lethal gas. Household pests are defined as those pests other than wood destroying pests (termites), which invade households and other structures including rodents, ants, cockroaches and pantry pests.

Branch 2 (General Pests) – Control of household pests excluding fumigation with poisonous or lethal gases.

Branch 3 (Termites) – Control of wood-destroying pests by the use of insecticides or structural repairs and corrections, excluding fumigation with poisonous or lethal gases.

Before engaging in any structural pest control work, including advertising or soliciting for work, making inspections for the purpose of identifying infestations or infections, providing an inspection report, recommendation, or estimate, the company must first be registered with the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Structural Pest Control Board (SPCB), and the County through ACWM. The registered company must have a designated Qualifying Manager who is licensed by the SPCB as an Operator. The Designated Manager/Operator must be licensed in the Branch or Branches of pest control performed by the registered company.

Registered structural pest control companies may also utilize the services of a licensed Field Representative and/or licensed Applicator. Field Representatives may secure structural pest control work, identify infestations or infections, make inspections, apply pesticides, submit bids for or otherwise contract on behalf of a registered company. A pest control field representative may not contract for pest control work or perform pest control work on his or her own behalf. An Applicator is licensed in Branch 2 and Branch 3 and can only perform work while working for a registered structural pest control company.

Industrial/Institutional Pesticide Use:

Industrial/institutional pesticide use is performed on property necessary for the operation of warehouses, factories, and buildings like schools, hospitals, offices, etc. When controlling household pests near buildings, there is some overlap with certain types of work performed pursuant to a Branch 2, Structural License. As a general rule, a company licensed only for structural pest control should not be attempting to control non-household pests and a contractor providing industrial/institutional pest control should not be attempting to control pests inside of structures. Industrial/institutional also includes pesticide applications in landscaping to a degree, but not in large, open spaces like parks, golf courses, and recreation areas. The following table lists examples of locations that are considered industrial or institutional use.

Table 4 – List of some industrial/institutional pesticide-use sites

  • Airports
  • Amusement parks
  • Clubhouse landscape
  • Construction sites
  • Food manufacturing plants
  • Grain elevators
  • Homeowner Association
  • Hospitals
  • Libraries
  • Lumber yards
  • Nursery schools
  • Office complex (around outside)
  • Office parking lots
  • Oil wells
  • Paper mills
  • Ports
  • Restaurants
  • Schools
  • Sewage treatment plants
  • Sewer lines
  • Shipyards
  • Swimming Pools
  • Water treatment plants
  • Zoos

For a contractor to apply pesticides for hire in an industrial/institutional setting, the company must have one of the following licenses issued by CDPR:

  1. Pest Control Business License: This license allows a company to apply pesticides in an industrial/institutional setting except inside structures. The company must also have a designated Qualified Person in a supervisory position holding a valid Qualified Applicator License (QAL) issued by CDPR in the category of pest control performed by the company. Section 14 has a general explanation of the license categories. Many companies also have employees that possess a CDPR issued Qualified Applicator Certificate (QAC), but this is not a legal requirement unless applications of a Restricted-Use pesticide are planned.
  1. Maintenance Gardener Pest Control Business License: This license is required for companies providing maintenance gardening service who occasionally apply pesticides in support of their primary business. This license allows application of pesticides in outdoor ornamental, garden and turf areas near buildings, commercial parks, brick walls, fountains, fences, statues, etc. It does not include large open space areas such as in parks, golf courses or cemeteries. The company must also have at least one designated person in a supervisory position that holds a valid QAC with a category Q (Maintenance Gardener) or B (Landscape Maintenance).

Non-Production Agricultural Pesticide Use:

An outdoor application of a pesticide at any of the use sites listed in Table 3 is considered a non-production agricultural use of the pesticide. There may be sub-areas within the sites where a pesticide application is allowed under a Structural or Maintenance Gardener Pest Control Business license.   Refer to the previous sections to see where this may be the case.

For a contractor to apply pesticides for hire in a non-production agricultural setting, the company must have a Pest Control Business License and a Qualified Person in a supervisory role. The Qualified Person must have a QAL in the category of pest control performed by the company.

In addition to the above, the company must provide a Written Recommendation covering the proposed pesticide use. The Recommendation must be furnished to the operator of the property prior to the application. Written Recommendations are required by law to contain certain information and they can only be written by a licensed Pest Control Advisor or designated individuals from ACWM. Section 15 has more information on the required Written Recommendations.

Questions about Contractor’s Licensing?

Determining what types of licenses and/or permits are required for a contractor who may apply a pesticide can be challenging. In ACWM’s role as the principal regulatory agency in the County for pesticide-use, it is ACWM’s experience that in many cases the contractors themselves may not always know. For this reason, County departments are strongly encouraged to have someone in ACWM’s Pesticide Regulatory Division review proposed solicitations (IFB, RFP, RFSQ), including the Minimum Requirements and Statement of Work, for any solicitation for services where the application of a pesticide is a possibility.

Approval of County and Contractor Pesticides

The ACWM Pesticide Regulatory Division shall review and approve all pesticides used by contractors or purchased by County departments to ensure no banned or unregistered products are stored or applied. The approval shall also include a general evaluation of the anticipated use sites and target pests to see if the proposed use is legal and appropriate. In any solicitation for services at a County facility where the outdoor application of a pesticide is part of the services, the solicitation documents (RFB, RFP, and RFSQ) shall list the pesticides the contractor will be authorized to use or shall require bidders/proposers to submit a list of pesticides they intend to use as part of the Required Forms. ACWM must approve the pesticides before the RFB/RFP/RFSQ is released. ACWM approval is not required for purchases of consumer products, packaged for consumer use at projected use amounts not greater than typical consumer amounts.

Quantifying Contractor Pesticide Use

In addition to the monthly pesticide use reporting required by State law (see Section 15), contractors must provide to the contracting department an annual summary of the pesticides used outdoors. For each pesticide, the summary shall include:

  • Product trade name
  • Active ingredient
  • EPA Registration Number
  • Total amount used

The units reported may be appropriate to the product (gallons, ounces, pounds, etc.). The contracting County department shall report contractor use of pesticides annually to the ACWM IPM Division (see Section 22).

Attestation of Adherence to the County’s Countywide IPM Program

Language attesting adherence to the Countywide IPM Program must be included in all County solicitations (IFB, RFP, and RFSQ) where the outdoor application of a pesticide is or may be part of the services being requested. The attestation shall include all applicable principles of IPM summarized in sub-sections I, III and IV of Section 21.0 RESPONSIBILITIES and EXPECTATIONS (below).

[1] Persons doing pest control incidental to new construction including construction work in establishing new landscapes

[2] California Business and Professions Code, section 8560