*Restricted-Use Pesticide

RUPs have the potential to cause unreasonable adverse effects to the environment and injury to applicators or bystanders without added restrictions. Only a certified applicator can apply a Restricted-Use Pesticide. [ EPA information on RUPs ]

What is Certification?

Under both federal and state laws, certain pesticide applicators must be “certified” before they can legally use and apply pesticides. Under FIFRA, the federal law that governs pesticide use across the country, anyone who wants to use a Restricted-Use Pesticide* (RUP) must be certified. So, what does that mean? To prove that you’ve been trained in how to use RUPs properly, safely and legally, a person must pass an exam that shows a broad knowledge of how to use pesticides correctly. When a person passes that exam, they are then considered a certified applicator. Also, people applying pesticides “for-hire” need to be certified to apply any pesticide, RUP or not. We list other conditions below. In Wisconsin, certification is good for 5 years and people need to recertify if they want to continue using pesticides.

Do You Need to be Certified?

You must be certified if you apply or direct the use of:
  • Restricted-use pesticides (RUPs)
  • Any pesticide on a for-hire basis
  • Any pesticide in or on public schools or school grounds (K-12 public schools)
  • Any pesticide in aquatic environments
You also must be certified if you:
  • Conduct pesticide-safety training for agricultural workers or pesticide handlers as required under the Worker Protection Standard (WPS),

People are considered to be either private applicators or commercial applicators for certification purposes.

Private Applicators

*Agricultural Commodity

Means any plant or part of a plant, animal or animal product produced by a person primarily for sale, consumption, propagation, or other use by humans or animals. “Agricultural commodity” includes industrial hemp. [ 94.67(2) ]

You qualify as a private applicator if you meet both of the following criteria:

  1. You use or direct the use of pesticides for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity*.
  2. The applications occur on land owned or rented by you or your employer, or on someone else’s land if for exchange of goods or services between agricultural producers.

A private applicator may make incidental applications on someone else’s land for monetary compensation provided the applications are for the production of an agricultural commodity. Unlike applications made for exchange of goods or services, however, applications made for money are limited to a total of 500 acres spanning applications for no more than 3 different agricultural producers in any calendar year; if you exceed either limit, you are considered a commercial applicator for hire.

Commercial Applicators

Applicators who do not fit the private applicator definition are defined as commercial applicators. Commercial applicators who apply pesticides for money (contractual basis) on property not owned or rented by their employer are classified as for-hire and must be certified and licensed. Those who only apply pesticides on their employer’s property are classified as not-for-hire. They only need to be certified and licensed if using RUPs, or applying pesticides in or on K-12 public school property.

See “How to Get Started” for more info on becoming certified.