How to get a pest control licence

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To carry out commercial or residential pest control you need a licence. The pest control industry in the UK is booming. Last year, it generated approximately £474 million in revenue and employed nearly 7,000 people. However pest control should only ever be carried out by licensed professionals. Learn how to get a pest control licence and the courses that will allow you to take the plunge and become a pest controller.

Despite recent setbacks, pest control industry in the UK is expected to grow significantly over the next five years as awareness of its importance increases. With hospitals, restaurants, offices and homes all requiring pest control services, there’s never been a better time to get into the industry. If you’re considering taking the plunge and becoming a pest controller, here’s what you need to know.

How to become a pest control technician in UK

Most people enter the pest control industry by mere happenstance. They look for pest control jobs in London, screen for any suitable job description they feel could be a suitable match, apply and wait. On the other side, an employer receives applications and screens them for any elements that may trigger interest. But any individual who would have taken any steps on how to get a pest control licence would have a head start.

Is there an ideal background to become a pest control technician

If you have a trade or field background, you may stand a better chance of being selected for a job, even without previous pest control experience. Experience in building, plumbing, electricity and general maintenance industries can provide the necessary skills to carry out pest control treatments. Experience in driving and client interaction skills will allow you to be on time and provide the best pest control experience.

But there are no rules. The best mouse proofing technician I ever had was previously a take-away food driver for a local restaurant. I initially dismissed his profile as irrelevant, but since he lived in an area of interest, I invited him for a trial session. The gentleman worked slowly but flawlessly, and was sharp and confident. His first mouse proofings were taking two hours more than any other technician’s, but were always perfect. With time, he gained more experience and soon he caught up in speed. He turned out to be the greatest asset to our company.

Gaining any field experience before applying for pest control jobs

As a student, I started in applied biology because I was chasing something practical rather than academic. Then I studied sewer treatment plans and microorganism manipulation for bio-pest control at the University of Edinburgh. I wrote my dissertation about the use of certain bacteria to inoculate fields to prevent pests. At one stage I considered my options: move on to academia and chase a Ph.D., or go to work?

When looking for a job,I first visited companies and services I didn’t want to work for. I recall fondly the meeting I had with the Council of Hackney’s Head of Pest Control. We arranged for me to shadow a pest control technician for a few days, and this made all the difference. It gave me the chance to see firsthand what the job involves, and also to show my commitment.

When I finally went for the job I was chasing, I interviewed with Lambeth Council. I was able to share not only what I gained from my degree, making me suitable for the position, but I could also spike my answers with real-life experience and let my genuine interest speak for itself. But the fact that I had done a pest control course at the university weighted heavily as well.

Learning about pests and pest control before you commit

Pest control goes well beyond simply putting down poison and picking up a dead animal. There is so much knowledge and understanding that must be gathered. Any person considering joining the industry needs to be committed enough to put in the necessary hard work.

You can acquire knowledge and know-how, as there is plenty of information online about pests. I myself try to publish as much quality content as I can, and I never stop adding to it. But I would say that the general attitude is the most important aspect of any technician. If you do not care about the job and your clients, you are no good for anyone. A good attitude and respect for the job goes a long way.

How do I set up a pest control business?

There are two routes to setting up a pest control business. You can either become a self-employed pest control technician or register a limited company with Company. Then, you must get sufficient insurance coverage. The standard Public Liability coverage is £2,000,000. However, most companies like Inoculand Ltd. have £10,000,000 allowing them to become a service provider for large businesses and chains of shops.

In order to be able to work in the pest control industry professionally, you must be able to purchase professional-grade pesticides and pest control products. And providers can only supply individuals or companies that hold a professional pest control qualification such as the RSPH Level 2 Award in Pest Management.

Even with required certification but no field experience, avoid offering pest control services to clients to prevent potentially fatal mistakes. Before a trainee pest control technician is allowed to work unsupervised in the field, they must complete three months of training by shadowing a senior technician.

Otherwise, it’s best to partner with an experienced technician or employ a certified pest controller from day one.

How to get a pest control licence

You don’t need a specific licence to become a pest controller. However, the majority of companies won’t take you on without some form of relevant education or pest control course.

If you’re just starting out, the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) recommends taking their Foundation Certificate in Pest Management to get an overview of what a pest controller does and why. You can complete the course in just a few hours.

A more thorough qualification is the Level 2 Certificate in Pest Management – General Pest Control. This is one that most pest control companies will look out for. Not only does this course provide you with more in-depth knowledge of the behaviour of certain pests, it also includes practical lessons on how to safely and effectively store and use pesticides.

Although you’ll likely learn a lot on the job, there are many other courses available for you to develop your knowledge and become a better controller. The best ones are those offered by BPCA and the National Pest Technician Association (NPTA).

Other permits

Aside from qualifications that will arm you with the knowledge to be an effective pest controller, you may also need a permit from Natural England or Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to fulfil your duties. These permits are geared more towards the removal of ‘protected’ species in the UK and don’t concern common pests like rats, bed bugs and cockroaches.

There are four categories of permits available:

  • General licence: A licence needed for low-risk work such as catching birds for air safety purposes or great crested newts for research.
  • Class licence: This is required for work that calls for a specific skill or experience to avoid risks posed to protected species. It includes things like the ability to survey barn owls or release non-native bumblebees for research in a commercial setting.
  • Individual licence: This is required for any activity that affects a protected species not covered by the first two categories of licence. A full list of animals it applies to can be found here.
  • Organisational licence: This is what your pest control company will have if it regularly works with protected species.

An effective, professional pest control company should be able to demonstrate their expertise through the right qualifications and a solid foundation of experience. How to get a pest control licence is by putting in the necessary hard work and commitment. At Inoculand, all of our dedicated pest control specialists have exactly this, ensuring that all clients, whether commercial or residential, receive the best service possible. Get in touch with us to find out how we can solve your pest problems.