How to get a pest control licence
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 pest control courses that will allow you to take the plunge and become a pest controller.
Despite recent setbacks, pest control industry in the UK is likely to see significant growth over the next five years as more people become aware of its importance. 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
Without previous pest control experience, you may stand a better chance of being selected for a job if you have a trade or field background. Any experience in the building industry, plumbing, electricity and general maintenance is likely to provide you with the necessary skills to carry out pest control treatments. As well, any experience of driving and dealing face-to-face with clients 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. Initially I had dismissed his profile as not relevant, but he happened to live in an area of interest so 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. I then moved on to the University of Edinburgh to learn about sewer treatment plants and the manipulation of microorganism for use in bio-pest control. 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?
As I looked for a position, the first thing I did was visit companies and services I did not 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, in an interview with Lambeth Council, I was able to share not only what I gained from my degree and how that made 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, and any person considering joining the industry needs to be committed enough to put in the necessary hard work.
Knowledge and know-how can be acquired, and there is so much 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 as it allows them to become a service provider for large businesses and chains of shops.
But in order to be able to work in the pest control industry as a professional, 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 if you gain the required certification but have no prior experience of pest control field work, you should not yet offer any pest control services to prospective clients as you would be open to making 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, but 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. The course can be completed online in only a few hours.
A more thorough qualification, and one that most pest control companies will look out for, is the Level 2 Certificate in Pest Management – General Pest Control. 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).
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.