Common Questions

Below are some common questions we get about pesticide certification and licensing.  If your question isn’t answered here, contact us! Use the contacts listed on the Home Page.

I’m having trouble using the PAT store to order study materials.

This podcast walks you through the ordering process and may help you out.

What is a PAT Number and why is it important?

The PAT Number is a 6-digit number that you get when you receive your training materials.  If you purchase a book, it is on the certificate folded and stuck to the first page of the book.  If you purchase a pdf or online course, it is sent to you when you receive your pdf manual link (in the title of the email and attached as your certificate).  Before COVID when taking the test with The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) you would have to give them a certificate with your name and PAT Number on it.  With the COVID restrictions requiring an online test, you now have to provide this PAT Number in both the registration for the test AND the test itself.  Failure to do so will mean that you do not get the test invite or you may not have your certification processed.  Think of it as an E-ticket.

This number does three things:

  1. It assures that the required fee is paid (this fee has to be paid every time you are certified in any category).
  2. It tells DATCP that you have received the same training information as everybody who is seeking certification in the State of Wisconsin.
  3. It connects your certification to a training record that has to be keep for the State.

Am I a commercial or private pesticide applicator?

We explain the difference between commercial and private applicators on the bottom half of the “Certification” page.

I don’t know what certification category I need to be in.  How can I find out?

We have a list of categories that help guide you to the right one.  If you are still unsure, please feel free to contact us at or give us a call at 608-262-7588.

What is the difference between a commercial applicator for-hire and a commercial applicator not-for-hire?

You are a commercial applicator for-hire if you apply or direct the use of pesticides for others on a contract basis and make those applications on property not owned by yourself or your employer.
You are a commercial applicator not-for-hire If you apply or direct the use of pesticides only to sites that your employer controls, and do not contract out your pesticide application services.

What is “certification” and what do I have to do to get certified?

Find out what “certification” means and who needs to be certified to apply pesticides on the “Certification” page.

Follow the steps below to get certified:

  1. Purchase the Certification Training Fee with either printed manual ($47), PDF e-manual ($35) or online course ($50 also includes the PDF manual). Check out this podcast for an introduction to these choices:  What Should I Order? Go to the PAT Store to make that purchase with a credit card. Sorry, but we cannot take credit card orders over the phone.
  2. After you’ve studied the training material and feel you’re ready for the exam, schedule your exam through DATCP. If you are signed up for a training/review session, the exam is given at that site at the end of the day. You MUST provide the Training Registration Certificate to DATCP at time of testing to have your exam scored.
  3. Pass the exam (70% to pass). Certification lasts for 5 years. After 5 years, you must recertify (purchase updated training material and take the exam).
  4. Some applicators will ALSO need to get a license. We explain that in the question below.

Quick Certification Flow Chart

How do pesticide licenses work and where do I apply for them? [commercial applicators only]

Once you are certified (good for 5 years), then you have to apply for a Pesticide Applicator License.  This is an annual charge. Each individual applicator needs a license and each application business needs a business license. Pesticide applicator licenses all expire December 31st.  This link will take you to a help video for renewing online process.  DATCP has made a great fact sheet about all the licenses you need.

Is a pesticide applicator “license” different than “certification”?

Yes. As explained above, certification involves passing an exam to show competency in using pesticides safely and legally (certification lasts for 5 years). A license is what actually authorizes you to use pesticides. Licenses expire annually. Not every applicator needs a license.

  • Private applicators do NOT need a license (but they do need to be certified to use RUPs). Some commercial applicators DO need a license (see below).

A certified commercial pesticide applicator must have a license to use or direct the use of:

  • Any pesticide if they are a for-hire applicator.
  • A restricted-use pesticide.

Individual licenses expire every year on December 31, and are not transferable. Applicators have to carry their license when involved in commercial pesticide work. You can apply and pay for an individual license either online or by mail:

  • Electronic application and payment at
  • You can download and print a license application form here. Then mail that completed paper application form with a check.

Important: each individual commercial applicator needs a license and each business location will have to have a business license also.

I am a “not-for-hire” applicator, do I need to be certified or get a license?

A “not-for-hire” applicator is an applicator who only applies pesticides on property owned or controlled by their employer.  An example of this is a person spraying on their company’s landscaping.  In some cases “not-for-hire” applicators will need to get certified if:

  • They are using Restricted-Use Pesticides (RUPs), or
  • They are applying on public school (K-12) property, or
  • Their employer requires it (not a legal requirement, but if the boss says so…)

“Not-for-hire” applicators need to be licensed if:

  • They are using RUPs. They do not need to be licensed if using only general use pesticides.

I have not received my exam results, certification card or license yet.  Who do I contact?

For these issues contact DATCP. If you have not received your certification card or license please email  DATCP is given 30 days to provide results and cards, but it often takes between two to three weeks. Exams taken at the Dane County (commercial only) testing center are scored immediately and provide results and cards after the test. The PAT Program does not provide certification cards, applicator licenses or have access to your test results.

I lost my training registration form and I need to take the exam, what do I do?

You are required to give DATCP the training registration certificate at time of testing. DATCP will NOT process your exam without this certificate. The UW-PAT Program charges $10 for reissuing a lost certificate.  Retesting (if you fail an exam) does not require a new certificate. Certificates will ONLY be issued to applicators we have a record of purchasing the training fee.  If we have no record of that purchase then you must pay a new training fee.  The reissued certificate will go to the address in the original order unless you provide a new one. It is then the responsibility of the applicator / company to send that replacement certificate to DATCP so that your exam will be processed and scored.

I have lost my certification card or license.  Can I get another one issued?

Yes you can, please contact DATCP at and ask to have another one reissued.  Please provide your name, certification / license number and shipping address to have another sent.  Forgot your certification number or license number? No worries look it up using the links provided.

I am not going to make it to my exam.  Do I need to let DATCP know?

Yes. It is a common courtesy to open up your seat to another applicator if you can’t make it to your exam.  You can cancel at DATCP’s online test scheduling website, or contact them by email or phone at 608-224-4545.

I failed my certification exam, can I take it again?

Yes, but you may have to wait to take the exam.  On the first failure you can re-take the exam on the next available date AT LEAST 24 hours after your first one.  If you fail the second time or the third time you will have to wait 30 days from your last exam.  After that you have to wait 6 months.

Where do I go to pay the certification training fee (and get training materials)?

You order your certification training fees with training materials at the PAT Store.  Fees are charged per category selected. Private applicators, can purchase their fee and receive training at participating county extension offices.  There is a Commercial and a Private applicator section in the menu on the left at the PAT Store page.

I have a new employee, do I have to add them to my business license?

Yes.  You are supposed to add new employees to your business licenses as they are hired. Please email with a) your business license number; b) business name; c) new employee’s name and applicator license number.  They will be added to your license.

I got certified five years ago in Turf & Landscape, but took the Aquatic & Mosquito exam last year.  Does it expire when the Turf & Landscape expires?

Unfortunately yes. Certification is a five year period.  Once it starts, anything that you do in that 5-year period is considered an “amendment” [ a change or addition to a legal or statutory document ] to that existing five-year certification.  Adding categories to your five-year certification period does not have an affect on that period, meaning that the period ends at the same time no matter when you add to it. We recommend if possible achieving all the categories you need in the first year of starting your certification period.

I am a home owner and have decided to use a pesticide. Are there any resources that I can turn to for a little safety training?

There are a lot of resources out there for help with safety when regarding the use of pesticides.  Once such video is “Home Owner’s Guide to Pesticide Safety.”  Some UW PAT Produced factsheets: