What is an Exterminator?

Exterminators (or Pest Control Technicians) have the varied and sometimes interesting job of exterminating roaches, mice, mosquitoes, wasps, spiders, termites or any other animals which are considered pests. They can be self-employed, or work for organizations that do large scale pest control for government institutions, school facilities and food manufacturing businesses.

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What does an Exterminator do?

An exterminator's main job is to get rid of pest infestations, but they also have to deal with distressed customers and educate them about the various methods that may be used when dealing with the pests. Exterminators spend a great deal of time working in pest-infested areas that usually consist of places like basements, attics and other crawl spaces. Though extermination is by no means a glamorous career, there is enough diversity in the types of pests and their various hideouts, that it is certainly not boring. In fact, exterminators might even find their jobs much more interesting than office-based, white-collar employment.

An exterminator usually works according to a specific plan. He/she usually talks to the customer about the issue first, and then conducts a thorough examination of the infested area which involves carefully examining all suspected places in the house. Exterminators also check nearby conditions to look for possible sources of the pests, like maybe a garbage or sewage disposal issue. An exterminator then discusses his findings with the customer and also informs them about the various methods that are available to solve the issue. With the customer's consent and approval, the exterminator drafts a complete plan of action, with the most drastic being the sealing of the house and thorough gassing. Mostly, however, the process is much simpler and involves spraying insecticides and/or pesticides in the correct quantity or simply setting traps. Thereafter, the exterminator must teach the customers on how to prevent similar issues in the future.

The job requires a lot of patience in dealing with customers who are often distressed about the infestations. Thus, an exterminator must have knowledge of how to deal with such people and their emotions. There might also be children in the house who might find the idea of killing things disturbing, and it is the exterminator's job to gently explain to them the various diseases and problems that can be caused by an insect infestation in the house.

What does it take to be an Exterminator?

To meet the basic requirements, most states and provinces require that you are 18 years of age and have never been convicted of a crime, especially involving the environment. And It goes without saying that you should not have a fear of pests or where they live.

Each state and province has a department that regulates the requirements and licensing of exterminators, so you would need to complete an approved training program and get a license for the area in which you live. This also means fulfilling the requirements for the number of hours that you must work under the supervision of a licensed professional.

You will have to take a Core exam that will access your mastery of basic concepts. This will include safety procedures, knowing the rules and regulations, being able to mix the correct ratio of chemicals and knowing how to apply them. Identification of pests and how to eliminate the infestation will also be tested. You will also be given another exam that is more specific to the field that you would like to specialize in.

You will be given an exterminator's license after passing all the exams and requirements needed to satisfy the state or province you live in.

Exterminators who want to be self-employed must have liability insurance while those working for an organization must ensure that the company provides full liability insurance as it is required by law. Various industries that employ exterminators include medical and surgical hospitals, colleges, universities and professional schools; bakeries and the local government.

Besides these technical qualifications, being an exterminator also means that one should be comfortable with working in cramped spaces, including basements and attics. As exterminators can be exposed to harsh chemicals, they must fulfill the physical requirements as well. They must be knowledgeable about various protection techniques that are used to minimize exposure and should have proper training in dealing with an emergency.

As exterminators have to discuss a lot of subjects regarding infestations with the customer, they must also possess good communication and interpersonal skills.

A good driving record is also necessary as there will be much time spent on the road.

What is the workplace of an Exterminator like?

Self-employed exterminators can have a varied schedule and set their own working hours, while those that are employed by a corporation have a fixed working schedule. In both cases however, a lot of time is spent driving to and from various appointments.

Exterminators mostly work in cramped and possibly dirty places that include basements, attics and even house foundations. Exterminators also sometimes have to identify the source of an infestation and this may include trips to equally unpleasant places including garbage disposal sites and sewage systems. Thus an exterminator must be comfortable working in these conditions and should have proper protection and safety equipment.

How much does an Exterminator earn?

According to data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), the average national median salary was $29,890 ($14.37 was the hourly median) while it ranged from below $19,650 to above $44,390. Salaries are varied in different states and provinces, and also depend on the amount of experience as well as the qualifications that have been obtained. The salaries for supervisors are more than those of workers or technicians.

Learn more about being an Exterminator