Similar Titles

Agricultural Consultant, Crop Consultant, Pest Management Consultant, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Specialist, Agricultural Extension Agent, Field Crop Advisor, Crop Protection Specialist, Plant Health Advisor, Pest Control Specialist, Pest Management Technician

Job Description

Roughly 40% of the world’s crop production is lost every year—because of pests! 

With billions of pests ranging from insects to rodents threatening delicate crops and fragile ecosystems, farmers rely heavily on the services of Pest Control Advisors (or PCAs). PCAs are crucial guardians of our agriculture, helping to protect crops, plants, and trees from being eaten or destroyed by invasive creatures. 

PCAs advise farmers on the selection and use of chemicals as well as organic and natural methods of effectively controlling these bothersome pests. Their valuable work directly impacts environmental conservation efforts, public health and food security, and our national economy.

Note, a PCA is not necessarily a pesticide applicator. Someone can be both a licensed PCA and a licensed pesticide applicator, but the two roles have distinct responsibilities and requirements. 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Safeguarding the nation’s food supply from damaging pests
  • Implementing environmentally friendly pest management strategies
  • Helping to prevent pests from spreading disease to humans, animals, and plants
2022 Employment
2032 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

  • Pest Control Advisors work full-time, sometimes in offices, other times outdoors doing fieldwork. Frequent travel may be needed, causing them to be away from home some nights, weekends, or holidays. During fieldwork, they can be exposed to inclement weather, as well as chemical and pest hazards. 

Typical Duties

  • Conduct site visits to farms; scout (i.e., assess) fields for pest infestations
  • Identify pests and inform farm owners or other clients of findings
  • Look for conditions that could attract pests (such as leaf clutter, garbage, lighting, overgrown shrubs, dense vegetation, or moisture issues); suggest ways to eliminate or reduce these conditions 
  • Offer ideas for preventing pest access to certain areas via fencing, nets, row covers, etc.
  • Collaborate with agronomists and farmers to strategize pest control measures
  • Design integrated pest management plans that combine cultural, biological, mechanical, and chemical strategies 
  • Recommend appropriate chemical treatments or alternatives such as organic and sustainable pest control methods (including the introduction of natural predators such as ladybugs or spiders)
  • Monitor the efficacy and environmental impact of treatments
  • Work with pesticide manufacturers or suppliers to understand the properties and applications of products

Additional Responsibilities

  • Prepare budgets for pest control measures
  • Conduct training seminars for farmers about emerging threats and prevention
  • Stay up-to-date on regulatory guidelines and ensure compliance
  • Participate in professional organization activities and contribute to the advancement of the field
  • Supervise or mentor assistants and scouts
  • Assist with ordering inventory
  • May help with chemical and nutrient application
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Analytical 
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills
  • Curiosity
  • Environmental consciousness
  • Independent 
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Investigative
  • Objectivity 
  • Organizational skills
  • Patience
  • Physical fitness
  • Resourcefulness
  • Safety oriented
  • Sound judgment and decision-making

Technical Skills

  • Ability to recognize poisonous plants 
  • Experience using Agvance Agrian or related recommendation software
  • Familiarity with pesticide application techniques
  • Geographic Information Systems for tracking pest outbreaks
  • Integrated pest management principles 
  • Knowledge of numerous pest types, their biologies, and behaviors 
  • Knowledge of safety regulations and guidelines
  • Organic and sustainable pest control methods
  • PCA (Pest Control Advisor) license (in some states)
  • QAL (Qualified Applicator) license (in some states)
  • Understanding of crop cycles and farming practices
Different Types of Organizations
  • Agricultural companies
  • Agricultural consultancy firms
  • Crop protection companies
  • Farms and ranches
  • Government agricultural departments
  • Museums and zoos
  • Research facilities
  • Vineyards
Expectations and Sacrifices

Pests pose a hazard to the crops and botanical plants we rely on for food and medicines. Thus our lives and health are linked to the actions of certain insects, mites, nematodes, mollusks, birds, and rodents. Indeed, pests pose a danger to ecosystems in general, as well as lawns, physical structures, and stored foods. They’re also prone to spreading diseases or even causing allergic reactions or venomous bites. 

That’s why we rely so heavily on the diligence of Pest Control Advisors to mitigate the harmful effects of pest populations! PCAs play a pivotal role in ensuring our food sources are secure from the ravages of pests, but they also realize that many organisms are beneficial in some settings. For instance, caterpillars might be pests in a garden but they’re an essential food source for many birds.  

Current Trends

Emerging technologies like drones and GIS software aid PCAs in monitoring larger areas more efficiently. Additionally, there's a growing emphasis on organic and sustainable pest control methods, aligning with the broader trend of eco-conscious farming. 

Another trend is the ongoing development of more sustainable pest management strategies, such as using pheromones or living biological control agents (without those creatures turning into pests themselves). In some cases, genetically modified insects are introduced into an area to mate with wild insects and spread mutated genes, with the goal of reducing pest population sizes. 

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

Pest Control Advisors most likely enjoyed being outside when they were younger, perhaps gardening or simply observing nature. They are curious-minded but equally analytical persons who may have liked reading or watching informative videos about earth sciences, wildlife, and insects. 

Education and Training Needed
  • Pest Control Advisors usually need a bachelor’s degree in agronomy, entomology, pest management, forestry, natural resources management, environmental studies, environmental science, biology, or a related field 
  1. Some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree, depending on the level of responsibilities involved
  • Common undergraduate courses include:
  1. Aquatic habitats    
  2. Biological control of insects and weeds 
  3. Chemistry
  4. Genetically modified insects
  5. Ecology of pest management
  6. Forest entomology    
  7. Insect biodiversity and biology 
  8. Insect societies    
  9. Insect-transmitted diseases
  10. Invertebrate neurobiology
  11. Parasites and pestilence
  12. Pollinators
  13. Statistics
  • Some states require pesticide applicators to get licensed and to complete continuing education courses to stay up-to-date on emerging pests and treatment methods
  • Pest Control Advisor license (in some states)
  • Some roles may require an International Society of Arboriculture credential
  • A valid driver's license is also often required since the job entails traveling to various sites
  • Some positions may require a pre-employment substance screening exam
Things to look for in an University
  • Look for accredited colleges offering majors in agronomy, entomology, pest management, forestry, natural resources management, environmental studies, environmental science, biology, or a related field
  • Seek programs with internships or opportunities to get practical experience 
  • Check out their current research and research facilities
  • Compare tuition and fees costs, noting in-state vs. out-of-state costs
  • Review scholarship and financial aid options
  • Check out graduation and job placement statistics for alumni 
Things to do in High School and College
  • In high school, study agriculture-related topics, as well as English, math, earth sciences, chemistry, biology, and botany. Take lab classes and participate in science fairs or research projects
  • Participate in nature and agriculture-related clubs and activities like the Supervised Agriculture Experience and Future Farmer of America
  • Get outdoors! Try hiking, gardening, or camping to gain exposure to nature. Start a journal or video blog of your insect observations 
  • Volunteer or get a part-time job at a local farm, nature reserve, zoo, insectarium, botanical garden, or research facility
  • Read academic articles and watch documentary videos related to entomology
  • Popular YouTube channels with pest control videos include:
  1. DoMyOwnPestControl 
  2. NaturePest Natural Pest Control
  3. Orkin Pest Control
  4. Pestworld
  5. Town and Country Pest Solutions
  • Speak with a working Pest Control Advisor about how they got started. Check out online discussion forums
  • Sign up for ad hoc online courses like the ones offered by edX or Udemy, to learn about insects, lab techniques, data analysis, and scientific methodologies
  • Keep track of your accomplishments for your resume and/or college applications
  • Decide if you want to specialize in a particular species or behavior 
Typical Roadmap
Pest Control Advisor
How to Land your 1st job
  • Scan job portals like, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, USAJOBS, and other sites
  • Some positions require years of prior related work experience, so consider starting as a pesticide applicator or technician, an agricultural field tech, an entomology research assistant, a wildlife control operator, or even a farm, greenhouse, or nursery worker! 
  • Ask your network for leads on upcoming job openings. Most jobs are found through connections!
  • Ask former professors and supervisors if you can list them as references
  • Review sample Pest Control Advisor resumes and interview questions
  • Conduct mock interviews with friends or your school’s career center 
  • Keep up-to-date on pest control-related technological developments. Demonstrate awareness of trends and terminology during interviews
  • Dress appropriately for job interviews
How to Climb the Ladder
  • Let your supervisor know you are interested in advancement. Offer to take the lead on tough projects! 
  • Knock out extra education and training, such as a higher-level degree or a new certification 
  • Focus on a specific type of pest or method that’s in demand 
  • Become an expert in areas like organic pest control. Embrace new pest control technologies and methods
  • Attend events where you can learn about the latest tools, chemicals, or biological methods
  • Create training materials for new hires and to keep staff updated on best practices and emerging trends
  • Analyze the current methods and practices of your organization. Propose more efficient or cost-effective alternatives
  • Stay current on regulatory changes. Engage with local, state, or federal bodies to ensure your organization is always compliant
  • Document pest control interventions and get published in industry magazines
  • Partner with universities or research institutions for studies or projects
  • Grow your reputation as a subject matter expert. Start a website, write online articles, make educational videos, mentor peers, and participate in professional organization events
  • Strengthen relationships with customers, clients, coworkers, and managers
  • Consider applying to a larger employer or relocating to where there are more (or higher-paying) job opportunities!
Recommended Tools/Resources



  • Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control, by Jessica Walliser 
  • Grow Your Pest Control Business: How to Gain an Unfair Advantage in Your Market and Stand Out From Your Competition, by Eric Bussey
  • The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control: A Complete Guide to Maintaining a Healthy Garden and Yard the Earth-Friendly Way, by Fern Marshall Bradley, Barbara W. Ellis, et al.
Plan B

Pest Control Advising is a crucial but relatively small career field. As a result, there may not be an abundance of jobs where you want to live and work. If you’re interested in related occupations, check out the suggestions below! 

  • Agricultural and Food Scientist    
  • Agricultural Engineer
  • Agronomist
  • Botanist
  • Chemical Technician    
  • Conservation Scientist and Forester    
  • Ecologist
  • Entomologist
  • Environmental Scientist and Specialist    
  • Farmer, Rancher, and Agricultural Manager    
  • Horticulturist
  • Industrial Ecologist
  • Microbiologist    
  • Naturalist
  • Nursery Technician
  • Pesticide Handler
  • Plant Biologist
  • Precision Agriculture Technician
  • Soil Scientist
  • Vineyard Manager
  • Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist


Online Courses and Tools