Steps to Successfully Completing a Pesticide Certification Exam

The MDA is the authority regulating pesticide use in Minnesota. Persons applying pesticides in Minnesota may need to obtain a license from MDA to do so. By taking and passing a certification exam a person demonstrates they are qualified to hold a license.

The MDA issues different license types with specific categories depending on the intended application site. Persons must determine what type of license they need (Structural, Commercial, Noncommercial) and the categories in which they need to certify.

Private Applicators (typically farmers) apply and test through the University of Minnesota.

Preparing for the Exam

  1. Every person must pass the Core Exam (Category A) and at least one additional category exam. Study Materials for the exams may be ordered from University of Minnesota Bookstores Extension Publications online or call 612-301-3989. 
  2. Complete the application form including the name, address (physical and mailing address, if different) and phone number of your employer. Provide your social security number. Certify that the financial requirements are met. Apply and pay online or print and bring the completed application and payment to the testing location.
    • MDA St. Paul Office (Orville Freeman Building 615 Robert Street North): Testing appointments are available Monday and Wednesday at 8:30 am or 1:30 pm, excluding holidays. To schedule an appointment email, or call 651-201-6633. All testers must have a scheduled appointment.
    • Greater Minnesota: Schedule an appointment at a greater Minnesota testing location.  Please note many Counties are not currently offering pesticide testing due to the COVID -19 pandemic.
  4. Pay application fees in advance (online) and bring proof of payment, or bring the completed application form with payment at the time of exam.
  5. If you require accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you must document your request in writing and submit it to no later than seven days before the exam. The MDA will notify you whether the request for accommodation has been approved before the exam date. If you are unable to wear a mask for medical reasons, you must inform us of this when you schedule your test or submit your request in writing and submit it to so that special accommodations can be made. Failure to do so will result in you not being able to test. The MDA will notify you prior to the exam date whether the request for accommodation has been approved.
  6. All exam materials are written in English. Independently reading and understanding printed English is an essential eligibility requirement of being a certified pesticide applicator. Therefore, no accommodation will be made that allows for another person to read exam materials to a tester. 

At the Testing Location

  1. Present your completed license application or provide confirmation of your online application and present payment to the test administrator.
    • Some county offices charge an administrative fee for use of the facility
  2. Provide your driver’s license or valid government photo identification.
  3. Exams are given during normal business hours, but are not otherwise timed.

Taking the Exam

  1. Exams are closed book and require 70 percent correct answers or better to pass.
  2. Exam questions are primarily multiple choice.
  3. Questions and answers will not be explained.
  4. A calculator is provided for use during the exam.
  5. No talking is allowed during the exam.
  6. A person may not use reference materials during examination.
  7. Cell phones and other electronic devices are prohibited during the exam; these items must be surrendered to the test proctor during check-in. 
  8. Testers are monitored and the testing session will be ended if tester fails to follow directions.

After the Test

  1. Test is scored:
    • If you test electronically: Test is scored immediately and the results provided.
    • If you test on paper: Answer sheet is mailed to St. Paul office to be scored. Testers will be notified of results by mail.
  2. The MDA mails a license ID card to successful applicants. Successful applicants will see their valid license online as soon as it is approved.
  3. A Fail Letter with test scores will be sent to unsuccessful applicants.

After a Failed Exam

A person may take the exam three (3) times per calendar year.