How to Start a Pest Control Business: Costs, Licenses, and Tools You Need

image of pest control expert starting a business with software

What’s the best reason to start a pest control business? Because at some point, everyone gets pests. And you can run a profitable, meaningful business by being the go-to exterminator in your community.

You’ll need a few things to get started: startup costs, chemical licenses, and the know-how to safely remove roaches, mice, ants, and other pests.

Follow our guide below to put together your pest control business plan. It will help you assess the opportunity, get funding, market your business, and launch with the right tools.

Costs to start a pest control business

The startup cost for a pest control business can range from $10,000 to $50,000.

If you’re operating from home and already have a vehicle, you’ll spend on the lower end.

But you’ll still need to invest in pesticide application training, equipment, uniforms and marketing. Equipment, including sprayers and chemicals, will be your biggest expense.

To fund your business, find small business grants, loans, or private investors in your community.

Another option is to buy into a pest control franchise. Franchises will still charge an upfront fee, but you’ll get more marketing support so you can get clients and earn revenue faster.

Is pest control a good business to start?

Yes. Employment of pest control workers is projected to grow 10% by 2030. As an essential service, you will always be in demand. And as a business owner, you can set profitable prices, build a team, and have a positive influence on your community.

Pest control service can be challenging yet rewarding, and is a great local business to start for ambitious entrepreneurs.

How much can I make as an owner of a pest control business?

The median pay for a pest control technician is between $37,820 and $50,000 per year.

But business owners can make $56,000-$75,000 per year with strong operational efficiency.

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What pest control licensing and certifications do you need?

The pest control industry is highly regulated. You will require state and federal licenses to use pesticides (known as restricted use pesticides or RUPS) and to operate your business.

Structural pest control operators are also required to renew their licenses every five years, and to take regular education courses to stay up to date on latest practices.

This is non-negotiable step, as pest control chemicals can be highly dangerous to you, your employees, and your clients. Misapplied chemicals could result in industry-wide chemical bans, so do your due diligence!

Visit the Environmental Protection Agency to learn the federal certification standards for commercial pesticide applicators, and the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials to see your state requirements and to contact your state official.

Define your services and price list

Choose the right pest control services and prices to make a profit.

To help you choose your services, research the common pest control problems in your service area. For example:

  • Occasional pests (year-round pests such as ants, wasps, beetles, sowbugs, centipedes, and silverfish)
  • Seasonal pests (e.g., ladybugs, boxelder beetles, and spiders)
  • Invasive pests (e.g., cockroaches, bedbugs, and carpenter/invasive ants that are not considered a nuisance)
  • Wildlife (e.g., pigeons, skunks, sparrows, and groundhogs)

You don’t need to offer all of these services. Focus down on the most in-demand niche in your area, or the one you are best equipped to serve.

How will you set your rates?

If you have experience working for another pest control company, you should have a basic understanding of going rates and how to price your services.

Use those rates as a guide, but don’t let them dictate your pricing. Your business is unique with its own costs. You may even offer superior service and products that allow you to charge a premium. Don’t sell yourself short!

Instead, use a smart pricing strategy like value-based or tiered pricing and consider what you need to charge to make a healthy profit.

Get your free Pest Control Estimate Template

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Choose a business name and logo

Picking a business name will make your pest control business ideas come to life.

Your business name is your first impression. Make sure that it represents your service offering and most importantly, helps you stand out from the competition.

If you don’t have any ideas yet, carefully research business names in your area. Then, think about what makes your business different:

  • What is your unique selling proposition?
  • What kinds of clients are you trying to attract?
  • How do you want them to feel when they hire you?

Write down all of the words and adjectives you can think of.

Next, make sure that name is not taken so that you can register it and claim your website domain name.

For your logo, unless you have the budget to hire a designer, keep it simple! Use a tool like Looka to help you design a unique logo that you can use on your website, social media, truck, and business cards.

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READ MORE: How to build a brand for your service business

Choose a business structure, register, and set up banking

Now that you’re a certified applicator with a business name, here’s how to make your pest control startup legal and operational:

  1. Choose your business structure: Options include an LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation. An LLC is often preferred because small business owners have limited liability if sued.
  2. Register your business as a legal entity. Business license and registration requirements will differ depending on where you live, so contact your local municipality for clarification. The entire registration process can take six weeks (or longer) to complete. 
  3. Get a business bank account and accountant: A business bank account helps keep your business’ finances separate from your personal finances and assets. It will also help you understand how much money to allocate to growing your business. Finally, having an accountant or using accounting software like Quickbooks will save you time and trouble, not to mention auditing and hair-pulling.

Pro tip: If you’re operating from home to save start up costs, purchase or rent a P.O. box to maintain some privacy and make you look like a larger, more professional business.

Get pest control business insurance

You must have business insurance to operate a pest control business.

You’ll be dealing with pesticide regulation, heavy-duty equipment, and working in other people’s homes and businesses.

It’s recommended you have general liability insurance, property damage, and personal injury insurance at minimum. You may also require commercial auto and workers’ compensation insurance.

There’s a lot of risk involved and liability on your hands, so shop around to get insurance quotes to protect you and your employees.

READ MORE: What business insurance do I need?

Pest control equipment list

Pest control technicians require special equipment and chemicals to do their jobs.

To start your business, here are the basic supplies you will need to invest in:

Personal protective equipment (PPE) like long pants, long shirts, chemical resistant gloves, chemical resistant footwear, a respirator or shield, and an apron.

Chemicals, pesticides, and ultrasonic pest repellants. The exact chemicals you need will depend on the pests you’re dealing with and your location. Some pesticides are prohibited in certain states. Research your local and state requirements before purchasing or using chemical pesticides.

Chemical sprayers, including backpack sprayers, green sprayers, pool sprayers. Again, the best sprayer for you will depend on the type of pest you’re dealing with.

Tools for removing pests like baits, repellants, rodent traps, and cages. You’ll also want sealers to seal up any holes left by pests

Ladders, preferably stabilized ladders

Endoscopes, to see into hard-to-reach nest areas

Miscellaneous tools, like headlamps, screwdrivers, drills, saws, and pliers.

A pest control truck
If you don’t already have a work vehicle, you’ll need one to get to and from jobs with all of your equipment. Make sure the vehicle can lock down, since the chemicals inside are highly dangerous and regulated.

In terms of financing, choose a vehicle that works best for you. Used or leased vehicles are the most affordable and easiest to declare.

Pest control software

Pest control software, such as Jobber, is used to manage the operations side of your business.

You’ll also be able to impress customers with a smoother workflow and professional-looking estimates, invoices, and communications.

Use your software to accept online bookings, quote for jobs, get paid online, schedule your team, and manage all your client’s history from a CRM.

Create quotes 70% faster when you offer online booking

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Promote your pest control business to get your first clients

Marketing will help you get your new business noticed, so you can build a healthy client list and start earning revenue.

You’ll be competing with a lot of other pest control companies, so take some time to put together a quick marketing plan to make sure your busienss stands out:

READ MORE: 7 proven ways to market your pest control business

  • Get on social media and find local community groups on Facebook or Nextdoor. Promoting your business to your neighbors is a great way to get your first customers
  • Create a Google My Business account for an easy, free online listing
  • Use Jobber’s free online tool to print some professional tear-away flyers, and place them on local bulletin boards, in community centers, and around your neighborhood.
  • Build a simple website that shows off your professionalism. Here are 10 pest control websites for inspiration.
  • Ask for referrals. A customer referral program is a great, low-cost way to encourage clients to recommend you to their friends and family.
  • Apply decals or a vehicle wrap to your company vehicle. Park it in public spaces so people passing by will learn about your business
  • If you’re feeling more advanced, set aside some budget for pest control ads

Learn how to run your pest control business

After getting your first few clients, you’ll need to think about how to manage them, schedule work, send quotes and invoices—and much more.

  • What is your process from when a client booked a new job?
  • Do you have an estimate template?
  • How do you keep track of a growing number of jobs?
  • How do you ensure you get paid?

Here’s how pest control software like Jobber can help you run a smooth operation and look more professional:

  • Manage clients: Store your clients’ details in Jobber’s CRM, including their name, address, pest history, chemical use and more, all in one place.
  • Track chemicals: Track how often you use specific products on any property or for any client with chemical tracking and reporting.
  • Send quotes: Send custom, professional-looking quotes and get notified when clients open or approve them.
  • Accept tips and get paid 4x faster: Jobber provides convenient, touchless payment options for your customers-with no hidden fees. Plus, customers tip an average of 15% on their invoice when paying online.

Try our free pest control invoice template for yourself.

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Originally published July 2019, last updated March 2022

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