Coming Soon: Updated National Pesticide Applicator Certification Core Manual -- Available to States and Tribes

Training Materials

Once complete, the 3rd Edition of the National Pesticide Applicator Certification Core Manual will be available to states, tribes, and territories with certifying authority from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The manual and exam could be adopted “as is,” or states/tribes could customize the manual and exam to meet local needs. Whether or not it is customized, states/tribes will be encouraged to offer the manual(s) for sale to support their local pesticide safety education programs.

Project Goal

The primary goal of this project is to create a manual and exam item bank of questions/answers for the certification of commercial and private pesticide applicators in the core competencies related to laws and safety. The revision will include the newly required competencies under the 2017 revised Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule (40 CFR Part 171). The process involves collaborative development of learning objectives, manual development, making recommendations for needed visuals, exam development, and evaluation/testing. The team will foster stakeholder engagement and seek consensus. The manual and exam item bank will be developed in English (2024), then in Spanish (2025).

In keeping with PERC’s policy about the sharing of manuals associated with exams, no copies of the manual’s 3rd edition will be made freely available digitally by PERC or adopters. However, adopters are welcome to distribute printed manuals, e-books, and/or modules in a learning management system (LMS) at a reasonable cost. If anyone gives it away at no cost, everyone stands to lose a source of funding for pesticide safety education programs.

Team Leaders

Sandra McDonald is the National Core Manual Project Lead. Sandra founded Mountain West Pesticide Education & Safety Training in 2009, and previously served as the Environmental and Pesticide Education Specialist at Colorado State University for 13 years, training pesticide applicators, and developing training materials. Sandra has coordinated the development/revision of multiple pesticide study manuals and exam item databases. Most recently, she was the National Project Lead on the National Non-Soil Fumigation Project, which developed the manual and exam database.

Steve Tomasko is a Senior Outreach Specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has years of experience as a technical writer of safety manuals. He was the Lead Technical Writer on the National Non-Soil Fumigation Project, working alongside Sandra.

Table of Contents (Draft)

Chapter 1: Federal Pesticide Laws 
Chapter 2: The Pesticide Label
Chapter 3: Pesticide Basics
Chapter 4: Pesticide Formulations
Chapter 5: Pesticide Risks to People
Chapter 6: Personal Protective Equipment
Chapter 7: Pesticide Exposure and Heat Stress
Chapter 8: Pesticides in the Environment
Chapter 9: Non-Target Environmental Impacts of Pesticides
Chapter 10: Pest Management
Chapter 11: Pesticide Resistance
Chapter 12: Pesticide Transport, Storage and Security
Chapter 13: Mixing and Loading Pesticides
Chapter 14: Pesticide Application
Chapter 15: Equipment Calibration
Chapter 16: Managing Pesticide Wastes
Chapter 17: Emergency Response
Chapter 18: Professional Conduct
Mock Labels
Note: this is subject to change as the writing, reviewing, and editing process continues.


The Core Manual and Exam Bank will be released in 2024-2025.

For More Information

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Regulatory Guidance

Browse brief guides about protections for workers and handlers, the AEZ, posting, PPE, exemptions, training, respirators, and more, in English and Spanish.

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