In Florida, pesticide licensing exams help ensure the state’s approximately 70,000 pesticide applicators follow state regulations and best practices for mitigating the impact of chemicals on the environment.
Historically, the exam has only been offered in person at pre-scheduled times. The UF/IFAS Pesticide Information Office has announced that applicators will now have the option of taking the exam online at any time from just about any location with an internet connection.
Florida is one of only a few states that offers an online pesticide exam option, said Brett Bultemeier, an Extension assistant professor of agronomy with the UF/IFAS Pesticide Information Office, which partners with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to offer the exam.
“We hope this online option will save applicators both time and money. When you factor in travel time and testing time, a pesticide applicator may spend half a day or more to sit for an in-person exam. That’s time they could be spending working or growing their business. The online option will allow them to take the test on a rainy day or outside working hours,” Bultemeier said.
“Taking the test online can also cut down on testing anxiety, as applicators can take the test from a quiet office or area in their home, rather than among 15 other people,” he added
Bultemeier emphasized that the online exam does not replace in-person exams. Both will be offered. New applicators must pass the exam, while current licensed applicators must retake the exam every four years or accrue enough continuing education units during that four-year window for renewal.
For now there are only five exams available via remote online access: Core, Private Applicator, Aquatics, Right-of-Way, Ornamental and Turf. The plan is to quickly load the remaining pesticide exams to this format in 2022.
To maintain the integrity of the test results, the online exam uses software developed by the company Everblue to ensure test takers are not consulting the internet, books or study guides while taking the exam.
The UF/IFAS Pesticide Information Office also offers online courses that give applicators continuing education units (CEUs). Pesticide applicators who have already passed the exam once can either retake the test or accrue CEUs to maintain their license. For additional updates check out the PIO blog.