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Applicators and users of pesticides are required to meet certain certification and licensing standards in order to legally handle and supervise the use of pesticides. The initial process is to pass the certification and/or core license exam. To keep the pesticide certification and licensing valid, applicators are required to retake exams or accumulate continuing educational credits or contact hours within a 3-year period.

Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education (PACE) is the process by which holders of a current and valid pesticide credential can their professional knowledge, making for a more skilled and safer user of pesticides. Invariably, this serves to make the pesticide user more valuable to their employer, the public, and mean less risk to the environment. The Division of Crop and Pest Services in the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) require that the credential individual complete a minimum number of continuing education contact hours or credits within the 3-year re-certification/license period.

MDAR works with a number of continuing education providers reviewing and approving continuing education programs offering pesticide certification and license holders an adequate and varied number of training opportunities each year. Massachusetts is flexible in the types of programs that are approved to meet recertification/relicensure standards for applicators of pesticides to revalidate and renew their pesticide credentials.

The Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education (PACE) educational program opportunities are offered in varying venues for earning pesticide credits and contact hours. Private industry, trade/commodity/professional associations, governmental agencies, University sponsored correspondence courses, on-line/web based/CD programs, and the Cooperative Extension of the University of Massachusetts are the major venues and providers of these programs. The number of approved PACE programs and the variety permit the Massachusetts applicator/pesticide user to achieve recertification/revalidation with minimal amount of effort.

Ultimately, the training you receive and/or are provided must contribute directly to your professional competence (growth and skills) as a pesticide user.

The Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education (PACE) program must first be approved for credit or contact hours by the Division of Crop and Pest Services in MDAR before the actual training program takes place. The approval granted is based upon the program sponsor/provider submitting an agenda, completed PACE application, agenda, speaker information, and other information. The Division of Crop and Pest Services then provides the program sponsor with a signed original attendance verification or approval form.

Upon completion of a PACE approved program, the sponsor must provide each attendee the attendance/approval form. Thereafter, the person attending submits the original attendance/approval forms to Division of Crop and Pest Services when they are officially notified via an audit when their 3 year cycle is completed. It is important that each pesticide license or certification holder attend training each year to avoid falling short of maintaining their credential. Otherwise, MDAR can require these individuals to re-take and pass the state pesticide examination as the only avenue to be reinstated as individuals who can use pesticides in a professional and safer manner.