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Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education (PACE) FAQ

Common questions about PACE

What is Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education or PACE?
Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education (PACE) is the process by which you expand your professional knowledge, making you a better applicator that is more valuable to your employer, the public, and the environment. The Division of Crop and Pest Management in the Department of Agricultural Resources require that you complete a minimum number of continuing education contact hours or credits within a three-year certification period.

Why do you need continuing education?
There are several reasons that the Division of Crop and Pest Management considers so important that it requires continuing education in order for you to maintain and retain your pesticide certification and/or license:

  • Most professions/occupations have continuing education requirements, and in this, the pest management.
  • Periodic training keeps you current with developments in your particular industry, from new pests to different pesticides.
  • More training makes you a more knowledgeable, efficient and safer users of pesticides.

The public has confidence in pest management applicators as professionals, because they know that besides being tested and certified by the state, you are also required to obtain continuing education credits/contact hours. Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education (PACE) is based upon fundamental principles such as review of current knowledge and learning new technology. The justification for Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education (PACE) is that applicators of pesticides must continuously demonstrate a competency for handling potentially hazardous materials. Because of emerging pest development, emerging application technologies, and new pesticide products, such a Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education (PACE) allows for the applicator to be take advantage of educational opportunities approved by the Division of Crop and Pest Management in the Department of Agricultural Resources.

Do Pesticide Inspectors audit approved programs?
Yes, Division of Crop and Pest Management staff especially enforcement staff do monitor a number of programs and reserves the right to attend any approved training free of charge.

How many credits or contact hours do I need to maintain a pesticide certification or license?
As a user of pesticides, you can never get too much continuing education. The more sessions you attend, the more professional knowledge of the subject matter you gain, helping you do your job better, safer, and more efficiently. There are, however, minimum numbers of contact hours each type of applicator needs to accumulate within a three-year recertification period.

License / Certification Type Minimum Contact Hours
Applicator (Core) License 6
Commercial Certification 12
Private Certification 12
Dealer License 3

What is a contact hour?
One Contact Hour is equal to 50 consecutive minutes of training.

What qualifies as “acceptable continuing education?
The purpose of continuing education is to insure that PACE builds upon the existing base of knowledge that each pesticide applicator gains through the current licensure process.  Ultimately, continuing education must ensure the responsible and informed practice of pesticide use in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts .  To this end, certain components [333 CMR 10.08(3) (f)] must be met by all continuing education providers as follows:

Training should have the following core elements:

  • Objectives
    • It should be a planned educational activity.
    • It should contribute directly to the professional competence (growth and skills) of the applicator or dealer as a pesticide user.
    • It should be pertinent to the use of pesticides.
    • It should be open to anyone.
  • Content
    • It should be planned programs/topics that "build upon the professional applicator's educational and practical know-how".
    • It should enhance and further address specific pesticide applicator's training needs.
    • It should focus on appropriate subject matter as outlined in the regulations such as new state and federal pesticide regulations, IPM, Label comprehension etc.
    • It should be "real world" in content and should focus on pesticide use and handling.
    • It should disseminate and review new research that leads to both immediate and future pesticide use application.
  • Training Methods
    • It should incorporate principles of adult education in the design of program.
  • Evaluation
    • It should include applicator participation (feedback).
    • It should be open to all.
    • It should take place in an appropriate physical facility conducive to learning.
  • Verification
    • It should provide standard attendance "form" for purpose of verification.

What is not “acceptable continuing education?
Training should not be the following:

  • Should not be Promotional
    • Training should not be focused on or reflect an employer's goals or service commitments, goals or operating procedures.
    • Training should not promote a manufacturer's product line.
  • Should not be a Review
    • Training should not be a "review" of previously learned materials or skills. Remember, it is supposed to be enhanced professional education.  
  • Should not be a Social Event
    • Training should not take place at, or in combination with, social events.

What do the pesticide regulations require for continuing education?

Recertification Period The time period that credentialed applicators are given to obtain a specified amount of training is three (3) years.
Contact Hours The term "Credits" has been changed to "contact hours".  The training time necessary to earn contact hours has been standardized. Fifty consecutive minutes (50) of training equals "one contact hour".  One (1) continuing education credit unit (CEU) equals ten (10) contact hours and one (1) semester hour equals fifteen (15) contact hours.
Recertification for Everyone

All licensed and certified individuals, including applicators and dealers must accumulate contact hours.  The number of contact hours required for each license or certification in each 3-year cycle is as follows:

  • Commercial Certification - 12 Contact Hours (per category)
  • Commercial Applicator License(Core) - 6 Contact Hours
  • Private Certification - 12 Contact Hours (per category)
  • Dealer License - 3 Contact Hours
Assigning Contact Hours The provider of training, assign "contact hours" and designate the applicable licensure type/category.
No Retraining Application Continuing Education training programs may be presented an unlimited number of times without re-submission of a Retraining Application provided there are no major changes in content, outline, contact hours, or trainers.
Advance Notice The Department must receive a Retraining Application at a minimum seven (7) days before a training program. However, it is requested that the application be submitted earlier in order to permit proper review and response.
Subject Matter Training subject matter must include a comprehensive description including but not limited to, "learner objectives".
Evaluation Training content and presentations will be evaluated by participants. These evaluations provide feedback to you and need not be return to the Department.

How Do I Obtain Contact Hours?
Contact hours or pesticide credits can be obtained by attending approved training programs. A list of approve training programs is listed on this webpage.

What about web based or on-line training?  What is the policy?
As outlined in the MDAR Policy Document, individuals who hold a Massachusetts pesticide credential either core licensed (L) or a private or commercial certified are eligible to obtain contact hour/credits as a result of taking pre-approved online or distance learning CD training.  However, the total number of contact hours/credit hours obtained for any "On Demand" courses or modules is not to exceed 1/2 of the total Massachusetts continuing education contact hour requirement to maintain or revalidate a pesticide certification and/or license NOTE: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires you to spend a minimum of 50 minutes on each course or module in order to receive one (1) contact hour or (1) credit. You must pass a post-test or exam with at least 80 % correct.

How far in advance do I need to send the PACE application for review and approval?
Current regulations require that training programs be receive no later than seven (7) days prior to any training, however, it behooves those who request approval of training to send us the completed application with as much lead time as practical such as 14-21 days in advance.  Many sponsors have been accommodated on more than one occasion over the years.  This will not continue as it creates conflicts to the entire process.  Programs received less than 7 days will automatically be denied and credit cannot be approved after the fact.

What should I do with the approval certificate or form I receive at the approved PACE program?

Retain your certificates in a file that you’ve compile with the documents pertaining to your pesticide certification and license. Keep this file in a safe place, but one that is easily accessible by you. You might even consider keeping extra copies in another location too. It is very important to save the certificate you receive since this is your proof that you attended an approved PACE program. 
Do not send this form to MDAR, only when you receive a formal audit notice

Do I need to fill out the approval certificate or form I receive at the approved PACE program?
Yes, the certificate of attendance will be having an authorized individual printed and signed name. Also, you who attended the approved program must print their name and sign the Certificate of attendance to be valid and satisfy pesticide credit audit. Finally, you need to be sure you obtain the certificate of attendance no matter what type of attendance system is being used by the provider or sponsor of the approved PACE program.

I saw a course offered in another state that looked interesting. Can this course be credited toward the contact hours I need?
Yes, but only if the program has been pre-approved by the Division of Crop and Pest Management in the Department of Agricultural Resources AND/OR the program is an approved program of the pesticide regulatory authority in the states of CT, ME, NH, RI, and VT.
Your approval certificate verifying your attendance must be on the official letterhead of the states listed above to be valid.

If I’m audited, is there an expiration date on the validity of the contact hours I’ve earned?
Yes. The contact hours you submit as part of the audit process must have been earned during the current certification or license period, i.e., within the last three years of the anniversary of the issue of your original pesticide license

I’m unable to locate any training opportunities and I’ve been recently audited. I don’t want to lose my pesticide certification or license? I don’t want to retake the state examination. What can I do?
First of all, don’t panic. You have a couple of options:

  • Check the approved list available on this webpage
  • Contact the person who sells you pesticides or the Secretary of an association you are a member and see if they have planned any training programs coming up for you to participate.
  • Check on-line or web-based approved programs in the listing available on this webpage

Is their a list of the certification categories or code designation in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts PACE Codes Key
Code License Type Description of Code
24 Private Dairy/Livestock
25 Private Tree Fruit
26 Private Greenhouse
27 Private Small Fruit
28 Private Poultry
29 Private Nursery
30 Private Cranberry
31 Private Vegetables
32 Private Sod
33 Commercial Custom Ag Plants & Animals
34 Commercial Aerial
35 Commercial Forest
36 Commercial Shade Trees & Ornamentals
37 Commercial Turf
38 Commercial Seed Treatment
39 Commercial Aquatic
40 Commercial Right of Way
41 Commercial General Pest Control (PCOs) +
42 Commercial Fumigation
43 Commercial Termite
44 Commercial Vertebrate *
45 Commercial Site Sanitation
46 Commercial General Public Health
47 Commercial Mosquito & Biting Fly
48 Commercial Regulatory
49 Commercial Demonstration & Research
50 Commercial Food Processing
52 Commercial Wood Preservative
54 Commercial TBT
55 Commercial Meta-Sodium (Sewer Line Root Control)

+Note: Category 41 includes rats and mice

*Note: Category 44 excludes rats and mice. This category is primarily    for bird control.

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