What does an Exterminator do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2019
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An exterminator is someone who determines the extent of a pest problem, develops a plan of action, and eliminates the pests. Exterminators can work on their own, or with pest control companies which offer a range of inspection and extermination services to their clients. Salaries for exterminators vary, depending on where they work, and the job can be hazardous and physically demanding, as terminators work with harsh chemicals and they need to be able to enter crawl spaces and confined areas to do their work.

Exterminators are usually high school graduates. They may learn their skills on the job, or they might take pest control training programs which conclude with a certification examination. In some nations, strict laws about the application of pesticides include mandates that exterminators complete government training programs and demonstrate proficiency with handling pesticides on an examination, to ensure that they know how to apply chemicals safely.


When an exterminator arrives on a site in response to a complaint about pests, he or she talks to the customers about the issue, and conducts a thorough examination. The examination includes inspections of areas where pests have been seen, along with probing crawl spaces, walls, and other areas where pests are commonly found. The exterminator may also walk around to look for external sources of pests, such as a rotting tree stump which harbors termites, or uncontrolled garbage which may be attracting rats. Many exterminators carry a checklist of things to look for so that they can conduct a thorough examination of any structure, from a home to a multistory office building.

After determining which pests are on site, the exterminator can talk with the property owner about elimination options. These may include topical applications of pest control agents, trapping, or tenting an entire structure for a thorough gassing to remove pests. The extent of the extermination campaign depends on which pests are present, how much damage they have done, and how thoroughly they have spread through the structure and the area. Once the plan is approved, the exterminator can set up an appointment to eliminate the unwanted pests.

Many exterminators offer advice for managing and preventing pests to their clients. Especially in the wake of an extermination, the exterminator will make recommendations to prevent recurrence, such as clearing out brush and shrubs around a home, recaulking seams of a home, and replacing pest-damaged timbers.

In addition to conducting exterminations, exterminators may also perform property inspections. Many people looking at real estate request a pest inspection to confirm the condition of the property, in which case the terminator will look for signs of pests, and he or she may recommend various measures to deal with existing pests or to prevent future infestations.


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