The Montana Private Applicator Training (PAT) Program is coordinated by MSU Extension through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) and MSU Extension. This agreement stipulates MSU Extension coordinates the certification and training of approximately 5,500 private applicators in Montana.

The PAT program is for individuals and their employees who wish to apply Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) to land they own, rent or lease for the purpose of growing an agricultural commodity. This includes privately owned farms, ranches, nurseries, and greenhouses. This does not include individuals who apply general use pesticides on land they own, rent or lease; however they may benefit from the training offered from this program. Other exceptions are noted below. For more information view the Montana Private Applicator Program Policies and Procedures.


  1. To Become Licensed as a Private Applicator
  2. To Recertify your Private Applicator License
  3. Expired Licenses
  4. Recertification Cycle
  5. License Fees
  6. Credit and License Information
  7. Submitting a Program for Credits
  8. Other License Types


To Become Licensed as a Private Applicator

Private applicators must be licensed prior to purchasing and using restricted use pesticides. To become certified an applicator has two options: (1) take an exam or (2) attend an Initial Private Applicator Training. 

Montana Private Applicator Certification Exam

The Montana Private Applicator Certification Exam can be taken at your local county or tribal MSU Extension office. The exam has 50-questions and must be passed with a 70% or better. The exam is open book and not timed. 

Initial Private Applicator Training

An Initial Private Applicator Training is a seven-hour program covering the basics of pesticide use. Upon completion of the program applicators must take an ungraded 50-question exam. Initial Private Applicator Trainings must adhere to criteria set forth for initial programs. Initial Private Applicator Trainings are offered annually throughout the state.

Training Material

If you attend an Initial Private Applicator Training you will be provided the following materials at the time of the event. If you decide to take the exam you are required to have the following manuals prior to applying for a Montana Private Applicator pesticide license. MSU PEP highly recommends purchasing and studying these materials in advance.

Core Topic Training Videos

The provided videos can be used to help study for the Montana Private Applicator Exam. These videos cover the seven core topics required in an Initial Private Applicator Training and will prepare applicators for questions found on the exam. Not all material may be covered in these videos so please review the manuals and publications listed above. 

  1. The Montana Private Applicator License (17:18 min)
  2. Reading the Pesticide Product Label (17:20 min)
  3. Pesticides in the Environment (28:02 min)
  4. Integrated Pest Management (32:06 min)
  5. Pesticide Safety (36:04 min)
  6. Calibration (46:14 min)

Several of the videos have story problems included as an additional training exercise. To utilize these please download the Core Topic Story Problem Packet. Answers to the story problems are presented in the videos.

To Recertify your Private Applicator License

Once you have obtained your private applicator pesticide license you will be considered a recertifying applicator. In order to renew your pesticide license for another five-year cycle, you have two options: take the Montana Private Applicator Exam or obtain six continuing education credits prior to the end of the recertification cycle.

Montana Private Applicator Certification Exam

The Montana Private Applicator Certification Exam can be taken at your local county or tribal MSU Extension office. The exam has 50-questions and must be passed with a 70% or better. The exam is closed book for recertifying applicators and is not timed. When recertifying the test can only be taken in the last year of the cycle.

Attend Pesticide Education Courses for Credits

Recertifying applicators must obtain six pesticide education credits by attending courses throughout the five-year recertification cycle. These courses may be in-person or online including webinars. Programs are offered throughout the state by MSU Extension, local governments and other sponsors. Programs must be approved by the MDA to be eligible for credits. To view courses available for pesticide education credits visit the resources listed here:

To Renew your License

In November of the expiration year the MDA mails renewal letters to all recertifying applicators. When you get this letter you need to follow the instructions on how to renew either by mailing in the application and $60 license fee or by renewing online. If you have not received a letter by mid-December please contact your local MSU Extension agent or the MDA at [email protected] or 406-444-4900.

Expired Licenses

If you allow your pesticide license to expire you must either take a closed book Montana Private Applicator Exam within 12 months after the license expiration or attend an Initial Private Applicator Training. After 12 months you are considered a new applicator and will follow the licensing guidelines of the initial applicator above.

Recertification Cycle

Montana PAT Districts

PAT Recertification Cycle Dates by District

District Cycle Start Cycle End
1 January 1, 2024 December 31, 2028
2 January 1, 2020 December 31, 2024
3 January 1, 2021 December 31, 2025
4 January 1, 2022 December 31, 2026
5 January 1, 2023 December 31, 2027

License Fees

Private applicators must pay $12 for each year of the cycle for a total of $60 per each five-year recertification cycle to the MDA. This fee is to be paid at the time of licensing and when the license is renewed. The $60.00 is distributed in the following manner: 

  • $15.00 (25%) to MDA for administration.
  • $15.00 (25%) to fund the waste pesticides and pesticide container disposal programs.
  • $30.00 (50%) to MSU Extension broken down as follows:
    • $5.00 (8%) to the MSU Extension Pesticide Education Program, and
    • $25.00 (42%) to the MSU Extension office in which the private applicator resides. This money is used to support pesticide certification and training programs conducted in those counties.

Credit and License Information

It is an applicator's responsibility to keep track of their credits and the expiration date of their license. You can look up license and credit information online using the MDA Pesticide License Search Tool. Remember, you can always contact your local Extension office or the Pesticide Education Program to help you with your license and credit information. 

Submitting a Program for Credits

Courses must be approved by the MDA for pesticide education credits. Submit your program through the Request for Pesticide Course Recertification Credit Assignment form at least 30 days in advance of the program. Once approved, you will receive a sign in sheet to be used at the event. The sign in sheet must be returned to the MDA within 14 days of the conclusion of the event. If you are submitting a webinar for credits, be aware of specific attendance requirements.

Other License Types

The Montana Private Applicator license is specifically for applicators who want to apply RUPs on land they own, rent or lease. If this does not apply to you,  you may need a different type of pesticide license. Other license types offered include:

  • Commercial Applicators - Individuals who by contract or for hire, apply pesticides by aerial, ground, or hand equipment to land, plants, seed, animals, water, structures, or vehicles.
  • Public Utility Applicators - Individuals who apply pesticides to land owned or leased by a public utility.
  • Government Applicators - Individuals who apply pesticides for a city, county or state or other government agency to public land or right-of-way, or as a public service.  
  • Non-Commercial Applicators - Individuals who cannot be classified as a commercial, public utility, governmental or private pesticide applicators, but desire to apply restricted-use pesticides. 

Certification and training for commercial, public utility, government and non-commercial applicators is coordinated by the MDA. More information on these licensing types can be found at the MDA Pesticide Licensing Program. Contact the MDA at (406) 444-4900 to learn more about obtaining a commercial pesticide license.


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