Pest control advisers (PCAs)

California PCA Exam Helper

These pages will help you study for the pest control adviser licensing exam, administered by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).

What is a PCA?

Walt Bentley talks to grower while looking at almond leaf with hand lens.

In California, any person who offers a recommendation on any agricultural use of a pest control product or technique, presents himself/herself as an authority on any agricultural use, or solicits services or sales for any agricultural pest control tool is a pest control adviser (PCA).

Agricultural use includes use in parks, golf courses, waterways, forests, roadsides, cemeteries and many other situations as well as the traditional agricultural crops. According to California law, all PCAs must be licensed by the DPR.

Requirements for becoming a PCA

To become a PCA in California, you must meet specific educational requirements, pass the laws, regulations, and basic principles exam, and pass an exam in the pest control disciplines in which you wish to make recommendations.

Educational requirements

You must have a strong college education in the biological, agricultural, and pest management sciences. This includes 45 semester units or 67.5 quarter units of required courses in specified areas.

  • Required course list (see "Core Course Requirements for New License Applicants" on CA DPR Agricultural Pest Control Adviser License page)

Several universities and colleges offer some or all of these courses. Colleges offering courses are listed at the DPR web page above.

Licensing examinations

DPR's Licensing and Certification Program is responsible for testing and licensing agricultural PCAs.

All applicants must pass an exam on laws and regulations, general principles, and integrated pest management, and at least one pest control category exam. The seven PCA categories are

  • Insect, Mite and Other Invertebrates (Category A)
  • Plant Pathogens (Category B)
  • Nematodes (Category C)
  • Vertebrate Pests (Category D)
  • Weeds (Category E)
  • Defoliation (Category F)
  • Plant Growth Regulators (Category G)


Many resources are available to help you prepare for the exams, including:

Further information about testing and PCA licensing is available from the DPR Web site.

Useful articles and other resources

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