The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) has had to adjust their pesticide applicator and operator training and exam process this year due to the pandemic, which means anyone who needs to do so for recertification must adjust as well.

IDOA has limited in-person classes but is also offering an online option for the training and exam.

My three-year certification was up for renewal on December 31, 2020 and I decided to do the training online instead of in-person. I received a letter from IDOA that had information about the University of Illinois Pesticide Safety Education Program training course and purchased that for $45. For the testing process, I had to use ProctorU, a California-based online exam proctoring service. Testing through ProctorU cost $12 and all I had to do was schedule a time to take my exam through the service.

How to register?

I registered for everything online and it was all pretty easy to do and with no hiccups. The training course is set up like a tutorial where the material is read to you and then at the end of every section there were practice questions. I found those practice questions to be really helpful when actually taking my exam.

Training Preparation

University of Illinois Extension’s Pesticide Safety Education Program offers study materials to help prepare for the exam. I went through the training tutorial twice and even went through a couple sections more than once. The training went over pesticide laws and regulations, insects and weeds, labels and labeling, pesticide safety precautions, pesticides in the environment, and application equipment and calibration.

The training experience was easy to use. The whole process was probably faster online than in person because of the time you spend driving to a training/testing location and factor in breaks.

The online training course is constructed to mirror the format of the traditional in-person training clinics and can be found here:

Certification Exam

I was surprised that the exam didn’t get into any mathematical questions or questions that required major calculations like gallons per acre and nozzle pressure. In fact, I think there were only one or two questions like that.

The exam was timed but I never had an issue with having too little time to complete the exam. had to reschedule once with ProctorU because of a conflict but that wasn’t a big deal.


Now that I’ve completed the online training and exam, I don’t think I would have prepared any differently.

It’s a good time of year to get your certification done. While I was completing the training, my thoughts were turning to my sprayer and the chemicals I purchase, and what I am going to do in certain fields with springtime in mind. It made me start thinking about equipment and nozzles and certain additive. This winter, right now especially with the weather we’ve been having, is a good time to get it done if you need to it, and I would recommend the online training program.

For more information about the Pesticide Safety Education Program including online training, online testing, in-person testing, or how to register, visit

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About the Author: Jim Martin

Jim Martin is a fifth-generation soybean and corn farmer from Pontiac, Illinois. He is the Illinois Soybean Association District 6 director representing Livingston, McLean and Woodford counties. He has a bachelor's degree in ag industries from the University of Illinois. Along with farming, he operates an independent insurance agency and income tax service.