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If you’ve ever had a bat trapped in your attic or heard the frightening sound of cockroaches scampering through your kitchen cabinets, you’ve probably called an exterminator. These professionals, who are charged with removing unwanted critters from homes and other buildings, must know the biology of wide range of pests, from termites to birds, and identify the best ways to eliminate or remove them. Exterminators inspect buildings, take measurements, estimate the cost of their services and use chemicals and barriers to ensure pests don’t return. There are different kinds of exterminators, including fumigators, who seal off buildings and employ gases to suffocate or poison pests, and termite control technicians, who work to rid a building’s structure of the insects. Exterminators must wear protective gear, such as gloves and goggles, while doing their work.

The job outlook is better than average for exterminators, as more people use pest control services rather than attempt to get rid of pests themselves. Extermination jobs are projected to rise 19.7 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Due to the small number of people working as exterminators (65,400 in 2012), and the need to replace workers, the job prospects for exterminators look healthy.


Exterminators earned a median salary of $30,060 in 2012, with the highest-paid exterminators making $47,770 and the lowest-paid exterminators making $19,540 a year. The highest-paying exterminator jobs are found in Grand Junction, Colo., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Seattle.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $38,240
Median $30,060
25th Percentile $24,620


Usually, the minimum education requirements are a high school diploma or its equivalent. Pest control workers must be licensed, however, and licensing requirements vary by state. Most employers offer on-the-job training, which typically lasts less than three months. Exterminators can study a specialization, such as rodent control or fumigation.

Reviews & Advice

Bruce Wren first saw a job advertisement for a Terminix exterminator in 1992 while he was working in customer service at Wal-Mart. Wren got the job and moved up the ranks from termite technician to pest technician to service manager, then branch manager and eventually region manager of Dallas, his current position. He says hard work, a positive attitude and the ability to multitask are important skills that helped him prove himself on the job, and seeing similar qualities in his employees and recruits plays into his hiring decisions today. “Experience doesn’t play that big of a role. If a person is licensed, they’re out in the field and move up quickly, but sometimes the more experienced people can pick up bad habits,” Wren says. “At some companies, people aren’t taking their shoes off before they walk in the house, and they’re not making calls before you get there or before you leave.”

Exterminators must communicate with customers in their own homes, which makes the business more personal and requires good people skills. “They need a big smile, positive attitude and be someone who likes to talk. If I have to pry answers out of them, that’s a red flag,” Wren adds.

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility fair Average
Stress Level poor Above Average
Flexibility fair Average
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Last updated by Casey Quinlan.

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