What is the Role of a Pest Controller?
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What Pest Controllers Do
In a nutshell, the role of a Pest control technician is to ensure that buildings and their surrounding areas are free from pests such as rodents, insects, etc.
Here is the kind of duties, responsibilities and tasks carried out by pest control technicians:
- Inspect premises and their surroundings for signs of pest infestation
- Determine the most appropriate treatment needed to trap, remove or kill pests
- Estimate the time involved and cost of services to be provided to customers
- Draw up and carry out a pest management plan including building proofing and housekeeping recommendations
- Safely apply biocides in structures and the outdoor environment
- Carry out minor building proofing actions to prevent pests ingress and communicate effective pest control measures to prevent infestations
- Plan your routes and drive a van to various addresses throughout the day
In order to be employed as a pest control technician, there are certain requirements that are necessary to become suitable for the role and get a job interview:
- You must have physical stamina and also be able to withstand harsh conditions, as the nature of the role may require standing for long periods, and also for working in an environment that is uncomfortable
- You must be detail-oriented and be able to follow specific instructions in applying biocides to avoid harming clients, pets, and yourself
- You must be customer-focused and possess some good customer service skills
- You need a good ability to keep precise records of chemicals used, payment collected and hours worked
- You should have a team spirit and be able to complete all tasks in a team environment
- You must possess good interpersonal skills and be able to communicate effectively with both colleagues and clients
- You must have excellent time management, process management, and organisational skills
- You should be trustworthy, as jobs are mostly completed without the physical presence of the customer
- You will need to be very knowledgeable about a variety of pests, and also up-to-date with current legislation and industry practice
Pest Control Technicians (or Pest Control Operators – PCOs) play an essential role in maintaining Public Health and Food Safety through pest prevention.
Pests are everywhere around us & without the trained eye and analytical abilities of the Pest Controllers’ inspections, they quickly invade our space, contaminate our food, and can cause illness. We work in & around buildings of all types including apartments, houses, offices, food factories, hospitals, supermarkets, shops, pubs, restaurants, warehouses, schools, etc.
In order to achieve this objective, pest controllers continually assess the environment, i.e. the conditions which are conducive to pest infestations & report any issues to the building manager / owner eg a hole under a door is a potential mice access point and is likely to result in an infestation sooner or later if not dealt with. If the bottom of a wheelie bin is left dirty, it is only a matter of time before flies lay eggs in it.
The main aim of pest prevention is to identify potential issues and get them resolved before an infestation occurs.
Many businesses in Ireland are required to keep written pest inspection records by Laws, Standards, or Auditors.
Pest Controllers’ inspections are summarised on reports highlighting Housekeeping and Proofing issues.
Pest Control companies also undertake cleaning and proofing jobs directly. For instance:
- Supply and fit Bird Spikes and Bird Nets
- Repair/block holes with mesh, concrete, or expanding foam
- Fit Fly screen doors and windows
- Clean up and disinfect after pest damage
Pest controllers actively eradicate pest problems, both outdoors and indoors. It may require only one treatment (e.g. wasp nests) or several treatments depending on the pests (e.g. rodents).
They use a wide range of techniques and equipment for exclusion, proofing or killing (see below: Pest Eradication Tools)
Pest Controllers are trained in pest biology and behaviour.This means they can identify a pest, & thereby determine how to get rid of it once and for all. When it comes to invasive tropical insects, some Pest Controllers specialise in entomology and can identify the most unlikely species (e.g. “Field Biologists”)
The most common inspection/identification equipment include:
- Powerful Torch
- Telescopic mirrors
- Night vision motion cameras
- 30x 60x magnifying glasses
- Insect sample boxes
Pest Control Operators assess the type and extent of an infestation and prepare an eradication / control strategy using a variety of tools and equipment to manage the pest problem. These include:
- Mechanical traps
- Live cages
- Insecticides (liquid, aerosols, foam, dust, smoke, fog)
- Rodenticides (paste, grain, wax blocks)
- Heat and Cold treatments.
Modern professional approach to pest control, combining different methods is known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Strategy
In Ireland, the following are the most common pests in urban areas:
- Mice & rats
- Black ants
- Clothes moths
There are many other pests but not as common, e.g. pharaoh ants, fleas, carpet beetles, stored product beetles, pest birds, etc.
Our Field Biologist Ciaran recently gave advice to The Independent on the main pests affecting Irish houses. For link to the article Click Here.
a) Formal and written Skills:
As reporting and keeping records is an essential part of day-to-day operations, good writing skills are necessary to communicate issues, advice and recommendations. Minimum Leaving Cert. is required.
In order to perform effective work Pest Controllers must integrate a lot of knowledge about pest biology and pest management techniques.
Since January 2018 Pest Controllers in Ireland must have a licence (a “PMU number”) in order to purchase and use biocides, which can be obtained upon successful completion of the Lantra qualification “Level 3 Award in Pest Management Services – Trained Professional User“.
Pest Controllers handle potentially harmful substances and work with contaminated materials. Safe application of biocides and knowledge of legislation restricting the use of certain pest control methods in some areas is mandatory. It is therefore necessary to enroll into in-house training and formal certified courses & diploma.
b) Continuous Professional Development
In order to maintain their licence, Pest Controllers in Ireland must be a member of a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) scheme and update their skills through a variety of activities, e.g. in-house and formal training, conferences and events, reading/studying Pest Control magazines, watching training videos, etc. This is actually interesting, and also provides the opportunity to meet colleagues. It adds to the diversity of the job! For more details about CPD Click Here.
PCOs need to be assertive & have a natural ability to communicate effectively with customers, e.g. analyse pest issues, determine appropriate solutions, reassure customers and encourage them to co-operate in order to achieve control, etc. This is why people who have been in contact with the public through various Customer Service roles make excellent careers in pest control.
d) DIY aptitudes
As most pests are ‘hidden’ , it takes strong DIY aptitudes and initiatives to access hiding / breeding areas. For instance it may be necessary to bore or cut openings in building (plaster-boards) or concrete surroundings, insert borescope inspection cameras, spray nozzle, open manholes etc.
Most pest issues are noticed by customers during core working hours (Monday to Friday, 09:00-17:00). These are also the main hours for accessing premises. Therefore PCO’s work mainly between those hours for scheduled work.
Pest Control is also an ’emergency service’. Pests may occur at any time of the day, night & weekends! In some cases the need for an immediate Pest Control intervention is crucial.
There are also situations where customers are at work during the day & cannot accommodate a visit other than early morning, late afternoon or Saturdays.
Most pest control technicians are on a Saturday shift rota with overtime available as required by the needs of the company/demand of seasonal pest issues.
Pest Control workers usually work alone and drive a Company van with treatment equipment to various sites. They would visit 7 to 14 premises on average during their work day.
The work can be uncomfortable at times (e.g. removing a dead animal), but wearing protective equipment (PPE) and tools makes it much easier. These include
- Disposable overalls
- Disposable Gloves
- Chemical / smell filtering face masks
- Shoe covers
- Litter pickers, etc.
As pests are all around us and constantly interfere with human activities and environment, pest controllers operate in a virtually “recession-proof industry“. It is not known for any qualified pest controller to be out of work in Ireland or UK. Even pest controllers with qualifications from other countries around the world quickly get Irish equivalent diploma/certs.
This is a very reassuring element as we all notice today’s work market becomes more precarious. Pest Control is a secure career especially when someone wants to take on a mortgage or raise a family.