Killing Bugs for a Living: Being an Exterminator in Toronto


No longer confined to seedy rooming houses, bed bugs are booming in Toronto. On the employment side, this unlucky fact of life does have a bright side — someone needs to kill the creepy crawlies — and that someone could be you. Pest control jobs aren’t for the faint of heart.

Read on if you’re not squeamish about working in bug-infested apartments or applying toxic chemicals, and you wouldn’t mind a physical job that involves wearing heavy protective gear. There is more to pest control work than terminating bed bugs, ants, termites, and cockroaches. These workers also set traps to remove birds and animals like mice, rats, and Toronto’s ever-present raccoons.

Other duties include:

  • Inspecting buildings and outside areas to detect signs of infestation and extent of damage
  • Determining the type of treatment required
  • Fumigating households
  • Installing animal control barriers

In addition to working in houses or apartments, pest control companies also have industrial clients, especially restaurants and food retail stores. In Canada, in order to apply pesticides, you must be certified, which can be attained through the University of Guelph’s at-home exterminator training program.

The university also offers Ontario Pesticide Training for would-be pest control technicians, who organize materials and prepare equipment for exterminators. These workers can only apply pesticides under the watchful eye of a licensed exterminator.

Some pest control technicians have additional sales duties, and good customer service skills are an asset for everyone in the industry: remember, clients may be stressed, creeped out, and downright afraid of their unwanted intruders. For this line of work, a driver’s licence is highly recommended, and you should have at least high school education.

Note that Fleming College in Lindsay offers a 41-week Pest Management Techniques Program, the only one of its kind in Ontario. Developed in response to industry demand for employees, this program includes a 16-week paid co-op experience.

According to Fleming College, there’s a shortage of candidates for both entry-level and more progressive jobs in the pest control industry. South of the border, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that employment of pest control workers is projected to grow 20 percent from 2012 to 2022. You can look for job postings on the Pest Control Canada website, or the Structural Pest Management Association of Ontario.


Katherine O’Brien is a freelance writer and editor who worked for many years at an online magazine geared to Toronto job seekers, writing about job search strategies, careers, and labour market information.

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