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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Pest Control Service in San Jose

In 2021, the Santa Clara County Vector Control District received over 2,800 public service requests from residents of the San Jose area concerning rodent infestations, insect identifications and consultations, pest removals, and other similar matters. DIY pest control is usually ineffective, and you should always hire a professional exterminator if you want to get effective and long-term solutions to your pest problems. To ensure that you hire experienced exterminators in San Jose that provide their services per the recommendations of the city's Integrated Pest Management Policy, you should ask the following questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as an Exterminator in San Jose?

Per the stipulations of the California Structural Pest Control Act, individuals and businesses in San Jose that wish to provide services related to controlling the spread of household pests and wood-destroying organisms in the city must obtain an appropriate state-issued license before doing so. These licenses are issued by the California Structural Pest Control Board (SPCB) and exterminators that fail to comply with this mandatory licensing requirement can receive civil and criminal penalties that include fines of up to $5,000 and jail time of up to six months.

Pest control services that are regulated by the SPCB are grouped into three different categories, namely:

  • Branch 1 - Fumigation: this category deals with controlling household and wood-destroying pests through the use of fumigation with lethal or poisonous gases
  • Branch 2 - General Pest: this category deals with controlling household pests through the use of any means or methods that excludes fumigation with lethal or poisonous gases
  • Branch 3 - Wood-Destroying Organisms: this category deals with controlling wood-destroying pests and organisms through the use of insecticides, structural repairs and corrections, and other similar means that exclude fumigation with lethal or poisonous gases

Similarly, the SPCB also issues three different types of licenses to interested exterminators in San Jose that authorize them to provide specified scopes of pest control services:

  • Applicator licenses: this license is considered the SPCB's entry-level license. Exterminators that obtain this license can provide pest control services that involve eliminating, exterminating, controlling, and preventing pest and organism infestations or infections by applying pesticides, rodenticides, and other allied chemicals or substances. Note that the scope of this work is limited to the board's Branch 2 - General Pest and Branch 3 - Wood Destroying Organisms pest control categories. Also, exterminators that hold applicator licenses must provide their services on behalf of an SPCB-registered pest control company or business and they are not allowed to contract for pest control work on their own behalf
  • Field Executive Licenses: exterminators that obtain a field executive license can provide pest control services that involve identifying infestations and infections, making inspections, and submitting bids for pest control work on behalf of registered pest control companies or businesses. The scope of the aforementioned pest control services is open to all three branches of the SPCB's pest control categories. However, exterminators that hold field executive licenses are not allowed to provide these services or contract for pest control work on their own behalf
  • Operator Licenses: exterminators that hold this license can provide the same types of services that holders of SPCB-issued field executive licenses hold. In addition, holders of operator licenses are also authorized to operate their own pest control businesses or act as qualifying managers for another pest control business or company

Interested parties that wish to obtain any of the aforementioned licenses may do so by completing and submitting an appropriate Examination Application Form to the SPCB at:

Structural Pest Control Board
2005 Evergreen Street
Suite 1500
Sacramento, CA 95815

Note that applicants that have submitted a previous application and taken the SPCB's licensing examination within the past six months will be required to complete and submit a Re-examination Form instead. Likewise, applicants that wish to obtain operator licenses are required to complete approved pre-operator courses and submit proof of this along with their applications.

Once the submitted application forms, along with any relevant supporting documentation and stipulated fees, have been received and reviewed, the applicants are provided instructions for scheduling their board-administered licensing examinations. You can direct inquiries concerning this license application process to the SPCB's Licensing Unit at (916) 561-8704.

Always confirm your intended exterminator's licensing status before they commence any pest control work in your home. Note that if you require the services of an exterminator for non-household pests and wood-destroying organisms-related services, then they may be required to hold additional licenses or certifications. These separate licenses and certifications are also typically required for work that involves applying state or federally-restricted pesticides, and they are issued at the state level by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). You can contact this department's Licensing and Certification Office at (916) 445-4038 to get additional information on its licensing and certification procedure.

You can confirm SPCB and DPR-issued exterminator licenses online via the respective Search for a License and List of DPR Licensees webpages that these agencies provide and make accessible to interested members of the public for this purpose.

Are You Registered with the California State Pest Control Association?

While it is important to confirm that your San Jose exterminator holds a valid state-issued license, you should also consider going a step further by looking out for exterminators that are members of the Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC). Membership of this association generally indicates competence and professionalism on the part of the exterminator, and hiring member exterminators also offers you several advantages, such as:

  • Member exterminators have access to continuous pest-related education and training opportunities, which generally makes them more knowledgeable than their counterparts
  • Member exterminators are regularly updated on changes and amendments to relevant local, state, and federal pesticide laws and regulations
  • Member exterminators have access to better insurance options
  • Member exterminators are bound by the association's Code of Ethics, which in turn provides you with an avenue for mediation in situations where they provide their services unprofessionally or unsatisfactorily

You can find exterminators in San Jose that are members of the Pest Control Operators of California by utilizing this association's Operator Search portal. Note that professional exterminators in the city may also belong to other reputable pest control-related trade associations, such as the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). Nonetheless, always request proof of membership from exterminators that claim to belong to trade associations and verify this proof with the appropriate association. Also, always verify the exterminator's licensing status, regardless of the trade associations that they belong to.

How Much Do You Charge for Pest Control and Why?

Finding out the cost of your required pest control services before any work commences is necessary in avoiding disagreements with your exterminator down the road. Per data provided by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, exterminators in the San Jose area are believed to earn an average hourly wage of $24.72 for their services. However, in addition to these wages, several other factors will ultimately affect the total cost of your requested pest control services. These factors include:

  • The specific type of pest control services that you request
  • The types of pests involved
  • The size of your home
  • Your location within the city
  • Accessibility to the infested areas
  • The exterminator's reputation and experience
  • The type of pest control methods used for the job
  • The severity of the pest infestation
  • The number and frequency of required pest treatments

It is always a good idea to get cost estimates for your required pest control services from several exterminators in the city before making your final hiring decision. Note that you should not just hire the exterminator with the lowest rates. Compare these rates and question any significant discrepancies that you notice in them. Doing this helps you avoid falling victim to scams by unscrupulous exterminators.

Pest control workers in San Jose earn an average annual wage of $51,410. The list below compares the average hourly wages of this category of professionals in the city with those in other parts of the State of California and other locations across the United States:

San Jose Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$24.72
Los Angeles Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$20.91
San Francisco Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$23.24
San Diego Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$20.67
Oakland Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$23.24
Sacramento Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.64
Chicago Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.05
New York City Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$21.35
Houston Pest Control Workers Average Hourly Wage
$19.30

Do You Comply with the City of San Jose Regulations for Pesticide Application?

Making sure that your exterminator knows and complies with relevant local and state pesticide laws and guidance not only ensures that you receive satisfactory pest control services but also protects you from voluntarily or involuntarily violating these laws. Pesticide-related activities in San Jose are regulated by state-level laws like the California Structural Pest Control Act and Division 6 of the California Food and Control Code. The city also provides local guidance that recommends best management practices and standard operating procedures for these activities. Some critical requirements of these laws and guidance include:

  • The mandatory licensing of all exterminators in the city by either the state's Structural Pest Control Board, or the Department of Pesticide Regulation where applicable
  • Making sure that adequate written notice is given to occupants of structures and buildings before pesticides are used. These notices should indicate the type of pesticide to be used, its active ingredient, and the type of pest to be controlled. Note that, in situations that involve fumigation activities, these notices must be issued at least 48 hours before the fumigation is done
  • Ensuring that only EPA-registered pesticides are used and that all areas where these pesticides are applied are properly ventilated per the label requirements of the pesticides used

You can get additional information on the requirements of the aforementioned regulations that may pertain to your specific pest control services by contacting the California Structural Pest Control Board at (916) 561-8700. Queries concerning this subject can also be directed to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the San Jose Customer Service Contact Center at (916) 445-3976 and (408) 535-3500 respectively.

What Type of Pest Control Method Are You Using?

Finding out the type of pest control methods that your exterminators plan to use is an important step to take in ensuring that your pest problems are solved effectively. Professional exterminators in San Jose generally utilize an Integrated Pest Management Policy when providing their services, which combines four different types of pest control methods to ensure the effective and long-term management of pest problems. These four pest control methods are:

  • Biological Pest Control
  • Cultural Pest Control
  • Mechanical and Physical Pest Control
  • Chemical Pest Control

Biological pest control involves using a pest's natural predators or enemies to control its growth, spread, and damage in the infested area while mechanical and physical pest control involves taking actions to make the environment unsuitable for the pest's survival. Likewise, cultural pest control refers to practices or habit changes that are designed to reduce the pest's reproduction, establishment, dispersal, and survival in the affected area. Finally, chemical pest control involves the use of pesticides like CimeXa Insecticide Dust and Termidor SC Concentrate to reduce pest population and is usually required when the other pest control methods prove ineffective.

The effective combination of these pest control methods ensures that your pest control services are provided in a manner that mitigates the human and environmental risks of these services while also ensuring that your pest problems are adequately resolved. As such, it is always in your best interest to confirm that your preferred exterminator implements the integrated pest management policy when providing pest control services. You can find exterminators in the San Jose area that effectively do so via online directories provided by organizations like the Pest Control Operators of California and the Better Business Bureau.

What Household Pests Do You Control?

Pest control services can be grouped into three main categories namely:

  • Pest extermination
  • Pest removal
  • Pest prevention

Pest extermination and pest removal involve locating and getting rid of existing pest infestations while pest prevention involves preventing pests from entering and infesting your home in the first place. To this end, always confirm that your intended exterminator has the right level of experience and the proper tools to provide the specific type of pest control services that you require. Also, while professional exterminators in San Jose typically offer pest control services for a wide range of household pests, such as rats, mice, roaches, termites, ticks, mosquitoes, and ants, some exterminators focus their services on specific types of pests. Thus, always confirm that your intended exterminator's area of specialization aligns with your specific pest problem before reaching any final arrangements with them.

The list below provides cost estimates for several types of pest control services that are commonly requested in San Jose. Note that factors like your location in the city and the severity of your pest infestation problem will influence the actual cost of these services:

Ant control
$95 - $400
Bat removal
$248 - $360 per visit
Bed bug treatment
$290 - $380
Beehive removal
$90 - $400
Beetle control
$80 - $400
Bug and insect treatment
$190 - $230 (for initial treatment for standard four-bedroom home)
Flea control
$150 - $350
Mosquito control
$173 - $250 (for one-time treatment)
Mouse/rat extermination
$80 - $260
Roach extermination
$90 - $375
Rodent inspection and trap setting
$216 - $240
Silverfish extermination
$125 - $385
Small animal removal
$80 - $570
Spider removal
$120 - $215
Termite extermination
$490 - $2,500
Termite treatment
$9.30 - $12.80 per linear foot (for chemical treatment)
Tick control
$180 - $455
Wasp control
$110 - $805

Do You Carry the Necessary Right Insurance Policy for Exterminators in San Jose?

Exterminators routinely face on-the-job hazards like exposure to pesticides and other chemicals, zoonotic disease infections from rodents, fleas, mosquitoes, and other insects, and physical injuries from traps and other similar pest control tools. Hiring uninsured exterminators can cost you hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses if they sustain any injuries or damage your property when providing your requested pest control services. Thus, it is always in your best interest to confirm your exterminator's insurance status before they commence any work in your home.

Per the requirements of the California Structural Pest Control Act, exterminators in San Jose are statutorily required to maintain an insurance policy with minimum limits of $500,000 for any single loss due to bodily injury, sickness, disease, or death. This policy must also have a minimum coverage limit of $500,000 for any single loss due to injury or destruction of property. Likewise, pest control companies in the city must post and maintain indemnity bonds of $12,500. Note that pest control companies that are licensed by the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation may be required to comply with additional liability insurance requirements and also carry state-mandated workers' compensation insurance for their employees.

You can confirm that your intended exterminator has complied with all applicable insurance and bond requirements by asking for documentary proof of this, which is usually in the form of insurance and bond certificates. Contact the relevant insurance or bond providers to validate the authenticity of the provided proof.

Additional information on the insurance and bonding requirements for exterminators and pest control companies in San Jose can be gotten by contacting the following agencies:

  • The California Structural Pest Control Board - (916) 561-8704
  • The California Department of Pesticide Regulation - (916) 445-4038
  • The San Jose District Office of the California Division of Worker's Compensation - (408) 277-1246

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Exterminator in San Jose

You may not be able to file complaints against bad exterminators with local city authorities in San Jose. Nevertheless, several state agencies, such as the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the California Structural Pest Control Board are authorized to investigate exterminator and pesticide-related matters that occur in the city.

While many exterminators and pest control companies in San Jose provide their services professionally, some of these parties may take deliberate actions to defraud or scam unsuspecting homeowners and consumers in the area. Some of these actions include:

  • Lying about their licensing status or providing services outside the scope of their licenses
  • Requesting full payment for their services upfront and then failing to properly provide these services
  • Deceiving consumers on the actual costs of their services
  • Charging premium rates for services but using subpar materials to provide these services

In 2020, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation announced that it had reached a settlement agreement with a pest control company that had violated several pesticide regulations across seven counties in the state, including the San Jose area. During this period, 69 accusation matters concerning household pest control services were also referred to by the California Structural Pest Control Board to the state's Attorney General's Office for prosecution. To greatly reduce your chances of falling victim to pest control scams in San Jose, you should always take the following precautions when dealing with exterminators and pest control companies in the city:

  • Do not hire door-to-door exterminators that offer unsolicited pest control services
  • Consider researching your pest problem and suitable pest control methods for this problem before beginning your search for a professional exterminator
  • Get referrals to professional exterminators in the city from friends, relatives, and acquaintances that have had similar pest problems. Alternatively, you can utilize platforms provided by organizations like the Better Business Bureau and the Pest Control Operators of California to get referrals to these exterminators
  • Get written estimates for your required services from at least two or three exterminators in the city and compare these estimates before making your final decision. It is advisable that the exterminators inspect the infested areas before providing their estimates
  • Never hire unlicensed exterminators. You can confirm that your preferred exterminator has been duly licensed by SPCB by utilizing its Search for a License webpage. If you require non-household pest control services, confirm that the exterminator has also been licensed or certified by the DPR by accessing its List of Licensees
  • Confirm your exterminator's insurance and bonding status
  • Request references from your exterminator and be wary of any exterminators that cannot provide you with at least three verifiable local references
  • Find out the types of pesticides, if any, that will be used for the job and how these pesticides will be applied
  • Always request a written contract that clearly states the nature and scope of the pest control services as well as the total cost of these services. This contract should also include a guarantee from the exterminator on the effectiveness of the pest control services
  • Properly review any documents that you are asked to sign before doing so
  • Do not make full upfront payments and be wary of exterminators that ask you to do this. It is also a good idea to avoid cash transactions

You can file complaints concerning unsatisfactory pest control services and pest control scams in San Jose with the California Structural Pest Control Board by calling (916) 561-8708. Complaints can also be filed with this office by mailing a consumer complaint form to:

Structural Pest Control Board
2005 Evergreen Street
Suite 1500
Sacramento, CA 95815

It is important to note that the matters that are being complained about must have occurred no later than two years before the incident in question took place.

Reports concerning pesticide-related matters in San Jose can also be made by contacting the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Santa Clara County Division of Agriculture at (916) 324-4100 and (408) 918-4600 respectively.

Choosing Between Local Pest Control Firms and Large National Chains: The Pros and Cons

Despite taking efforts like checking that your selected exterminators are adequately licensed, specialize in the types of pest problems you have, and use correct pest control procedures to address these problems, you may still be unclear of the most qualified professional to hire. Oftentimes, consumers in San Jose are frequently torn between hiring a local exterminator and retaining the services of well-known companies such as Orkin, Terminix, Ehrlich, Arrow Exterminators, and Truly Nolen. If you've arrived at this point, considering the pros and cons of hiring local exterminators against hiring national pest control companies can help you make the best choice:

Pros

Local Pest Control Firms
Cheap for routine pest treatment and maintenance
Affordable and highly customizable Pest Control Plans
Deep understanding of the local environment's climatic conditions and seasonal pest infestations
Quicker service turnaround due to proximity
More personal customer service
Nationwide Pest Control Brands
Suitable for routine pest treatment of large homes, offices, and other commercial places
Standardized Pricing and Plan
Perfect for specialized pest treatments requiring sophisticated tools
Retain the services of a wide range of Pest Control professionals
Broader service offerings

Cons

Local Pest Control Firms
Limited specialized equipment for pest control
Limited manpower and resources to clean large area
Nationwide Pest Control Brands
Expensive pest control plans
Same-treatment approach to all customers