Custom Applicator | Bismarck State College

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Custom Applicator

What is a Custom Applicator?

Custom Application is a service provided by agronomy centers to area farmers. Farming operations may also hire a personal custom applicator. Custom Applicators mix, load and apply pesticides and fertilizers to fields at approved applicable rates. They are responsible for the operation of spray equipment and the effective application of pesticides or fertilizer. Custom Applicators also operate and maintain a variety of equipment and vehicles including sprayers, spreaders, and trucks. They use software systems to assure accuracy and environmental stewardship while maintaining accurate application records and communication with customers.

Custom Applicators are responsible for operating and maintaining all equipment and vehicles, mixing, loading and applying pesticides and fertilizers, handling and delivering bulk and packaged chemicals, maintaining application/spray records, managing customer service relations, organizing and coordinating with customers, being knowledgeable of seed, chemicals and fertilizer to make informed decisions.

Please complete the interest form below if you would like to be contacted when registration is available for the next class.



Career Opportunities

Become a Custom Applicator and prepare for a high-demand career in the agriculture industry, the number one industry in North Dakota and the Midwest. The need for Custom Applicators is projected to increase by 10% over the next five years. Several agriculture career hiring firms indicate Custom Applicators are in the top five in-demand jobs in agriculture.

An affordable and quick stackable certificate!

The Custom Applicator program prepares participants in custom application of crop protection products. Greater technical expertise is required to ensure proper application of fertilizers and pesticides due to developments in precision equipment, advanced crop technologies, and increased environmental awareness. Introducing the concepts necessary for proper operation of applicator equipment, the training will provide students with the necessary skills for success in this career field.

Course Outcomes

The Custom Applicator training program is a combination of classroom theory and hands-on training in precision agriculture, agronomy, and agriculture math concepts. Content delivery is provided in multiple formats including lecture, class discussion, independent assignments, and hands-on or behind-the-wheel demonstrations.

This program culminates in a one-week, on-campus industry training where students receive hands-on training on applicator equipment operation and maintenance. Industry members providing expertise and equipment include RDO, Case IH and Butler.

Flexibility of online instruction, combined with intensive industry training, allows students to gain the skills needed for this high-demand career while continuing to work.

Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive a Bismarck State College Custom Applicator Certification and a North Dakota Commercial Applicator License.*

Students will be prepared to take the Commercial Drivers License’s (CDL) permit exam.

* Reciprocity eligible for bordering states

Course Details

Precision Agriculture Operation 

Self-paced, Online (estimated at four hours per week)

Provides a background on precision agriculture. Emphasizes working with control consoles, equipment, precision digital platforms, zone management, and variable rate management.


Applied Agronomy 

Self-paced, Online (estimated at four hours per week)

Teaches the basics of crop and pest identification. Covers types of pesticides and fertilizers, their uses, and application methods. Provides an emphasis on pesticides in the environment and how to avoid off-target contamination. Students will be prepared to take the Commercial Applicator Ground Core exam.


Fertilizer and Pesticide Calculations 

Self-paced, Online (estimated at four hours per week)

Applies mathematical concepts and skills as they relate to fertilizer blending and pesticide mixing and application.


Applicator Equipment Operations 

Self-paced, Online (estimated at four hours per week)

Students will acquire knowledge of applied theory and concepts of the operation and maintenance of equipment utilized in custom application of crop protection products. Student will be prepared to take the CDL permit exam.


Applicator Equipment Training and Certification 

In-person, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm (40 hours)

BPS Career Academy, Room Multipurpose Room

Students will acquire hands-on training on the operation and maintenance of Butler, Case IH and John Deere equipment utilized in custom application of crop protection products. A North Dakota Commercial Pesticide Certification exam is included in this course. Participants who take the exam will be advised to register with the NDSU Pesticide Extension. The fee to take the exam is the participant's responsibility and is estimated at $150.

Length of Program

To showcase competency, commitment to the profession, to build expertise in the Custom Applicator profession, and to assist with job advancement, it is recommended that students complete all five courses. Students are given 8 weeks to complete the first four courses simultaneously before beginning hands-on course.

Course Size

Each course is limited enrollment. Enrollment is based on a first-come, first-served basis. Waiting lists are established once classes have met maximum enrollment. Review the computer requirements at Refund Policy To be eligible for a refund of the course fee, students must request the refund at least three (3) business days prior to the start of the course. A $25.00 processing fee will be deducted from the amount refunded. No refunds will be issued with notice fewer than three (3) business days prior to the start of the course.

Prerequisites and/or Requirements

Registration closes January 3, 2023. Before registering, please understand the course commitment and refund policy. Register online at or in-person at Bismarck State College, National Energy Center of Excellence, 1200 Schafer Street, Room 107. Payment must be remitted at the time of registration. After registering, you will receive an email that includes detailed instructions on how to access the online course content. No books required.

“This work is supported by grant #2020-67037-31037 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.”

"Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and should not be construed to represent any official USDA or U.S. Government determination or policy."Logo | USDA