Are You An Expert In Pest Control? I hope Not

expert witness http://pestcemetery.com/Not to long ago I was contacted by a law firm asking if I’d be interested in being an “expert” in a case involving termite damage. (amazing how my little site reaches out)

I don’t mind saying–I couldn’t say NO fast enough. Part of the reason is because I just couldn’t take time away from my work but to be honest- a bigger part is I didn’t think I was qualified as an expert and didn’t want to get chewed up by a legal eagle in a suit and tie.

Also recently, there’s been a hub bub about the theory that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything. Some say yes, others say no and the estimates and qualifications needed for that status range all over the place. Malcolm Gladwell, the originator of 10,000 hour concept actually never said the 10k gets you to the expert level, but, that it puts you in a super stratosphere level where few reach. Phenomenon’s like Michael Jordon, Bobby Fisher, Peyton Manning, etc. And thus mere experts–well they are somewhere below. It’s a fascinating subject and it got me to wondering.

In pest control, am I an expert or a phenom……?

So What Is The Definition Of An Expert?

Well here’s part of best I could find;

Capacity, knowledge, or skill that matches or suits an occasion, or makes someone eligible for a duty, office, position, privilege, or status. Qualification denotes fitness for purpose through fulfillment of necessary conditions such as attainment of a certain age, taking of an oath, completion of required schooling or training, or acquisition of a degree or diploma.

I must say, if this is the definition it doesn’t surprise me that ‘Everyones’ an expert. I could argue that in Florida (my state) one only needs to be trained 5 days before you can legally throw em out on their own performing pest control. I don’t see much in this definition that keeps us from calling that tech an expert, do you? The funny part of this lengthy definition I found that really struck me as ironic was;

Qualification does not necessarily imply competence.

Egads! Am I glad I turned down that expert witness offer. I’m sure they just replaced me with a guy/gal who just 6 months ago was selling vacuums door to door.

The other aspect was are you an expert in a very specific field and not just a broad spectrum? The most common thing I could find in defining ones “expertise” in anything was that it was not only in the head knowledge of a certain subject, but the actual doing or participating in that field.

So What Am I?

So putting all this together, the 10,000 hours, book knowledge & doing, am I an expert, or at that Outlier level? Going one more step, in what specific areas am I at that level and what parts of pest control am I just an “expert?”

Let’s do the math (Which btw, I’m only an expert in)

If I just said ‘Pest Control’

40 hour work week (2,400 minutes) x 50 work weeks per year (120,000 minutes) x 30 years (3,600,000 minutes) / (divided by) 60 (60 min to an hour) = 60,000 hours– Well toot my horn and pin a medal on me! I bet your number is high too! Try it!

BUT IF WE GOT SPECIFIC

Am I a roach expert or phenom ? (really rough estimates & your formula may vary- I factored in my MANY slow years and not just what I do now & didn’t factor in study time)

avg. 20 (specific) roach jobs per week x 1/2 hour per x 50 work weeks per year x 30 years in industry = 900,000 minutes then divided by / 60 (hour)= 15,000 hours. woo hoo! The Michael Jordon of roaches. 🙂

Am I a termite expert or? (includes inspections & treatments)

avg. 7 jobs per week x 1.5 hour (so 90 minutes) per x 50 work weeks x 30 years / 60 = 15,750. Who da man?

Am I a bed bug expert or? (had to change my formula–maybe you do too?)

avg. 1/2 job per year x 2.5 (whole job is 5 hours or so) x 30 years / 60 = 37.5 hours. Ugh! I’m ready to scrap this article! Well, on the bright side, by definition I’m still an expert 😉 Just think, in about another 300 years I’ll be a phenom!

Of course this list list could go on and on and hopefully I’m making my point. Am I a stored product pest expert or phenom? Bird control, earwig, flea, lawn, etc. etc. etc. It’s so easy to banter around the title of expert and whose to say you are or you’re not. My numbers are pretty high in a few categories really just because I’ve been around so long. I hired a guy once with 23 years and he was about as (pest control) smart as a box of rocks. This then get’s me to thinking about our new brand of experts out there. You know, the customer who logs on to a web site and suddenly tells you what they have, how you should treat them and lists 5 different chemicals they prefer…… PLEASE!!!!!!!! As flawed as my formula is they still wouldn’t make it into even the ‘greenhorn’ category!

That said, we, as professionals maybe need to think this through and make sure we’re doing everything we can NOT to be, just an expert.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • dan

    enjoyed this one

  • Glad to hear & Thank You

  • Daniel D Dye

    This was good, Jerry!

  • Thanks Daniel! I appreciate your comment immensely in that you too are an author.

  • Thank you sir!

  • george lemieux

    there are no experts in pest control hahahahha See, you accumulate hours working with ants but if you’re good, those ants die and next season you work with OTHER ants so the clock gets reset. See? there’s no way you work with some pest for 10.000 hrs. So legally speaking hahahha there are no experts, it is imposible to be an expert in pest control. (Same with bait if you want to ignore the pest: bait you use is different from the bait you used and bait you will use…because what you use now will get either old or used-up so you will buy new bait, maybe same type but new tube, granules, liquid bottle, etc…it is always new bait. Of the same kind…maybe, but it’s new so how can you be expert in Termidor when the Termidor bottle you used last time has being replaced by new bottle? And no, you can’t say it is the same stuff because you paid $55 for the first bottle and $55 for the second bottle but if they were the same, identical, you would have gotten both for the $55 but since you paid twice, you got 2 different products, right? 🙂