Aerial Applicator
Pilot Training Certificate

Our Ag Pilot Training is One of a Kind

Delta State has a unique program in the College of Business and Aviation that allows students to earn an Aerial Applicator Pilot Training Certificate. This ag pilot program is designed for individuals with a private pilot’s license (PPL) and a minimum of 50 hours of flight experience, who are interested in becoming aerial applicators.

There is a global shortage of agricultural pilots, ensuring immediate job placement upon earning your certificate. Pilots in this industry play a crucial role in meeting the world’s demand of food, fiber, and biofuel. With a growing population, a shortage of pilots, and aging aerial agricultural applicators, the need for new aerial applicators is critical.

The certificate program provides an exciting career opportunity for pilots, with the potential for great pay. Students are required to have an ag operator as a mentor/sponsor. All training is conducted in Cleveland, Mississippi.


Month Program


Students Accepted
Per Year


Job Placement

Why Choose the Aerial Applicator
Certification Program at DSU?

Five students standing in front of a crop duster plane on an airport runway.

Aside from the fact that it is exclusive to Delta State, we have the state-of-the-art facilities and expert faculty that provide unique hands-on experiences you cannot get anywhere else. Delta State’s commercial aviation program has everything you need to launch your career to new heights. First year ag pilots can earn up to $75K+ due to the high demand for pilots. Possession of an aerial applicator certificate drastically reduces insurance rates for pilots and their employers, making them even more desirable as employees.

  • Workforce certification (apprenticeship)
  • Tailwheel and turbine endorsement
  • Engine Endorsements
  • Instruments and Commercial ratings
  • Daily Ground and Flight training
  • Applicants selected early August of each year
  • Program duration, Oct. 1 thru May 31
  • Applications accepted year-round

What Can I Do With an Aerial Applicator Certificate?

Aerial application is the preferred method for delivering pesticides, fertilizers, and fungicides to a crop. It is exponentially faster than using ground machinery, and greatly reduces mechanical damage to the plant. In earning your certification, you will learn how to safely and efficiently handle, mix, and apply farm chemicals. Completing our ag pilot program ensures that you will be a valuable expert meeting the demand for food, fiber, and biofuel as these needs become more and more critical around the world.

Federal and State Grant Funds

The Agricultural Aircraft Operations Career Pathway, a $2 million federal earmark procured specifically for this program by U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, is to fund partnership-based programs to increase the number of insurable ag pilots. DSU serves as the Lead Agency, with Mississippi Delta Community College, WIN Job Centers, Agricultural Flight Operator Business, and South Delta Planning and Development District participating in the administration of the funds. State and Federal Grant Scholarships are also available to pilots entering the program.

Program Goals

The goal of the Aerial Applicator Pilot Certification program is to graduate ten Aerial Applicator Pilots per year. The program provides opportunities for pilots to pursue a career in the aerial applicator industry, while also meeting a nationwide demand for ag pilots. Our principal goal is to increase the number of insurable ag pilots in the state of Mississippi and the United States.

Crop duster plane spraying green field with chemicals.

Admission Requirements

  • Applicants must have their Private Pilot’s License and 50 hours of Tail wheel flight time.
  • Interested pilots should contact Shelia Millican for application and admission to the certificate program.
  • Students must pass an in-person interview.
  • The selection committee will choose the 10 students that will enter the program.


  • Ground and Flight training
  • HAZMAT training
  • LIGHT BAR training
  • Instrument training
  • Commercial, instrument, and ground
  • AT/802 training
  • Advanced turbine training
  • C180 and C188 Citabria


The ag pilot certificate program is grant funded, and students’ instrument and commercial training can be covered by grant funds. Grant funds are also available to cover a percentage of turbine transition and advance turbine transition courses. For more information regarding fees, please contact Shelia Millican.

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