Do You Want to Become a Professional Organizer?

Our NAPO Pittsburgh chapter receives a lot of inquiries about how to get into the professional organizing business. We recommend taking the following classes available through NAPO University.

OD1-OO1 Introduction to Professional Organizing – to learn more about the field of organizing

L1-001 Introduction to Professional Organizing and Productivity – to learn more about the field of organizing and becoming a professional organizer

These two classes will give you an idea of what it takes to become a professional organizer.  If you complete these classes and feel that professional organizing is a good fit for you, there are several other Level 1 classes available, including Fundamental Organizing and Productivity Principles and Starting an Organizing and Productivity Business.

NAPO University also offers Professional Practices Coursework – a package designed to establish a basic knowledge for Organizing and Productivity Professionals, and to provide a path from Provisional Member to Professional Member status.

We also suggest reading about different facets of organizing.  Some of our favorites include:

  • Organizing From The Inside Out, by Julie Morgenstern
  • Getting Things Done, by David Allen
  • The Organized Student, by Donna Goldberg
  • Conquering Chronic Disorganization, by Judith Kolberg
  • Organizing Plain and Simple, by Donna Smallin
  • How To Start A Home-Based Professional Organizing Business, by Dawn Noble

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of what is out there. The Board of Certification for Professional Organizers® (BCPO®) also has a more extensive list of suggested resources on its website.

Commonly asked questions:

Q: Do I need to be a Certified Professional Organizer® (CPO®) in order to start a professional organizing business?

A: No.  In fact, you need to have years of experience and education in order to become a CPO®.

Q: Do I need to be a member of NAPO in order to start a professional organizing business?

A: No, but it is highly recommended.  NAPO offers extensive training and education as well as national and chapter-level camaraderie and support that can be invaluable as you grow your business.  Plus, being a member of a national professional association can give you credibility in the eyes of prospective clients.

Q: What sorts of things do I need to get started?

A: Starting a business can have legal, financial, and tax implications, so it’s important to make informed decisions right from the beginning.  Some of these decisions include determining your business structure (LLC, sole proprietor, etc.), getting insurance, filing appropriate paperwork with your city/county/state, maintaining good bookkeeping records, and filing taxes properly.  Local resources to help you with the process may include but are not limited to: The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham College, the Small Business Development Center at Duquesne University, the Small Business Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh, and SCORE Pittsburgh.

And don’t forget to check out NAPO’s educational resources that can help you start your organizing business, as well as NAPO national and chapter membership. Our monthly chapter meetings are a great opportunity to network and meet others in the industry.

Q: Do all professional organizers do the same thing? 

A: Many professional organizers start out in the residential arena (decluttering and organizing closets, pantries, garages, etc.) but there’s so much more than this.  We encourage prospective organizers to reflect upon their own background and use this when figuring out which direction they’d like to pursue.

Organizers do much more than sort, purge, and containerize.  We teach our clients how to organize so that they’ve learned the skills to continue on their own after we’ve completed our work with them.  We assist clients with photo and paper organizing and provide home office organization, time management, coaching, and corporate productivity improvement.  We educate clients and the public through writing blogs and books, by coaching, and through giving presentations, lectures, and workshops.  We work with students, children, seniors, and people who have hoarding issues or who are chronically disorganized, moving, or downsizing.  And we work with clients in person, over the phone, through the internet, and a combination of any of these. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what you can do in this profession!

Q: Do professional organizers work alone or with others?

A: Although many professional organizers begin as a sole proprietor or as a subcontractor for other organizers, there are a variety of business models to choose from.  Consider consulting with a tax or legal professional to determine which might be the best for your situation.

Q: Are there any rules or guidelines for professional organizers?

A: Every professional organizer creates his or her own business focus and methodology based on training, experience, and education.  However, all NAPO members agree to adhere to NAPO’s Code of Ethics.

 Q: Is it okay to contact area organizers and ask them questions?

A: NAPO Pittsburgh members are a generally giving group of people, but please remember that we are all small business owners who also have busy family and social lives.  We happily invite you to attend our chapter meetings so that we have the opportunity to meet you and share our expertise.  If you do contact individual organizers, you may want to have your questions prepared in advance and, depending on the amount of time you desire to spend with them, consider offering to pay his or her hourly rate.  Some organizers also offer mentoring programs for a fee that can help reduce your learning curve as a new or aspiring professional organizer.