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Becoming a Professional Organizer — FAQs


1. I've always been an organized person and people constantly comment on my organizing abilities. Does this mean I will make a good Organizer?

While being organized yourself is a definite asset, simply doing what works for you may not work for a client. Critical skills that a Professional Organizer must have are the ability to create customized organizing solutions for each client and to communicate clearly the steps necessary to implement them.

2. Why does one choose to become an Organizer?

Organizing can offer flexible work hours, a chance to run your own business, and opportunities to work with people. Many Organizers have found organizing after careers in other fields. Some have had the experience of repeatedly being called upon to perform organizing tasks for organizations and businesses and recognized the option of doing the same work on their own terms. Others decided to pursue organizing and then worked as assistants or apprentices until they gained the experience and confidence to start businesses of their own.

3. What are the qualifications necessary or requirements for becoming a Professional Organizer?

Organizing is still an unregulated industry, and therefore, there are no strictly defined requirements or qualifications.

However, there are skill sets that time and experience have shown you must have in order to be successful. For example, running a business and communicating effectively with potentially complex clients require skills that do not always overlap with "putting things in order."

We suggest that you look at past jobs you've held and determine what organizing skills you used in order to perform the required job duties. These are the same skills needed when organizing professionally. If you're not familiar with the details of running a business, you might want to look into general business courses as well.

Becoming a Professional Organizer can be viewed as an important journey of personal and professional growth, and for the most part, experience will be your guide as you evolve professionally.

BCPO, The Board of Certification for Professional Organizers, in association with NAPO, offers Certification for Professional Organizers. BCPO’s mission is to advance the credibility and ethical standards of the professional organizing industry through credentialing. A Certified Professional Organizer® exemplifies the evolution of professional standards in the organizing and productivity industry.

4. Are there any classes available?

While at present there is no degree program available for organizing, education is provided through NAPO's annual conference and telephone classes, and New York chapter programs and Professional Development Seminars. In addition, educational teleconferences are frequently sponsored by NAPO and the ICD (Institute for Challenging Disorganization, formerly NSGCD).

Some veteran organizers offer customized training programs.

5. How can I improve my organizing skills?

We suggest that you join NAPO and NAPO-NY, and go to NAPO-NY chapter meetings and seminars, and attend the annual NAPO conference. Read as many books as you can on any and all subjects pertaining to organizing. In addition, seminars and workshops are offered by veteran organizers and national education companies.

6. What do clients expect from a Professional Organizer?

Clients expect a Professional Organizer to be competent, to be honest, to be responsible, and to stand behind their work. Perhaps most importantly, they expect an Organizer to maintain confidentiality as emphasized in the NAPO-NY Code of Ethics. It is important for Professional Organizers to discuss expectations with their clients and clearly define the services they can provide.

7. Do I need a business name to start organizing? Do I need to trademark my business name?

No, you do not need a business name to start organizing. If you choose a business name, it is your choice whether or not to trademark. Trademark ownership is a multifaceted issue which you may want to discuss with a professional advisor, such as an attorney.

8. Do I need to incorporate my business?

Organizing businesses range from sole proprietorships to corporations. There are financial and legal implications to your decision, so we suggest that you confer with your professional advisors (lawyer, accountant). You may also want to consult the small business section of your local library or bookstore, and the many resources that are available on the Internet.

9. Is insurance or bonding required?

In general, liability insurance is not required, but depending on what kind of work you plan to do, you may decide it's right for you. Some corporations may ask for an insurance certificate before they hire you. If you're unsure, consult your professional advisors.

10. What kind of organizing specialties are there?

Professional Organizers have a vast array of services and skills they can provide. Organizing areas include business and residential organizing, paper and electronic information management, event planning, relocation assistance, and more. Some Organizers are generalists while others specialize in specific areas.

11. How much should I charge for my services?

Like any other business, what you charge will depend on a variety of factors: what you have invested in your business, your recurring costs, your income or profit objectives, and current market rates for similar services in your area. In addition, it's important to consider what distinguishes your business from your competitors'.

12. Can I do this part-time?  Can I make a living at it?

As in any service profession, there are many variables involved in the success of your business. Your marketing efforts, your skill level, the amount of time you devote to it, and even your geographical area can affect your organizing business. Some Organizers work part-time, others work full-time, and some employ others. Earnings vary widely.

13. Can I work with a Professional Organizer as an intern, apprentice, or assistant?

NAPO-NY members may choose to be included on the Assistants List for a nominal fee. While the Assistants List informs NAPO-NY members that you are interested in working as an assistant; it does not guarantee that you will become an assistant.

14. How do I market my business to find clients?

Tools for marketing your services as an Organizer are the same as those for marketing any service business: advertising, a Yellow Pages listing, a website, a brochure, a business card, direct marketing. There are many books and other resources — such as courses you can take — that will help you build your marketing expertise. And as your reputation grows, word of mouth and referrals will help build your client base.

15. Should I have my clients sign a contract?

Many Organizers use some kind of letter of agreement outlining policies and mutual expectations. Corporate clients may expect a more formal contract. You will have to decide what's right for you.

16. Should I offer a free consultation with a client prior to getting started?

Some Organizers offer a free initial consultation, while others make the initial visit a full working session and charge for a minimum number of hours. In large part, it depends upon the type of organizing you specialize in. With experience, you will discover the approach that's right for you.

17. What will NAPO-NY do for me?

Membership in NAPO-NY offers you educational development and the opportunity to exchange ideas and information with other Organizers, as well as inclusion in the proprietary NAPO-NY client-referral system. See the member benefits section of this site for more details.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of being a NAPO-NY member is the camaraderie and support that members find among like-minded professionals.

18. Can you recommend some books, software, and organizing products?

NAPO-NY does not specifically endorse materials or products. The annual NAPO conference features an exposition of organizing products, and many Organizers recommend books and materials on their individual websites. You may also find helpful materials in the how-to, psychology, self-help, or home sections of your local library or bookstore.

19. When and where is the next NAPO-NY meeting?

NAPO-NY meetings and activities are detailed on the calendar.

20. Is the meeting open to non-members?

The NAPO-NY calendar provides details as to which meetings are open to guests.

21. Do I need to pre-register or RSVP? How do I pay?

For NAPO-NY chapter meetings, you may pay the $25 guest fee at the door or pre-pay from this site using Paypal. You do not need to RSVP in advance.

22. Can I register for a PDS over the phone?

No, registration must be submitted by mail or via the web site. Walk-ins are accepted at a PDS if space is available.

23. Are there NAPO chapters in other cities?

There are over thirty NAPO Chapters throughout the country.