Seven of my colleagues and I contributed to this blog post. And as much as it is a GREAT launching point for "how-to," it's also a persuasive set of arguments for why someone needs to hire a professional... Lost count of how many times we mention National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals and strongly urge people to join our local chapters, including my NAPO Seattle Area Chapter. Just sayin'
How to Become a Professional Organizer, UpJourney, The Editors, July 22, 2019 https://upjourney.com/how-to-become-a-professional-organizer
Are you interested in becoming a professional organizer?
Here are the things you need to know, according to experts:
Certified Professional Organizer | Owner, Casual Uncluttering, LLC
National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals
Visit the nearest local chapter you can, before you even have a business name. The connections and resources you’ll get from NAPO membership will be invaluable to you over the lifetime of your business.
You’ll be joining an organization that is designed to support everyone from brand-new business owner to person-retired-with-honors who simply wants to maintain enduring friendships.
For example, for the brand-new organizer, there are safety courses – yes, safety, physical, professional, and emotional, are very real considerations in this business. For the retirees, there are still our yearly conferences. For established entrepreneurs, there are benefits ranging from referral prospects to public relations opportunities.
Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD)
If I had something to “do-over,” I’d join the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) much sooner than I did. ICD offers courses for those Organizers who want to specialize in more challenging cases, for example working with people with severe ADD or brain injuries.
I find the materials fascinating, and I think that they are worthwhile for any Organizer regardless of his/her particular preferences vis-a-vis clientele and/or projects.
Read books and take additional intensive training
I took intensive training with Anne Blumer, Institute for Professional Organizers, and with Professional Organizers in Canada (the Canadian equivalent of NAPO) before I started working with clients.
Those classes gave me the confidence I needed to begin taking on clients, because I knew I had a baseline of knowledge such that it was unlikely I would be doing active harm to my clients (yes, another aspect of Professional Organizing which is significant).
I absolutely made beginner mistakes, but nothing irreversible! There are several such foundational programs, but I’m not as familiar with them.
At an absolute minimum, I suggest that people read Anne Blumer’s Mastering the Business of Organizing and Sara Pedersen’s Born to Organize. I only found Ms. Pedersen’s book a few years after I launched and wished I found it much sooner because it is a clever and thorough guide to every detail of having an organizing business. Anne’s book is only a few months old, an excellent no-nonsense how-to manual.
I have a copy on my nightstand, and I’m working my way through implementing all of her relevant suggestions a couple at a time a month. Some have undeniably made an impact on my bottom line within days.
Organizing Coach, Your Organized Life
Becoming a professional organizer is a calling, a mission, an opportunity to serve. Most of us come from support and teaching professions because we desire to see others succeed and excel and we need the teaching and the coaching skills to make that happen.
Liking to organize, solve puzzles and create calm out of chaos also helps! Most organizers start with helping family and friends – we enjoy digging into organizing projects and have a way of seeing “the forest through the trees” that the client, who’s been living in the midst of the disorganization and clutter, cannot.
Indulge in books
There are a couple of books that I think really set a great foundation for new organizers. Julie Morgenstern’s Organizing from the Inside Out and Dawn Noble’s How to Start a Home-based Professional Organizing Business.
Organizing from the Inside Out provides a framework on how to view any organizing project while Dawn’s book, while a bit dated, gives excellent advice on the steps to create the business: what you need in a work bag, how to set up your company, how to track your expenses, forms to use with clients, etc.
The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals offers great coursework on the many different segments of organizing so that organizers can hone their skills and gain further accreditation if they choose.
NAPO also sponsors a yearly conference that attracts organizers from around the world to share information, network and grow themselves and their companies.
In addition, there are many local cities, state and regional NAPO chapters which allow organizers to meet and network on a more frequents basis. As in many professions, there’s no substitute for doing the work and learning on the job so take any opportunity (working with a seasoned organizer, as an intern, with family and friends) to gain experience – it’s that experience and knowledge that we bring to the next client and the next…
Founder, Katy’s Organized Home
Here are some ways to become a professional organizer:
Join NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing)
Sign up for your local chapter and attend meetings. Take their classes. They even offer certifications.
Assist other professional organizers for experience
This is to make sure that this is what you actually want to do. It’s not an easy job. Before and After pictures online can make the job look glamorous, but it involved climbing in attics filled with dust, working in garages, dealing with mountains of paperwork while remaining positive and energetic.
Do you have a lot of physical energy?
The job is very physical. You are always on your feet and usually running up and downstairs, hustling to container store and back and carrying large bins everywhere.
Do you have a lot of emotional energy?
Are you patient and compassionate, yet able to convince someone who feels stuck or in a rut to make a huge change?
Do a lot of organizing
Organize your house top to bottom and organize for your friends.
Dr. Dewan Farhana
Co-founder and CEO, Betternest
Empathy and love for organization
The key to becoming a professional organizer is to love the art of organization, having empathy and being naturally talented at decluttering. What would take most people hours to complete and feel overwhelmed, makes an organizer feel energized.
This takes the ability to declutter in a short time, think strategically and understand how to transform a space from chaos to proper functionally and aesthetics. From there, it’s important to share your gift and build a clientele who love your valuable services and refer you to family and friends.
Join organizations, platforms, or other services
As of now, there are no professional certifications or exams by law that is required to become a professional organizer outside of independent business owner laws, however, there are national organizations that you can be a part of such as NAPO, or join platform and software services such as Betternest to list your services, reach new clients and be a part of the organization community.
Founder & CEO, One Organized Mama
The journey to creating your dream job as a professional organizer may not be quite what you think. It’s a common misconception that professional organizers are “neat-freaks” with OCD tendencies.
The truth of the matter is while most successful organizers appreciate the joy that an orderly space brings to one’s life being a perfectionist will only hamper your career in the industry.
When exploring whether this profession is the right fit for you to consider these key qualities which are what I look for when bringing professional organizers to my team:
- A strong desire to help others
- Willingness to work as a team
- In good physical shape as the job can be physically strenuous
- A problem-solver
- Understanding the importance of implementing systems to overcome organizing challenges
The professional organization industry has exploded over the past few years and quite frankly all it takes is to call yourself a “professional organizer” in order to start your career as one. When I began my career in 2012 there was limited information available to me. Here are a few tips I share with those interested in starting a professional organizing career:
Research as much as you can about the industry
Read books, blogs, and interview organizers out of your area as local ones often see you as potential competition.
Say “yes” to every job offered
This is to gain experience as well as build your self-confidence and portfolio.
Whether it’s a national group, a local entrepreneur network it’s important to have support for yourself and business. This was difficult to do so I created my own support system which has now become my full-time business, Professional Organization Industry Standard of Excellence also known as POISE.
Founder & CEO, Assistant Pro
Organizing is simply the process of properly defining a permanent place for useful items in your life. While this is the essence of the job, being decisive in the purging process is imperative.
We certainly don’t want to waste time organizing items that are of no use. Therefore, making firm- on the spot decisions on what to keep and what to toss (and coaching our clients to do the same), is most effective.
Being insightful is important because once all items are purged and sorted, it will have to be determined how they are used and how often they are used. This will help with their permanent placement.
For example: placing cooking utensils together is important, but they are useless if they are not near the stove where the food is prepared.
Evaluating workflows is a great practice to troubleshoot areas in which insight is not so obvious. While keeping items sorted and together are ideal, if they are placed in an area that doesn’t make the most sense, the organizing session will have not been useful.
Owner & CEO, Organize2Harmonize
Join credible organizations
If you are serious about your business, you should first join the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. They offer lots of education so that one can learn to do things the right way.
There are other organizations that offer lots of training as well depending on the type of clients you wish to work with. One such organization is the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.
I started Let’s Get You Organized in 2011 armed with a stack of cheap VistaPrint business cards, a Blogspot page, a free Craigslist ad, and a fire in my heart to help people get organized.
Don’t be afraid to start small
Growing up in a hoarding household, I quickly became dubbed the “OCD, clean freak” of my family. I decided to start monetizing that OCD diagnosis in 2011 with the launch of my professional organizing side hustle. My reason was to help people like my dad get the help they need to downsize, declutter, and start to live a life of minimalism.
I organized the homes of friends and family, and random Craigslist clients that wanted me to clean out their garages and pantries for $10 per hour. I took before & after photos on my cell phone and loaded the results to my Blogspot page.
I passed out my business cards at coffee shops and bookstores and kept my side hustle to just the weekends while I worked in corporate Sales, Recruiting, and HR.
Finally, when I’d had enough of the corporate life and I wanted to really start monetizing the side hustle. I took a day off of work, created an upgraded my website and ordered new cards with my updated information.
I finally legitimized my business by setting up my contracts, invoicing, insurance, banking, and taxes in January 2018.