Become a Professional Organizer
Our NAPO-WDC chapter receives a lot of inquiries about starting a Professional Organizing business. Here is some helpful info to get you started.
First, join the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals! NAPO is the Organizing Authority, and your first step on the road to becoming a professional organizer.
NAPO requires each new Provisional member to complete three Professional Practices courses. These courses offered by NAPO are designed to establish a basic knowledge of professional practices for Organizing and Productivity Professionals, and to provide a path to Professional Member status.
The three courses are:
Provisional Members must successfully complete all three courses to advance to Professional Member status.
To learn more about getting started as an Organizing or Productivity Professional, read this document.
To view pricing and register for the Professional Practices Courses On-Demand.
We also recommend you check out the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. ICD offers unparalleled educational opportunities for professional organizers and related professionals to learn about helping individuals challenged by chronic disorganization.
Some recommended "starter" books:
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
Born to Organize by Sara Pedersen
See a list of veteran NAPO-WDC organizers who are available for coaching new members.
To apply to be a member of the NAPO-WDC Chapter, please click here.
Q: Do I need to be a CPO® (Certified Professional Organizer) in order to start organizing as a business?
A: No. In fact, you need to have years of experience and training in order to become a CPO.
Q: Do I need to be a member of NAPO in order to start organizing as a business?
A: No, but it is highly recommended. NAPO offers extensive training and education, camaraderie in a field that is often isolated, support, credibility to prospective clients, and, in a local chapter, all of the above plus regular contact with other professionals that can be invaluable as you grow your business.
Q: Can I try out a NAPO-WDC meeting if I’m not sure about starting my business?
A: Yes, guests can attend our monthly meetings for a $25 guest fee payable when you register online or in person by cash or check. No pre-registration is required. Some chapter meetings are for members only, and this is noted on its Event page. There are no meetings in July and August.
Q: Do I need to be a member of NAPO National before joining NAPO-WDC?
Q: What sorts of things do I need to get started?
A: While we are not accountants, lawyers or the like, starting this business is like any other. You want to be sure you are covered legally and financially. Determine your business structure (LLC, sole proprietor, etc), get insurance, file all paperwork with your city/county/state, keep good bookkeeping records and file your taxes properly. Treat this like any other business – in a professional manner.
NAPO National and local chapter membership is also highly recommended.
Q: Do all Professional Organizers do the same thing? What kinds of ways can you organize?
A: Most organizers start out in the residential arena (decluttering and organizing closets, pantries, garages, etc.) but there’s so much more than this. We encourage potential organizers to explore their own background and use this when looking at what direction they’d like to explore. Organizers do so much more than sort, purge and containerize. We can assist clients with home office organization, time management, corporate efficiency, specialized components such as photos or coupons, blogging/books/lectures, virtual organizing, working with hoarding or chronically disorganized clients, and more. Organizing flows over so many parts of our lives both in our homes and our businesses that the sky is the limit when it comes to what you can do in this profession.
Q: Do Professional Organizers work alone or with others?
A: Some work in teams, some don’t. There are a lot of business models out there, though many organizers begin either as a sole proprietor or working for another organizer.
Q: Are there any rules or guidelines for Professional Organizers?
A: Organizers tend to be pretty independent minded, however they are asked to follow NAPO’s Code of Ethics which has been established by the National Association of Professional Organizers as guidelines for how to act and conduct business in a forthright, honest manner with our clients and other Industry Members. Creating your own business focus and methodology stems from training, experience and education.
Q: Should I contact area organizers and ask them questions?
A: Please keep in mind that we are all small business owners that also have busy family and social lives. We are a generally giving group of people. Be mindful of the time you take up asking questions (be prepared with your specific questions) and do consider offering to pay for an organizer's time. It will probably be the best money you can spend.