What is a Certified Professional Organizer?

Also known as: Organizer, Professional Organizer, Clutter Space Consultant, Space Consultant.

A certified professional organizer (CPO) is someone who receives pay for organizing cluttered living spaces or work environments and has received certification in the field. Usually working as independent contractors, these organizers use their experience and knowledge combined with tested principles, to create spaces and organizational systems that promote efficiency and give clients more time to enjoy their lives. Certified professional organizers also act as coaches to their clients, offering tips and instructing them in proper methods for organizing things.

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What does a Certified Professional Organizer do?

Certified professional organizers work with clients to enhance their lives by developing custom organizing systems and teaching organizational skills. Clients often have busy schedules and quickly become frustrated by their own lack of organization. Professional organizers assist in these situations by taking control of the chaos in the client's life and allowing them to more effectively manage their time, paperwork or closet clutter.

Certified professional organizers also work with businesses. In a commercial setting, professional organizers are responsible for the overall efficiency of the office or other work environment. A well-designed plan from a good organizer can save a business a substantial amount of revenue. Professional organizers plan everything; from more efficient handling of paperwork, to time management for individual employees, and room-by-room work flow designs.

How to become a Certified Professional Organizer

Candidates for a position as a certified professional organizer must possess a high school diploma or equivalent. Good communication skills and a passion and aptitude for organization is also necessary.

Most importantly, however, candidates must receive formal certification through the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers (BCPO). The board is affiliated with the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and maintains a goal of advancing ethical standards in the professional organizer industry. The BCPO is part of the National Association of Professional Organizers' broader mission of developing future professional organizers and promoting the organizing industry.

Candidates interested in BCPO certification must sign the code of ethics for certified professional organizers as part of the application process. They must also provide proof of 1,500 or more hours of paid work experience in the field of organization. Organizers are not qualified to sit for the BCPO exam until these hours are complete.

The hours must consist of approved job tasks such as virtual organizing, on-site organizing, coaching clients in organizational skills and being involved in organization workshops. BCPO will allow up to 100 hours for those who have a college degree or continuing education credits related to the field. Another 150 hours can come from writing articles and various other endeavours considered valid preparation for a career in professional organization.

Professional organizers aren't required to submit proof of these hours unless, after successfully completing the exam, they are randomly selected for a post-exam audit. In the audit, they are required to verify their hours. They must demonstrate organization, efficiency and documentation that supports their time involvement in the field. The BCPO performs these audits to ensure the integrity of their high quality standards.

In addition to passing the initial exam, certified professional organizers must become re-certified once every three years. They must submit an annual maintenance fee, sign a new code of ethics document, and submit proof of completing at least 45 hours of continuing education directly related to the field of professional organizing. Some certified professional organizers also become certified through the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD), which offers a more in-depth four-level course.

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