You’ve decided to become a professional organizer and you want to do it the *right* way. You’ve heard whispers of certification programs. Some are pricey. Some are free. Should you get your professional organizer certification? Do you need it to run a successful professional organizing business?
How Professional Organizer Certification Works
Becoming a “Certified Professional Organizer” may look different depending on your path to certification. There are multiple companies and associations that offer certifications. Assuming you pick a well-known and reputable organization, such as NAPO or POC, through which to pursue your certification, here’s what your path may look like:
- Join a professional organizing association
- Take specific recommended classes
- Spend a certain number of hours organizing professionally (NAPO requires 1500 hours in a 5-year period)
- Apply to be tested
- Complete the test (and pass)
- Pay an annual fee to maintain your certification
As long as you pass the test, your certification lasts 5 years. After that time has passed, you can renew your certification by taking additional Continuing Education Credits or by retesting.
While there are likely less rigorous professional organizer certification programs, NAPO is an accredited organization and one of the most established.
How Much Does Professional Organizer Certification Cost?
If you were to complete the Professional Organizer Certification path laid out above by NAPO, just how much would it cost?
- NAPO Membership: $319/year (multiplied by as many years as it takes to work within your industry to achieve the hourly requirements, plus as long as you’d like your certification to remain active)
- NAPO Classes: $325 (if completed within one year)
- Test Registration: $450
- Annual Maintenance Fee: $100/year
Assuming you joined NAPO, took the classes, fulfilled the hourly requirements, and took and passed the test all within one year, the absolute MINIMUM it would cost you to get certified would be $1074. It would then cost an additional $399 per year for the next 4 years until you had to take more classes or retest.
So, in five years, you would spend $2670, plus classes or testing.
POC Membership is $320, so almost the same price. Their website did not include information on a certification. It mentions an exam, but doesn’t include pricing details.
It’s a LOT. But is it worth it?
Benefits of Becoming A Certified Professional Organizer
According to the NAPO Board Certification Professional Handbook, benefits of becoming certified include:
- Proving your professionalism
- Demonstrating knowledge of your industry
- Personal satisfaction
- Dedication to the industry
And a few more bullets that relate to impressing clients.
If those points are interesting to you, maybe certification is the right path. If you don’t need to prove your dedication and credibility, maybe it’s not.
Is Professional Organizer Certification Worth It?
Here’s the thing. Both Krystee and Melissa have been working within the professional organizing industry in Canada and America for a combined 8 years. Would you like to guess how many times they have been asked if they are “Certified Professional Organizers”?
Why Clients Don’t Ask About Your Certification Status
So why have neither Krystee nor Melissa been asked about their certification?
First, it’s probably mostly because average people don’t know there are professional organizer organizations or certifications. If they don’t know these things exist, of course they wouldn’t know to ask about them. Perhaps that could change with the growth the professional organizing industry is experiencing.
Second, most times, clients find professional organizer through social media or through friends, both of which communicate to the client how capable the organizer is. When you’re confident that you’re hiring someone professional and capable, you rarely ask them about their experience and education.
Does Certification Matter?
In an industry where you can just decide to call yourself a professional organizer, it may seem like the certification DOES matter, that clients will care, and that you can charge more money for your services, but we aren’t convinced it does.
In doing research for this article, I looked up statistics on the phrase “free professional organizer certification.” Sometimes the word “online” was added to the end of the search phrase. Hundreds of people Google this a week. A week.
Now, let me ask you this — what value is there in something people can get online for free?
Additionally, NAPO is an “accredited” organization that offers a certification, but how many other organizations are unaccredited but still giving out certifications? And if clients rarely ask about certification, do you think you’ll EVER get a question about the quality of the organization who provided you with a certification?
As you may have guessed, Krystee and Melissa are not “certified” professional organizers — nor do they have any plans to become certified. While they’re both capable of meeting the criteria needed to become certified, neither feels that getting certified would have any benefit for their businesses.
While Professional Organizer Certification isn’t a path Krystee or Melissa currently plan on taking, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If getting certified as an organizer is something that’s always been a goal of yours, then you should definitely work toward it!
If you’re undecided on this topic, that’s okay, too! There are many other ways you can level up your organizing business while you decide. And if the 1500 organizing hours seem insurmountable with your shortage of clients, try doing some of these tasks while you wait for those phone calls.