Are you interested in becoming a professional organizer? Maybe you were born to organize and are looking for a way to make money doing what you love. Maybe you’ve read about professional organizers in a magazine or seen them featured on a TV show and thought, “Hey, I could do that!”
However you learned about this relatively new but fast-growing profession, there are a few things you need to know before you hang out your shingle.
First of all, anyone can call herself or himself a professional organizer. You don’t have to have specific training or join a professional association – although both are recommended, and I’ll get into that in more detail in a moment. But please keep this in mind:
You also need skills in:
- Interviewing clients to assess their needs and determine whether you’re a good fit
- Customizing organizing strategies to meet the needs, personalities and budgets of each client
- Sales and marketing to keep your schedule as full as you need it to be to achieve your desired income
- Business management to make decisions that will lead you towards success
- Administrative functions to keep your business running efficiently
Although you can pay others to handle certain aspects of your organizing business, you’ll have to ensure that you can cover that investment and still remain profitable, so until you have sufficient income to justify it, you’ll need at least a basic knowledge of each area.
Getting involved with a professional association is an excellent way to acquire that knowledge, both through formal education and by networking with other organizers. There are several associations for professional organizers around the world, but since most of my readers are located in North America, today I will focus on Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) and the US-based National Association for Professional Organizers (NAPO).
If you’re Canadian, your best starting point is POC’s Should I Become an Organizer? teleclass. This is a one-hour session where you can ask questions and get information from a veteran organizer. Check the POC Education & Events Calendar to find out when it’s being offered and sign up.
I suggest you also attend a chapter meeting, where you’ll have an opportunity to meet with members who have already established an organizing business, as well as others who are considering it, and get a good feel for what it is all about.
Other educational opportunities available through POC include:
- POC Trained Professional Organizer Program (via teleclass)
- Launch Your Business Comprehensive Training Program (two-day in-person live seminar)
- Continuing Education through teleclasses and pre-recorded webinars
- Annual Conference held in the fall
All of the above are open to non-members, but if you’re a Canadian professional organizer, I highly recommend that you join so you can take advantage of the other member benefits.
NAPO also has a strong educational program for professional organizers. Their curriculum consists of live online classes for beginning, intermediate, and advanced organizers, as well as some that are suitable for organizers at any experience level. Some classes are available as pre-recorded webinars.
NAPO holds an Annual Conference & Organizing Expo every spring. Recordings of some conference sessions are also available, but I encourage you to attend if you can, because there’s nothing like the full conference experience.
Conference attendance may be cost-prohibitive if you’re not yet earning an income from your organizing business, but I’ve met many people whose attendance at a POC Conference was their first experience with the industry, and they decided to join before they even got home.
Please note that you don’t need to be a member to attend either POC or NAPO Conferences, but members pay a lower registration fee.
Although NAPO is based in the US and POC is based in Canada, both associations welcome members from anywhere in the world. Whatever association you join, make sure you get involved at the Chapter level as well as locally, as the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. If there’s no chapter in your area, you can participate in the NAPO Virtual Chapter or POC Cyber Chapter, but you’ll also benefit from joining or forming a networking group for local colleagues.
NAPO and POC are both excellent organizations for professional development and networking, but they’re not your only options. Come back next week to learn about international and specialty associations, as well as other sources of professional organizer training.
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