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How to Become a Professional Organizer

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You might have once thought that keeping your closet tidy and your office neat as a pin was a talent only you could enjoy -- but as it turns out, a lot of people are not as gifted as you in keeping their lives organized, and are willing to hire someone to help. The National Association for Professional Organizers had more than 4,000 members as of 2014, many of them working full or part-time as organizers for clients nationwide. To get started in this career, pursue training and certification, and then take steps to launch your business.

Skills Needed for the Business

As a professional organizer you'll naturally need to be good at organization and have a good grasp of the tools that can help people stay organized. For businesses, that can include knowing how to use spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Office. For home and office organization, you should also be creative and able to find novel solutions for fitting materials into tight spaces. Having some carpentry skills, for example, could help you build shelves or rehab a closet. You should be able to establish a good rapport with people and have computer and financial management skills to help you market yourself and maintain good records.

Training to Pursue

While you won't need a specific degree or training to get started, there are training programs out there that can help you learn the industry. Check out the National Association for Professional Organizers' in-house training courses, or the classes offered by the Institute for Challenging Organization, Clear & Simple, or the Institute for Professional Organizers. Courses include in-person as well as online and telephone-based classes. In them, you'll learn valuable information about how to put systems in place for clients and tools to use. You'll also earn a certificate that can help you gain credibility among clients.

Experience and Associations

Attending a course for organizers can put you in contact with people in the industry, who can be invaluable mentors as you start your business. If you don't find a mentor in school, reach out to other experienced organizers you find online. Ask about doing a job shadowing experience or even interning for a short period of time. Also join the National Association for Professional Organizers and take part in conferences by NAPO or the Institute for Professional Organizers to get help creating a business plan. That networking can also help you learn about trends in the industry.

Get the Word Out

As a new business owner, your success or failure can depend on how much time you put in and how well you market yourself. Create a website or blog that details your services and promote your posts on social media. Gain clients by offering to organize the homes or offices of your family or friends in exchange for referrals. Save some money in start-up costs by offering to trade services with other business owners. For example, trade services with the local print shop to get free printing and copying. Since you're just starting out, price your services slightly lower than any competition in your area. While the salaries of professional organizers are not widely known, Sara Pedersen, owner of Minnesota's Time to Organize, recommends new organizers charge between $35 and $50 per hour. The rates nationally, according to Pedersen, are between $40 and $200 per hour.

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About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

Photo Credits

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