Why training and credentials matter
I just earned a credential I’m really proud of. I’m now a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, a certification conferred by the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganizaton.
The CPO-CD® program requires an investment on the part of the organizer of over $2500 and 150 hours of coursework, reading and service. I started the program in January 2008 and finished it by passing my peer review (an hour-long interview with panel of four people who have been through the program) on October 1, 2009. That’s 20 months of learning and thinking about the chronically disorganized.
During those 20 months I had 18 mentoring sessions with my assigned coach, the wonderful Margaret Pearson-Pinkham. The information, coaching and guidance she provided—all under a carefully constructed program of learning—was invaluable. It’s hard to imagine how I could have gotten training of that caliber elsewhere.
According to the NSGCD’s website, “The purpose of the NSGCD CPO-CD® program is to develop a Professional Organizer’s skills and knowledge by utilizing a coaching style relationship. This program allows the intermediate and advanced Professional Organizer an environment and forum to discuss client issues, problems and challenges. Participation in the CPO-CD® program develops honesty, trust and improves an organizer’s communication skills. The CPO-CD® program is specifically geared to improve the quality of service, techniques and knowledge a Professional Organizer provides to their chronically disorganized clients.”
Can you see why I’m so proud of the credential?
I’m also a Certified Professional Organizer®, a credential conferred by the Board of Certification of Professional Organizers. In order to attain this certification, I had to qualify to sit for the written exam by having completed either 1500 hours of paid work experience in the last three years, or, alternatively, 1250 hours plus 250 hours of training. Then I had to take and pass the exam. I’m thrilled to have earned this credential as well.
Why do I bother taking training and sitting for exams? Because I think they matter. I’ve learned so much through my NSGCD training. I also learned a great deal studying for the CPO® exam. That knowledge helps me help my clients.
Becoming a professional organizer doesn’t require a degree or any training. Many organizers serve their clients well using their natural abilities unsupplemented by training or education. But when you hire a professional who has made the commitment to her profession and her clients by investing in training and certification programs — particularly if you’re chronically disorganized — you can be more confident that you’ll be working with someone who is equipped to provide the individualized help you need.
I’m one of only 60 CPO-CDs. I’m the only one in the St. Louis area. There are about 300 CPOs, two of whom live in the St. Louis area. I don’t know how many have both credentials. Those of us who have made the commitment of time and money to get certified (which is purely voluntary in our industry), may charge more than others. I believe that paying more for more qualified organizers can be a smart decision.
Certainly, there is plenty of training available beyond that offered by NSGCD. I’ve taken some, as have many other organizers. I think it’s important for my own professional development to keep learning. And, in fact, I’m required to in order to stay certified — both CPOs and CPO-CDs must be recertified every three years.
Incidentally, Geralin Thomas, CPO-CD® (one of the expert organizers on A&E TV’s Hoarders television series) has an excellent blog post that explains the differences between the two PO certifications, particularly as it applies to working with hoarders. If you’re looking for more information, I urge you to check it out.