A: The Board of Certification for Professional Organizers® (BCPO®) is the not-for-profit certifying body whose mission is to advance the credibility and ethical standards of the organizing and productivity industry by establishing and maintaining a professional credential by:
A: Yes. BCPO® is the certifying body for experienced Professional Organizers. NAPO is a membership association open to any Professional Organizer or those considering a career in professional organizing.
A: No. The CPO® designation is governed by the BCPO® and is intended for any experienced professional organizer, whether a generalist or specialist. The ICD offers a range of certificates in a variety of sub-specialties and a certification program that focuses primarily on chronic disorganization.
A: BCPO® is an independent affiliate of NAPO, and is governed by its own Bylaws, Code of Ethics, audit, review, and disciplinary policies and procedures.
A: Schroeder Measurement Technologies, Inc. (SMT) is an established full-service international testing company serving the needs of licensing boards and credentialing agencies. SMT's testing products and services are designed to serve clients by using the most appropriate psychometric and technological approaches available. SMT administers the BCPO® examination process and ongoing development of the program.
A: IQT stands for Iso-Quality Testing, Inc., whose mission is to provide secure, user-friendly, high quality, reasonably-priced computerized examination delivery services to credentialing bodies and their candidates at secure and monitored locations around the world. IQT provides the testing facilities used by BCPO® candidates.
A: There is a Standard Application Fee and a discounted fee for members of an IFPOA Member Association. IFPOA (International Federation of Professional Organizers Associations) Member Associations currently include AAPO, ICD, JALO, NAPO, NBPO, and POC.
A: No. Recertification is required every 3 years.
A: You will find the criteria for recertification along with additional FAQs here.
A: While BCPO® Certification is intended for professional organizers with a certain level of experience, we know you have to start somewhere. Many beginning organizers have expanded their knowledge and skills through reading, teleclasses, conferences, networking, and involvement with professional organizer associations. Most community libraries have a variety of pertinent books and resources that cover organizing, as well as topics to help you learn how to develop your business.
Associations such as the National Association of Professional Organizers and other IFPOA member associations offer extensive educational opportunities in the areas of organizing skills and business development at their annual conferences, chapter events and tele-seminars. Individuals may request to be added to NAPO's electronic mailing list to be notified of these educational opportunities.
Classes are offered at community colleges, evening adult schools and national seminars on topics such as organization, productivity and project management, as well as business management classes including accounting, proposal writing, and marketing. Customized training programs and workshops instructing new professional organizers are also offered by veteran professional organizers worldwide.
A: When you apply to sit for the examination, you are attesting to the fact that you have met the eligibility requirements as of the date you submit your application. The "last three years" is defined as three years prior to the date you submit your application. For example, if you submit your application on October 3, 2013, your eligibility requirements must have been met between October 4, 2010 and October 3, 2013.
A: Yes. While 1,250 hours of client-based work in the last three years is mandatory, you can reach the required 1,500 by substituting other activities as outlined in the eligibility requirements.
A: For the purposes of certification, ask yourself if those hours helping your colleagues have met the following three criteria:
A: Eligible hours are those that involve or are the result of collaboration with a client, and may include, but are not limited to the following:
For example, if you spend 4 hours working for a client comprised of 1.5 hours onsite with the client to complete the assessment, 1 hour on the phone with the client developing systems, 1 hour onsite training the client, and a half hour back in your office writing up recommendations, the first three activities add up to eligible work hours, but the half hour in your office does not.
A: No. Certification is intended for active organizing practitioners who have met the published requirements.
A: No. While you are providing a service that might lead to the client being more organized, you are installing the system, not organizing.
A: Time spent on assessment and design of the closet, as well as working with the client to organize and adjust the new system, constitute eligible hours; time spent on installation does not.
A: Time spent in collaboration with the client would be eligible; time spent without client interaction would not. Examples of eligible hours include, but are not limited to, working with a client to pack and store items efficiently, teaching a client to downsize possessions wisely prior to the relocation, and working with a client to develop an action plan for tasks related to the move and relocation.
A: To be eligible for regular work hour credit, speaking would require some client interaction, such as working with clients to develop a customized presentation for their business or organization, or having an interactive exchange in the presentation, such as exercises or Q&A.
A speech that is "one size fits all" (without client collaboration), does not meet the client collaboration requirement, but may be counted for substitute hours.
A: No. Even though your expenses were reimbursed, you were not paid for speaking. If you received any payment in excess of your actual expenses, and the presentation included interaction as outlined in the question and answer above, then it would qualify as regular hours rather than substitute hours.
A: If you are being paid and are interacting with the client, these count as eligible work hours. If you are training without pay, you may claim up to 10 of these hours in the substitute category.
A: If this is being done pro bono, both you and your mentees may claim up to 10 of these hours in the substitute category. If you are being paid by the new organizer, you are likely teaching, transferring and/or demonstrating organizing skills and principles, and these would qualify as work hours.
A: No. While writing a book qualifies you as an author, the hours spent writing do not meet the eligibility requirements with regard to collaborating with the client. This certification is for organizing and productivity practitioners, not a certification for authors. However, you may claim a total of 20 substitute hours per published book, up to a total of 40 hours.
A: A book, even if self-published, must be published with an ISBN to qualify for substitute eligibility hours. While a collection of your articles may prove to be an excellent client gift or marketing tool, it would not qualify.
A: Possibly. As detailed in the eligibility requirements, if you've written an organizing-related article of at least 500 words for use as a blog post, and published it on your blog (or someone else's), it would be worth 10 hours credit per published article/blog post. Note that no matter how often you blog, or how many posts you publish, you may only submit a maximum of 30 hours credit.
A: No. Any professional who meets the eligibility requirements may sit for this examination.
A: Directing the activities of an organization whose purpose is specifically targeted to the organizing profession involves the development and promotion of industry best practices.
A: Probably not. Time spent training other organizers and in speaking engagements as described above would be eligible for substitute hours; however, your eligibility would depend on satisfying all of the other requirements.
A: If an organizer worked for a client who could not afford to pay, or if the organizer chose to lend his/her skills to community service or a charitable institution, the hours spent in client interaction would count towards this substitute category only, and not toward work hours.
A: No. Only volunteer work directly related to organizing is eligible for substitute hours.
A: Prior relevant paid work experience means you performed organizing or productivity duties as a paid employee prior to being paid to work specifically as a professional organizer (as defined above under Work Experience as a Professional Organizer).
These hours must meet the same criteria for teaching, training, transfer or demonstration of organizing skills as described in the Eligibility Requirements.For example, prior to becoming a Professional Organizer, an individual is employed as an office manager for a private company. Duties may have included training staff in organizing and productivity skills. Candidates must be able to substantiate the difference between administrative, clerical, or other aspects of their work experience from relevant organizing experience.
A: Upon audit, a candidate must be prepared to produce a DD Form 214 Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, or equivalent document for the country served.
A: A bachelor's degree is worth 75 substitute hours; an advanced degree is worth 100. However, these substitute hours are not cumulative, so you may apply only the value of the higher degree. In this case, that's a maximum of 100 hours.
A: To determine whether a class/course is eligible, use this checklist: Is this class...
If the class meets all three of these requirements, it is likely to be eligible.
Does the course content provide the potential to improve your clients' situations? Course topics related to starting, building, growing or administering your own business — such as marketing, finding clients, choosing an organizing specialty, exploring different business models, and branding — are not eligible.
These are extremely important courses, and BCPO® highly recommends that you take them in order to improve your business building skills. However, BCPO® certification is for organizing and productivity, so, like all credentials that follow accreditation standards, the CEUs must be related to the certification skill itself — organizing and productivity.
A: Everywhere! For example, the National Association for Professional Organizers (NAPO) has online courses and an annual conference that may contribute to earning your CEUs. For more information, please visit NAPO University. While NAPO and other professional associations offer excellent options for CEU-eligible classes, we strongly encourage you to expand your horizons to also examine the wealth of other resources available — community colleges, university extension programs, other professional organizers, related professionals, online learning websites, and professional societies for related industries.
Base your search on the needs of your clients and the challenges they face. If a segment of your clientele has ADHD, you might look into CHADD (Children and Adults with ADHD/ADD) for conferences and classes at the national and chapter levels, or ADDClasses.com, which offers teleclasses on a wide variety of ADHD-related topics. Professional Organizers who work with seniors might research local hospitals and social service agencies for courses on understanding the physical and mental health impediments faced by older adults.
If you specialize in working with data and records, whether digitally or on paper, in offices, governments, libraries, schools or elsewhere, consult ARMA International (formerly the Association of Records Managers and Administrators) for education on topics related to strategic information and records management. Whatever you clients' needs may be, there are opportunities to learn new languages, new software, new techniques and new philosophies for supporting their advancement.
A: Topics may include, but are in no way limited to:
A: No. Just because a class or conference session is given by an organizing industry association does not necessarily mean that it is eligible. Any class, course, or conference session, no matter who presents it, must meet BCPO's criteria for CEUs in order to be eligible.
For a conference session to be eligible, the session must be at least 60 minutes long and the content must provide skills and/or knowledge enabling you to better serve your clients. Conference sessions on starting, building, growing or administration of your own business are not eligible.
A: Proofs of attendance may include any or all of the following: registration confirmation emails, course handouts and materials, transcripts, and certificates of attendance. Other proof of attendance will be considered.
A: In addition to any of the above verification, a certificate or other document proving attendance/completion is required.
A: No. Non-live courses (e.g., online learning modules or recorded teleclasses/webinars providing proof of attendance/completion), are limited to one-third of your total claimed CEUs. For example, a CPO® candidate claiming 250 CEUs as substitute hours can count only 83 non-live CEUs. A CPO® candidate claiming 60 CEUs as substitute hours can only count 20 non-live CEUs.
A recertifying CPO® needs at least 45 CEUs for recertication, up to 15 of which can be non-live courses. If more than 45 hours are submitted, then-one third of the total hours may be for non-live courses.
A: No. The only recorded sessions that are eligible for CEUs are those that include a way of proving you have listened to and interacted with the entire session, such as recorded teleclasses from the ICD, which include a password to verify attendance. Recorded conference sessions do not offer a way of proving you have listened to the entire session, and also do not offer proof of attendance/completion.
A: Complete the online registration form. When you have completed the registration process, you will receive a User ID and Password that will allow you to schedule your examination online through ISO-Quality Testing, Inc.
A: Computer Based Testing (CBT) examinations for Certified Professional Organizers will be administered from February 1–28, June 1–30, and October 1-31 of each year. If you would like to receive an e-mail newsletter of program and testing updates, use the "What's New" link at the top right of this page to subscribe to the announcements.
A: The examination can be administered at hundreds of locations throughout the world. Testing Centers are provided through the ISO-Quality Testing, Inc.
A: Contact email@example.com. They will work with you to find a suitable location.
A: No, but it is highly recommended that all applicants prepare such documentation prior to submission of the application. Keep it accessible in case of an audit, but DO NOT SUBMIT DOCUMENTATION WITH YOUR APPLICATION.
A: Yes, but you must notify ISO-Quality Testing, Inc. at least five (5) calendar days prior to your scheduled exam date. You will be required to pay a rescheduling fee (currently $100, but the amount is subject to change by IQT) to process your request. Please refer to section 7 of the CPO exam application for BCPO’s cancellations, refunds, exam retakes and copyright/confidentiality policies.
A: The major topics covered on the CPO® examination are:
A detailed breakdown of the Examination Content Outline can be found on this site.
A: Whether you studied from the previous outline or the current one, all of the elements on the examination have been represented.
We believe the new Content Outline does a better job explaining the subject matter covered on the CPO® examination, more accurately reflects current industry best practices, and will make it even easier for you to study and prepare.
BCPO® bases the CPO® examination content on a Job Task Analysis conducted by Subject Matter Experts. This well-researched analysis improves BCPO®'s ability to empirically define the essential core competencies required for the successful practice of professional organizing. The new Content Outline refines the descriptions of those core competencies.
Think of the revised Content Outline as a clarification rather than a rewrite, one that clearly breaks down all of the key areas of professional organizing as it is currently practiced.
A: The examination consists of 125 multiple-choice questions. Each question has four possible responses. You will be allowed exactly two hours to complete the examination, which is given in English via computer at secure facilities around the world.
A: You are not required to read all of the books listed on the Suggested Reference Sources list. It is just that, suggested materials. The list is not intended to be all-inclusive, nor does it represent the only references that can be effective as study material. References like those on the list, combined with information gained through practical experience, are used to develop the examination questions.
You may have resources that are not on this list which adequately cover the content of the exam. You are encouraged to supplement your education and experience by reviewing other resources and finding information in areas of the Content Outline in which you may consider yourself less skilled or experienced.
A: There are books and courses which may be specifically designed to prepare candidates for the CPO® exam, such as NAPO's PO-405W: Preparing for the BCPO® Certified Professional Organizer® Exam. In order to stay compliant with accreditation standards, BCPO® may not endorse any particular books or courses, nor are they required as part of your preparation.
Your preparation might include a self-study reading program, participation in academic and non-credit courses, workshops, teleclasses, study groups, book clubs, or professional meetings.
A: The examination is administered via Computer-Based Testing (CBT). Candidates answer multiple choice questions via computer and in most cases receive the preliminary pass/fail results immediately after completion of the examination.
A: Not at this time. However, it may be possible if special accommodations are required. The BCPO® examination is ADA compliant.
A: No. The CPO® examination must be taken in a secure testing environment. The presence of an authorized proctor is necessary to initiate the examination and monitor the examination process.
A: No. The examination is in a format that is very easy to use. You will have an opportunity at the test center to complete a five-minute computer tutorial prior to starting your actual examination.
A: You must bring your Examination Admission letter and a government-issued photo ID.
You will receive an email with your Examination Admission letter once you have successfully scheduled your examination online. The admission letter provides a special code needed to access your examination, along with detailed information regarding the testing process. This includes the center location, test site policies, what to bring and when to arrive.
Temperatures may vary at the test site, so dress in order to be most comfortable should there be extreme heat or air-conditioning.
A: You are not allowed to bring the following into the test area:
You are encouraged to leave any unnecessary personal items at home or locked in your vehicle. Please note that only candidates and proctors are allowed in the testing area.
A: Immediately contact the proctor who will work with ISO-Quality Testing, Inc. personnel to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. You will still have a full two hours to complete the examination. In the event of a power outage, the completed portion of your examination will be saved; when the power returns, you will be able to pick up where you left off.
A: Yes. You may bookmark a question and return to it at any time during the two-hour testing period. Be sure to answer all questions, as only answered questions are scored.
A: Yes. You can bookmark, review and change any of your answers.
A: Yes. Scratch paper is provided at the test center. The scratch paper will be destroyed after you have completed your examination.
A: You will have two hours to complete the examination. The timer begins once you complete the tutorial.
A: Yes. All testing centers are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or equivalent regulations when administered in other countries.
A: In most cases, the proctor will give you your preliminary pass/fail result at the testing center once you have completed your exam. Even with a pass result, the CPO® designation is not official until you receive your CPO® notification and certificate in the mail.
A: You will receive a preliminary pass/fail result. As a matter of BCPO® policy and good testing practice, candidates are not issued numeric scores in order to (a) be in compliance with testing industry guidelines, and (b) to protect candidates from those who could misinterpret the meaning of the numeric scores.
The BCPO® examinations are referred to as "high stakes examinations." As such, they are constructed using a criteria-referenced test design, which is not intended to compare candidates' performance against that of other candidates, but rather compares each candidate's performance against an absolute set of criteria. For example, an employer may erroneously assume a candidate with a score of 850 is more competent than a candidate with a score of 750. Properly constructed certification or licensing exams are not able to make such a distinction. It can only accurately be stated that both candidates possess the minimum competencies necessary to hold the credential.
Because the number of questions required to pass the examination may be different for each version, the scores are converted to a reporting scale to ensure a common standard. This common standard will change with each version.
Candidates who do not pass the examination are provided with a diagnostic summary of the relative strengths and weaknesses of their performance on the examination. Should they wish to retake the examination, this summary will help them to assess where to focus future study.
A: Consistent with certification standards, it is BCPO® policy to audit a set percentage of candidate examination applications. These audits will take place approximately three weeks after the examination. If you have not been randomly selected for audit, you will receive your CPO® notification and certificate in the mail. At that time, you may refer to yourself as a Certified Professional Organizer®. If you have been selected for audit, you must follow the procedures outlined in the audit process.
A: Yes. The process to re-take the examination is the same as the initial application. There is no limit to the number of times candidates may take the examination, provided that all the eligibility requirements in effect at the time of application for re-examination have been met.
A: Yes. Candidates must complete all required application forms, pay the appropriate examination fees, and schedule another examination appointment within this or any examination window.
A: Yes. You will have to pay the current application fee at the time of your new application.
A: The selection is a purely random, computer-generated process.
A: Facilitated by impartial staff, the Audit Committee consists of Certified Professional Organizers, qualified subject matter experts with a full understanding of the organizing profession and a commitment to the confidential nature of the auditing process. In the event that there is a conflict of interest between the candidate being audited and a member of the committee, that committee member will abstain from participating in the audit.
A: You will receive comprehensive instructions via your email address on record and by USPS surface mail. If audited, you will need to provide proof of your work hours and any substitute hours, as claimed on your application.
A: When you submit your application to sit for the examination, you are making assertions as to eligible work hours, substitute hours, and other eligibility criteria. In an audit you will need to provide proof that your were honest in those assertions. It is advisable to keep those records on file as you prepare your application, so the documentation will be easy to provide in case of audit.
The Audit Committee will need to review basic information regarding the dates and hours you worked with which clients, as well as the type(s) of organizing work performed. For substitute hours, indicate the dates and hours and specific activity. Remember that each substitute hour category has a maximum number of hours allowed.
You may use these or similar spreadsheets, copies of invoices or contracts, or generate reports from accounting or time-keeping software. If you keep your client appointments in a calendar or track them in a spreadsheet, you could provide a log of hours worked. It would be to your advantage to provide documentation for hours worked or substitute hours earned IN EXCESS of the minimum requirements. For example, if you can provide documentation for 1800 hours and 300 hours are deemed ineligible in an audit, you will still have met the eligibility requirements.
All information provided for an audit will be kept in strict confidence.
A: If you are audited, you will be required to provide three client references who may be contacted by the auditors. Should a representative from the Audit Committee contact the reference, it will be explained that the audit is routine and random. All information collected for the audit process remains strictly confidential and is not used for any other purpose.
A: Yes, detailed guidelines for using the logo are outlined here. Remember, you may not refer to yourself as a Certified Professional Organizer® or use the logo in any way until you have received your official CPO® notification and certificate in the mail.
A: By using the logo, you indicate your acceptance of the terms in the agreement (executed upon applying to sit for the examination) and the logo use guidelines, that you have met the criteria to be a CPO®, and that you have maintained your certification obligations.
If you do not adhere to the terms agreed to in your BCPO® Examination Application Agreement or your certification expires or is terminated, you must immediately discontinue use of the logo and credential after your name. All Rights of Use of the BCPO® and CPO® logos are available here.
A: If you observe that the BCPO® or CPO® logo is being used by someone who is not a CPO®, or is being used improperly in any way, please submit all relevant details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A: BCPO® takes these matters very seriously. Review the Ethics Complaint Procedure carefully and act accordingly.
Helene Segura, CPO®
Keep abreast of all BCPO news regarding events and testing information.