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 professional organizing industry through credentialing. BCPO®'s charter is to increase the professionalism of the organizing industry 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 professional organizer, whether a generalist or specialist. The ICD offers a range of certificates and a certification program that focuses primarily on chronic disorganization.
A: BCPO® is an independent division 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 with a wide range of test development and computer-based administration services at testing centers across North America. SMT's testing products and services are the finest available and are designed to serve SMT's 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.
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, NAPO, NBPO, ICD 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. NAPO members can 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 getting organized, clearing clutter, and time 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 submit your application, you are attesting to the fact that you have met the eligibility requirements at that time. 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, 2012, your eligibility requirements must have been met between October 4, 2009 and October 3, 2012.
After the initial year of certification, your anniversary date will be the first of the month following your initial certification. In the example above, for all subsequent years, it would be November 1.
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 published.
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:
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 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 (i.e. packing) 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 purge items 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 covered, you were not paid for speaking. If you were paid a fee of any amount unrelated to expense reimbursement, it would count.
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: Both you and your mentees may claim up to 10 of these hours in the substitute category.
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. 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.
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.
A: No. Only volunteer work directly related to organizing is eligible for substitute hours.
A: Prior relevant paid work experience must meet the same criteria for teaching, transferring or demonstrating organizing skills as described in the Eligibility Requirements.
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 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.
A: Everywhere! While organizing industry associations such as NAPO, POC, ICD, and AAPO can be good options for CEU-eligible classes, we strongly encourage you to expand your horizons to examine other sources — community colleges, university extensions, other professional organizers, related professionals, online learning websites, and professional societies for related industries.
A: No. Any class, course, or conference session, no matter who presents it, must meet BCPO's criteria for CEUs in order to be eligible. Just because a class or conference session is given by NAPO, POC, or another organizing industry association does not necessarily mean that it is 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. Alternative forms of verification of attendance may 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 recertifying CPO® can count only 15 non-live CEUs. 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: 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. 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: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 can be found on this site.
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, but the references in 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. BCPO® cannot 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 noncredit 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: 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: Once you have successfully scheduled your examination online, you will receive an email with your Examination Admission letter. You must bring this letter with you to the testing center, along with your government issued photo ID.
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, weather 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 food, beverages, electronic devices such as cell phones and PDAs, calculators, papers or books into the test area. You are encouraged to leave any unnecessary personal items at home or locked in your vehicle. 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 and you will not need to begin again.
A: Yes. Questions can be bookmarked, and returned to at a later point in the exam. Be sure to answer all questions, as only answered questions are scored.
A: Yes. You can bookmark, review and change 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: Two hours is allowed for 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.
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 do not able 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.
Failing candidates 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: No. 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. 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: To apply for re-examination, 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 from SMT, the Audit Committee is made up of qualified subject matter experts with a full understanding of the organizing profession. 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 be replaced with an alternate.
A: You will receive comprehensive instructions via your email address on record and by USPS surface mail.
A: Think about what you would provide for an IRS audit. You may use 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: You will need to provide three references who may be contacted by the auditors. It will be made clear in the interview 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, there are guidelines detailed on the website.
A: Once you receive your official CPO® notification and certificate, you may refer to yourself as a Certified Professional Organizer®.
A: Only those who have received the letter and certificate stating that they have successfully passed the CPO® examination and certification requirements are authorized to use the BCPO® and CPO® logos.
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 has expired or is terminated, you must immediately discontinue use of the logo. All Rights of Use of the BCPO® and CPO® logos are available here.
A: If you have observed a misuse of the BCPO® or CPO® logo, please submit all relevant details to email@example.com.
A: Review the Ethics Complaint Procedure carefully and act accordingly.
Ellen Delap, CPO®
Keep abreast of all BCPO news regarding events and testing information.