Skip to Main Content

Professional Organizers


Professional organizing as a job or career has developed relatively recently. Within the last forty years, individuals across the country, generally working independently, have offered their services in clean-ups, clean-outs, relocations, downsizing, decluttering, redesigning, and generally creating order in physical spaces and in people’s everyday lives. Those individuals, joined by retailers and spurred on by media, have created a new and booming industry. In 1978, the Container Store opened its first location, devoted primarily to the sale of products necessary for organizing files, boxes, bins, tins, and baskets; by 2020 it operated 93 stores in 33 states and sold about 10,000 products.

Media has played a large role in the development of the industry as well. In 2003, Style Network premiered a documentary series called Clean House, one of the first reality television shows featuring professional organizers focusing on household organizing, decluttering, and interior design. This was followed in 2009, with Hoarders, the Arts & Entertainment channel’s reality TV series depicting the struggles and experiences of real life hoarders. Other shows included Hoarding, Buried Alive, on TLC (The Learning Channel), premiering in 2010, and Clean Sweep which aired on TLC from 2003 to 2005.

In 1984, the Association of Professional Organizers (APO) became the first formal professional organization for organizers, growing out of informal meetings of a group of Los Angeles women working in the then-developing field of organizing. The APO subsequently became the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) in 1986 when they changed their name to reflect their growing membership across the country. The Institute for Challenging Disorganization began as a special interest group of the NAPO, but transitioned to a separate organization in 2001.

Related Professions