The truth about choosing home staging courses including reviews, the best home staging certification course, accreditation information, and the best way to become a home stager…
I’m using my 15 years of home staging industry experience to be your resource for expert advice on home staging courses, classes, and training options available, including some that offer certification.
We’re going to start off with my top choices such as QC Design School and Staging Diva, and then get into more details about different home staging courses, training, and schools.
Recommended Home Staging Courses (Online & Offline Training Options)
These are the best programs on the market covering a range of budgets and learning styles, including online and offline/hands-on options.
Best Affordable Certification:
School of Home Staging
Our courses here at SHS give you a cost-effective way to get all the info you need to hit the ground running as a professional home stager.
No longer accepting students. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Best Higher-End Online Training:
Whether you sign up for the a la carte home staging courses or the complete program (recommended), this training is priced higher but definitely worth it when you look at the level of business and marketing training that you’ll receive.
Best Redesign & Home Staging Certification (Canada-based):
QC Design School Home Staging & Redesign Double Certification Program
QC Design School has a convenient training program with payment plan options. QC’s unique double redesign and home stager certification adds to your marketability and income potential since you can take on both staging and redesign projects. See below for QC Design School review. As a side note, this program is great if you are looking for courses with certification – or if you are looking for a Canada-based course specifically. They do accept students from the US, Australia, South Africa, and most other countries.
Best Hands-On Training:
One of the oldest home staging courses, a good option if you want to travel to an in-person class. (During pre-Covid times this was the best offline option. Of course due to pandemic changes, if you are set on an in-person class you may have to wait quite a while!)
Quiz: Do You Have the Eye of a Stager?
Choose the Best Home Staging Certification Course to Get Started in Your New Career
This is going to be a somewhat epic post of home staging course reviews that I hope you’ll find to be a helpful resource in determining which program is the best one for you.
Please understand that I am uniquely qualified to give you my take on all of these classes, not because I’ve personally taken all of them, but because of my experience as an instructor. Helping you find the program that’s best for YOU is my main objective in writing this.
Over the years, I’ve had students and industry contacts who have signed up for many of these other training programs. I’ve heard a lot over the years and I’m just going to pass some of that along to you.
I also look carefully at the course syllabus (if available), instructor credentials, and I also do a ton of research via a variety of sources.
A little background first:
I started out in the industry back in 2004 and by 2005 I had launched my first online course. Back then, there weren’t that many options for people who wanted to learn about how to become a home stager.
Online home staging courses were brand new. It was an interesting challenge to come up with a way of teaching a hands-on discipline like real estate staging via an online delivery method.
I was able to create a successful program and offer certification to thousands of new stagers over the course of 15 + years and counting. After all these years I still love this business and helping out new stagers.
Many brand new schools have come onto the scene over time and new ones still continue to pop up, but I tend to favor the ones with longer track records such as QC Design School, Staging Diva, and StagedHomes.com.
When I look at all of these courses I have a good idea of how long they’ve been around and I’ve seen many of them evolve and expand over the years in real time. I’ve heard anecdotal bits of info (good and bad) from them over the last decade+, some of which was passed along to me via students that ended up enrolling in my program.
That says something in itself, so I will maybe hint a little bit but I’m not going to get into negativity. Some that I’ve heard discouraging things about have simply been left off the list.
I’m not going to discuss the new kids on the block with no real track record, and I’m not going to discuss some of the others that you may or may not have heard of, and there are reasons for that. Anyway, there are many positive aspects of each of these home staging (certification or otherwise) courses.
Staging Diva Review
I recommend this program elsewhere on the site and here’s why:
This program has been around since the early days of home staging courses, and in all the time I’ve been a home staging instructor I have not had students express any complaints about the Staging Diva program. (I’ve heard complaints about some of the others, unfortunately.)Take a look at Debra Gould's free course to get a feel for her style.
Few people in this business can match “Staging Diva” Debra Gould’s powerful combination of knowledge about how to stage, and good old-fashioned design know-how PLUS business and marketing skills. And there’s a real sense of confidence, creativity, and enthusiasm about her that I have always found inspiring.
If this program had been available at the time when I was getting started, I would have jumped at the chance to sign up. This is the course I *wish* existed back then, to be honest, because it would have saved me time, helped me make more money early on, and probably helped me steer clear of a few mistakes.
There are individual staging classes available or you can take the full program for what I like to think of as a real road map to becoming a home stager and running a lucrative business.
(You may also want to take a look at this article about home staging in a recession.)
Here’s the link:
Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program
School of Home Staging
This industry has given me an abundance of rewards and it’s not an exaggeration to say that the industry changed my life. That’s why I want to help others get started and remove financial obstacles such as the high costs of real estate staging training and certification.
- Intro, why we stage homes, depersonalization,
- Common problems in houses for sale and how to solve them
- Color tips, color psychology, best colors to use, home staging style, interior design principles
- Room-by-room checklist
- How to stage a house, using vignettes, staging vacant homes
- Staging Psychology
Business Start-up Material: Working on your skills, setting up your business, business structure, business licenses, insurance, business cards, websites, setting up WordPress, domain names, copywriting, SEO basics, using social media, networking, marketing ideas, setting your fees, handling clients, consultations, furniture rental, billing
Check out our home staging certification.
Once you pass your final exam you will receive the C.H.S. (Certified Home Stager) designation. (You’ll receive your CHS designation certificate in the mail within 7-10 business days.)
If you’re not looking for certification, we also have the eBook version of our course material available. (Does not include instructor feedback.)
This is another one of the older options available. It’s the school founded by Barb Schwarz who says that she created home staging.
My understanding is that Barb Schwarz is no longer involved in StagedHomes, having sold the business fairly recently. I know that Barb’s can-do vibe and infectious enthusiasm were a big draw for these in-person classes and I’m sure she will be missed!
Through this program you can obtain the ASP certification, if that is important to you. It’s maybe the best-known of the home stager certification designations; my only reservation is whether it’s even necessary to have such a credential.
They do three-day seminars in places like Lubbock,Texas; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The training is well-regarded by people who have attended and many feel that the ASP home staging accreditation really opens doors. But the expense is higher than others at about $1800, plus travel expenses. Also, just having to find that much time that you can be away. So that may be a factor for you. (It would be for me.)
It’s a great option if you learn better by being in person with an instructor and classmates, and of course if you’re comfortable with the expense.
However, can you learn what you need in three days?
It just depends on your learning style. I find that I learn better with a day or two between intensive learning sessions; it gives my brain a chance to process it all and it keeps me from getting overloaded with too much information too quickly. Real estate staging courses (or any type of class for that matter) that pack too much in too quickly can be ineffective.
QC Design School Review
QC Design School is a program I recommend if you want an affordable (because of the payment plan) home staging certification program. QC takes it a step further by offering a double certification in home staging and redesign, which is a smart add-on that can expand your client base and help your business grow.
My recommendation for QC’s training really hinges on the fact that you can get the double certification. Being perfectly straight with you, it’s not my top pick overall, but the extra marketability of the redesign cert. makes it unique and the payment plan option is helpful.
They have a free preview available to check out, and the training is priced reasonably at about $1000 if you pay in full.
One thing I like about the QC Design School courses is the fact that they have payment plan options. You can opt for 13 payments of a little over $100 (billed monthly) or you can choose the accelerated payment plan of 5 payments of about $260.
The QC program is set up as follows (and I’m just giving you the highlights here).
QC Design School Home Staging Certification Courses & Redesign Program Outline:
Unit A: Industry overview, color psychology, color palettes for staging, and a walk-through of a full-service project start to finish.
Unit B: Depersonalizing, decluttering, prepping each room, style, using accessories and artwork.
Unit C: Lighting, curb appeal, window treatments.
Unit D: Learn about floor plans and go further in-depth into home design.
Unit E: Complete a staging project.
Unit F: Business start-up, marketing, getting clients.
See more about the QC Design School Home Staging and Redesign Certification Program.
Home Staging Institute
One of the oldest training programs in the biz, where you can get a solid home staging education with certification for an affordable price.
It’s honestly not the most comprehensive option available but for the price, I think you’ll find that it does what you need it to do. It is very straightforward, actionable material. There are different courses available depending on your budget and training needs. I have not heard a lot of recent HSI reviews, to be honest, and like Staged Homes, ownership of HSI has changed in the last few years.
Home Staging Academy
This program says it’s the UK’s most popular staging training program. I have not seen this company out there in the world of real estate staging courses until fairly recently, which may only mean that their SEO efforts have gotten them higher up in rankings, not that they didn’t exist.
Anyway, they offer a free intro so you can get a feel for the material and quality.
The Art of Professional Home Staging program is a 10-course bundle that has a 30-day “no quibble” money-back guarantee. As of this writing the course is $474. They also have a payment plan option but the cost is substantially that higher that way, with three payments of $197 each.
Topics covered include: intro to professional staging, color planning, space & feng shui, lighting, decluttering, accessorizing, consultations, and business start-up.
Like many others, the class is self-paced. Keep in mind that home staging certification is not available through this program. This could be the best class to look into if you’re in the UK and if you’re not looking for certification.
CSP Staging Training
This is a Canadian company that has been around since 2005. The website is stagingtraining.com but the company name is CSP International. I was a little confused about their branding at first because the certification they issue is called CSP.
When I read their history it seemed like CSP stood for “Canadian Staging Professional” but right now they refer to it as meaning “Certified Staging Professional” which is apparently open to anyone, so it is not just a home staging course with certification in Canada.
They offer a three-day in-person home staging certification program, which consists of two days in a classroom and one day in the field. They state that they are the most comprehensive training program for stagers.
I’m unable to locate the pricing info for their in-person class, which usually means the price is high. They want to get all of your information so they can send you an info packet that hopefully does list the price. I’m not going to give them my details, so the actual price will remain a mystery for now.
There are plenty of dates and locations available across the US and Canada, it looks like at least two sessions per month in each country, plus dates available in Australia less frequently.
There are online options as well, but not for the professional home staging staging certification program.
The online classes range from “Certified Relocation & Transition Specialist” so you can earn the CRTS certification, “Pricing Your Products and Services for a Premium Market”, “Mastering the Art of Difficult Conversations with Sellers”, and “Staging for Millennials”. These online courses range in price from about $25-50 as of this writing.
If you read the bio of the head of the CSP school, Christine Rae, it talks a lot about her being a business woman and a pioneer in the industry, but it doesn’t mention her experience as a stager. Is there any?
As noted above, CSP certification is available only through the in-person program. They strongly recommend that you get certified since it would be akin to trying to be a real estate agent without a license (according to their site). Um, no, that’s not how that works. That would actually be illegal. You can most definitely be a home stager without a certification!
Are you getting the sense from my home staging course reviews that the one takeaway I want you to get is that you do not absolutely need to have a certification? It can definitely be a good tool, but think of it as a tool and not a magic pill of some kind that will turn you into a successful stager.
And just because a program offers certification doesn’t mean the training is superior.
Academy of Home Staging
I mean, OK, this school offers a $3,000 (!) program. It’s a 5-day class that you travel to, and in some cases during the west coast courses (not clear if she’s always present at all courses) you get to train with Wanda Colon who has been on HGTV shows.
The east coast classes feature a different interior design celeb.
They also have different versions of a home study certification for about $1000 or $1500. You get to watch the full 5-day class sessions on eight DVDs.
It says they have been in the training business since 2007, but I only remember seeing them starting in around 2012 or so.
I don’t like the programs that are trying to get as much money as possible from you, I’m sorry. I know they’re in business to make money but I also disagree with taking it too far. I’m sure this program is fine if you’re comfortable with the expense.
The home study classes are in line with what others cost and if it were me I would probably opt for one of those. But that’s my learning style. I learn better independently, without the distractions of class discussions that can go off-topic, etc.
And with this program, if you want to see something again you can just back the DVD up and watch it again.
My reservation with this training is the price point. You can get everything you need in a home staging program for much less than $3,000 plus travel expenses.
The amount that you pay for your training has no bearing on your success level as a home stager. What matters is the work you put in, the quality of your portfolio, marketing efforts, etc.
Is Home Staging Certification Necessary?
Ok so now just let me speak for a second about certification. Courses that try to tell you that you absolutely “must” be certified are simply not being honest.
There is no industry-wide standard for certification or accreditation of any kind in the home staging industry.
The danger with certification can be that it leads students think that it’s a magic pill that will turn them into a successful home stager just by completing a certain program. As long as you think of it as just another tool at your disposal then it can be helpful.
Some students like to go through the process of getting a certificate because it makes them feel validated in a new field that they’re entering. That’s completely understandable.
Also, it can help on those occasions when a Realtor or client may ask if you have a certification. You may find it helpful and a lot more comfortable to be able to answer “yes” to that question. I will say that in my experience, people don’t ask what specific credential or certification etc. you have. If you want to be able to answer “Yes I am certified” then you can do so without having to spend $1,000.
Forgive me for repeating myself but your portfolio and your marketing efforts are going to have much more of a bearing on your business success than having a specific credential or accreditation.
Likewise, memberships in industry organizations can be nice for a sense of community, but membership won’t make you into a successful stager. It all comes down to the fact that you have to put the work in, have great before and afters, put your website together, and get your name out there.
For new stagers, I usually advise saving the annual dues that they charge; sign up sometime after you’ve been in business for a couple of years, if you still want to at that point.
Home Staging Certification Courses Final Thoughts
Ultimately, you have to look closely at each program and determine which one seems like the right fit for you.
These home staging course reviews are meant as an overview to give you the points that stand out to me about each program. To be clear, I’m not someone who has taken these courses.
I’m an industry veteran who has seen most of these programs enter the field and try to position themselves as the best training. I’ve heard feedback from students of many of these programs and taken everything into consideration carefully before making me recommendations.
Why do I recommend other courses while also selling our own SHS courses? Because our course isn’t the perfect answer for everyone. There isn’t a course in existence anywhere that’s perfect for everyone. I’ve tried to give you guidance for making the selection process easier.
I’ve been in this field since the beginning and I feel it’s my responsibility to provide accurate information to the best of my knowledge.
To quickly sum up, QC Design School and Staging Diva are similarly priced online programs that I recommend.
Our program here at SHS gives you more affordable training / certification options.
For a hands-on seminar, I would suggest looking at classes offered by StagedHomes.com.
I hope this post has helped you choose the best home staging course to suit your needs.
If you have questions you can always send me an email.