Generally, professionals are required to earn a bachelor’s degree in meeting and event management. Some of the courses that students may complete in these programs include human resource management, event sales and sponsorships, financial accounting, agreement negotiating, and relationship management. People can also enter the field by earning a degree in business management, marketing, public relations, communications, or hospitality management.
In order to put their classroom studies into practice, students should get hands-on experience planning events on their own or by participating in an internship at an event planning company. Aspiring planners can gain experience by volunteering for activities at their school, such as helping the student union plan concerts, comedy shows, festivals, and sporting events. Similarly, people can obtain hands-on experience by helping to organize company meetings at their job, or by volunteering for a nonprofit organization that coordinates events.
Event planners are required to master programs that are used in the industry, including project management, customer relationship management, and sales and marketing software. Some specific programs these professionals may use include Marketo Marketing Automation, Microsoft Project, Blackbaud The Raiser's Edge, Convention Industry Council CIC APEX Toolbox, and Active Network EventRegister.
While some event planners are generalists, others choose to specialize in a certain type of event—especially if they want to start their own business. Some of the niches people can focus on include weddings, birthdays, business meetings, conferences, fundraisers, mall events, and corporate retreats.
Whether event planners are looking for a job or clients, a portfolio is a way for them to show off their skills and accomplishments. Portfolios can include photos of the events they organized, press clippings, testimonials, and event brochures or invitations. In addition, any challenges that needed to be overcome related to tight deadlines or budgets, or creative constraints should be explained to help highlight the ability to work under pressure.
Although a certification is not required to get a job, earning one can help professionals impress potential employers and clients. The following are some of the credentials those in the event planning industry can earn.
People who earn a certification are required to take continuing education courses in order to maintain their credentials.
Event planners need to connect with potential clients or employers, as well as other industry professionals such as florists, photographers, entertainers, and caterers. Attending networking events can help them to build their network.
Event planners can market their services in a variety of ways, including maintaining a mailing list of prospective and current clients, being active on social media, and building a website and blog.
Event planners who want to work for themselves will need to obtain a business license from their state. In addition, business owners may also have to get insurance, depending on the requirements of their state.
Students who enroll in any degree program want to know they are going to get a good return on their tuition investment. In order to shed light on how much event planners make, this section provides information on salary potential for professionals at different levels and the job opportunities that these workers will enjoy in the coming years.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2017, event planners earned a median salary of $48,290 per year, with amounts ranging from $26,390 to $82,980 annually. Similarly, Glassdoor reports the following breakdown of how much these professionals can earn over the years of their career.
|Years of Experience||Average Annual Salary|
|0 to 1||$40,581|
|1 to 3||$43,792|
|4 to 6||$52,719|
|7 to 9||$54,712|
|10 to 14||$57,771|
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment for event planners will increase by 11 percent between 2016 and 2026. Although the projected growth for these professionals is expected to be faster than the average of all other professions, the agency notes that economic activity can influence the meetings and events industry. As the economy waxes and wanes, organizations who use the services of event planners adjust their budgets for meetings and other events accordingly.
This section provides information to help future event planners find the college that best meets their needs. There are several factors that can influence which degree programs event planning students choose. Whether they are concerned about tuition costs, the ability to earn certifications, or the delivery method of courses, the search tool below can help people narrow down their choices.
The business of event planning is all about making connections, so it’s important for professionals to be a part of organizations that help them do that, as well as keep their knowledge and skills current. The following are some professional associations that event planners can join to connect with each other and stay informed about what’s going on in the industry.
Organization that provides support to members of the event and amusement industry. People who join this association receive access to networking events, certification programs, legal document templates, and industry software.
Organization for business event strategists. Members get access to education opportunities, market intelligence, and publications.
Organization that promotes high standards and integrity in the field by providing resources and education to professionals.
Provides resources for catering and event professionals, including education opportunities, networking events, and certifications.
Meeting and event industry organization that provides certificate programs, webinars, blog posts, and networking events. Those who join this association can receive industry research journals, job board access, newsletters, and on-demand professional development services. In addition, people can connect with professionals in their community by participating in local chapters.
Founded in 1928, this association provides services to professionals in the exhibitions and events industry around the world. The organization offers professional development and resources, discounts on services, advocacy, industry news and publications, and webinars.
From wedding planners to florists to cake designers, this organization provides education for professionals in the wedding industry. Members can take courses and webinars, participate in mentoring programs, and attend events. The association has local chapters in Phoenix, Atlanta, New Orleans, San Francisco, and New York.
Supports events workers by providing networking, education, and professional development. Members can also receive discounts on car rentals, shipping, technology, and business management tools.
Organization that provides education programs for academic event planners.
Offers mentor programs, scholarships, networking events and education for event service professionals.
In order to keep their clients happy, it’s important for event planners to continue learning about the industry throughout their careers. The following are some resources that professionals can use to stay up to date on what’s going on in the field.
This article provides advice from meeting planners.
Provides advice on things meeting planners should use on a daily basis.
This article includes information on how meeting planners can be successful at their jobs.
This podcast provides information for those in the event planning industry. Episodes cover managing client expectations, handling guest lists, choosing a wedding officiant, and performing a venue walkthrough.
Planner and designer Fiorella Neira, the owner of Neira Event Group, provides advice on wedding and event planning in this podcast.
Podcast that features interviews with event planners.
Publication that covers news and trends in the events industry.
This magazine provides content for meeting and business event planners.
Provides information on news, trends, and strategies for the convention, meeting, and incentive travel industry.
This page of Meeting Professionals International’s website includes information on the certifications the organization provides.