CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become an event planner.
Is becoming an event planner right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
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Although a Bachelor’s Degree in Event Planning is not explicitly required to become an event planner, many planners have a related undergraduate degree; and the credential certainly enhances marketability.
Hospitality management is a common degree choice for those wanting to work in the field. However, there are other majors that prepare future job candidates as well. These include marketing, public relations, and business.
Valuable coursework includes:
- Special events marketing
- Facilities operation
- Media relations
- Human resource management
- Relationship management
- Accounting and cost control strategies
- Contract negotiation
- Event design, coordination, promotion, and management
- Project management software
- Risk management
- Professional ethics
Some hospitality and tourism management programs partner with businesses which offer internships, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in the field. Opportunities may exist with tourism boards, hotels, travel agencies, event planning companies, and other industry sectors.
Before becoming responsible for managing client events, event planners typically spend some time in an entry-level position. During this period, they generally assist established planners and plan small meetings and/or forums under close supervision.
Their on-the-job training invariably includes learning at least one software program specific to the events industry. Eventbrite, Whova, Cvent, Trello, Social Tables, and DoubleDutch are among the most popular.
The following are examples of entry-level position titles in the event planning field:
- Event Operations Coordinator
- Meeting Management Coordinator
- Events Associate
- Events Assistant
Advancement or Self-Employment
With experience comes opportunity for advancement. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are many different types of event planners.
Corporate planners focus on meetings and other programs for their own corporation. They may plan and operate events independently or they may enlist the help of an event planning company. These companies often employ many planners and manage events for multiple clients. Government agencies and non-profit organizations also employ meeting and event planners.
While advancing in the field, most event planners develop and maintain a portfolio of their work, composed of photographs, sample invitations, brochures, attendee registration templates, and references from both clients and vendors. These concrete examples demonstrate to prospective employers their knowledge, creativity, and experience. Or they prepare planners to launch an independent business.
Resources & Certification
Though not mandatory, event planning certifications help planners stand out to potential employers.
Meeting Planners International (MPI) is one of the most respected associations serving the meetings and events industry. In addition to providing its members with continuing education and networking opportunities, MPI administers its own certification program to obtain the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation.
This blog by Lauren Katsel provides detailed information about 12 other meetings and events designations listed below.
- Certified Meeting Planner (CMP)
- Certified Association Executive (CAE)
- Certified Conference and Events Professional (CCEP)
- Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME)
- Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM)
- Certified Facilities Executive (CFE)
- Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP)
- Certified for Manager of Exhibits and Healthcare (CME/H)
- Certified Meeting Manager (CMM)
- Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE)
- Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP)
- Destination Management Certified Professional (DMCP)