Do you think you have what it takes to become an event planner? Whether you’re interested in social event coordinating or you’re curious about organizing corporate events like large-scale conferences, it’s important to know that a career in event planning is rewarding — but not easy.
In fact, “event coordinator” was named the 5th most stressful job in 2017 — listed only after jobs that pose a threat to physical safety. Event planning requires a supreme level of organization, time management, and communication skills that can’t be learned from a book.
Whether you’re just starting out or you have a few years of experience, understanding how other professionals in the space got their start may be the most beneficial first step for becoming a successful event planner.
Here is a career roadmap to becoming an event planner to keep on hand:
Want to learn more about what it takes to be an event planner? Check out “The Top 10 Qualities of Successful Event Managers.”
Infographic Transcription & Additional Takeaways:
Certified meeting, convention, and event planners coordinate and manage all aspects of an event. We care about making the lives of event planners easier, so we’ve put together a simple roadmap for how to become one.
Median annual salary
|$46,840 (as of May 2015)||$22.52 / hour|
Job outlook through 2024
|10% – faster than average (Job Outlook, 2014-24)|
Notes on the “Career Snapshot” section: This is the projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024 for event planners. For reference, the average growth rate for all occupations is 7%. In terms of salary, the locations that contain the highest-paid event planners are Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Napa, California.
|Fast-paced||Office and on-site locations||Travel|
Notes on the “Work Environment” section: It should come as no surprise that the amount of traveling you do will depend on where your clients are based. If you plan on pursing local-only clients, the extent of your travels may not extend beyond your region. If you’re considering event planning on nationwide or global scale, this likely means you’ll be traveling to event locations or meeting at your clients’ headquarters in another state or country.
Step 1 — Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
|Hospitality Management||Tourism Management||Marketing|
|Accounting||Meeting management||Computer skills for business|
|Hospitality management||Event promotion||Event design|
Notes on the “Earn a Bachelor’s Degree” section: Most event planners hold a Bachelor’s Degree in one of the concentrations above. That’s not to say you can’t explore another concentration and still succeed as an event planner, but it is highly recommended that you earn a Bachelor’s degree at the very least in order to give yourself the best shot at competing with your peers.
Step 2 — Get Experience
Complete an internship
|Get hands-on experience||Understand event planning process|
Try relevant entry-level work
|Administrative assistants||Catering coordinator||Estate management|
|Guest Relations Coordinator||Volunteer Events Coordinator||Variety of positions in: Hotels; Convention Centers; Convention Bureaus|
|Shadow professionals||Coordinate meetings||Coordinate forums|
|Join professional organizations (i.e. Meeting Professionals International (MPI))|
Get 1-2 years (Required without a degree)
Notes on the “Get Experience” section: While there is no “correct” path, many fledgling event planners get their early experience during their undergrad years organizing events for their school. Others find their experience by taking internships or by getting in at the ground floor of a small agency. No matter which path you choose, remember that gaining real-world experience is highly regarded in this industry.
Step 3 — Develop Essential Skills
|Project management software||Spreadsheet and database software|
|Troubleshooting||Calm under pressure|
|Service contracts||Secure quality products and services|
|Develop creative solutions|
Notes on the “Develop Essential Skills” section: Having basic spreadsheet and database skills are a necessity in this day and age. Luckily, many of these foundational skills can be learned at school, through internships, or even via online classes. Soft skills such as the ability to keep calm under pressure or maintain relationships are not easily taught in an online course, so that’s where on-the-job experience benefits you.
Step 4 — Earn Certification
Certified Meeting Professional (CMP): For convention, meeting, and exhibition event planners
Certified Meeting Professional-Healthcare (CMP-HC): For healthcare industry meeting planners
Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP): For federal, state, or local government meeting planners; For planners who want to demonstrate knowledge of government purchasing policies and travel regulations
Certifications in Wedding Planning: American Association of Certified Wedding Planners; Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants
Notes on the “Earn a Certification” section: Experts agree that earning a certification is not required in this industry, but it is helpful. Beyond that, it is not recommended that newcomers to the industry start off with a certification because experience is more heavily respected over certifications when clients are looking for potential event planners.