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Event planning degrees online

Within the hospitality field, event planners are something of superstars. While some jobs in the industry have been stagnant, meeting, convention and event planners find themselves in high demand, with above-average career growth expected in the coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But to be eligible for these jobs, it's important to start with the right education and to explore professional certifications that may help your employment prospects. Whether you're looking for a traditional campus-based program or are interested in earning an event planning degree online, keep reading for everything you need to know about starting out on the path to your dream job.

Getting a degree in event planning

At one time, students may have gone directly from high school into the hospitality field, but a higher education is a must for many jobs today. While associate degrees and certificates in event planning are available, the BLS reports most employers prefer job candidates with at least a bachelor's degree. However, that doesn't mean students should automatically dismiss two-year degrees and certificate options.

An associate degree in event planning can be a good way to learn about the field and determine whether this is the right career path for you. In addition to being used as the basis for a bachelor's degree, an associate degree may be used for some entry-level positions as students work toward a BA.

A certificate is another way to gain experience in the field with a minimal time commitment. Some certificate programs can be completed in less than a year, and a certificate may also be a good option for students who already have a degree but want to specialize in a particular area, such as with a hospitality management certificate or one in wedding planning.

At the bachelor's degree level, event planning schools may offer degrees under a number of different names, such as:

  • Hospitality and event management
  • Meeting and event planning
  • Event planning and management
  • Event management and tourism

Regardless of the name, the program will likely cover a mix of hospitality and business topics, including:

  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Public relations

Some schools for event planning may also let student specialize in certain areas such as corporate meetings or conference management.

Earning your degree online

At both the associate and bachelor's degree level, you may find schools offering the opportunity to earn event planning degrees online. In addition, online certificates are readily available from a number of event planning schools.

An online degree program may be ideal for students who need the flexibility to schedule their classes around work and family obligations. Many event planner schools structure their programs so students can log in and review coursework whenever is convenient for them.

Whether a student selects an online or traditional degree program, they should take care to review a school's credentials and make sure it is properly accredited. Check out the Schools.com School Finder to find accredited online and on-campus event planning degrees in your area.

Event planning certification

After graduation, professionals in the field have several options to hone their skills and network with other planners. Graduates may want to consider joining an industry organization devoted to their particular specialization. The following are a few of the organizations and associations available to event and meeting planners:

  • American Association of Certified Wedding Planners
  • Event Planners Association
  • Planning Convention Management Association
  • Meeting Professionals International
  • International Special Events Society
  • Convention Industry Council
  • Society of Government Meeting Professionals

These groups may provide their members with ongoing professional development support and continuing education opportunities. Although not required, additional training may help event planners keep up to date on industry trends and position themselves for advancement.

In addition, several organizations and associations offer credentials that can be earned by professionals working in the field. These include the following designations among others.

  • Trained, Certified or Master Certified Wedding Planner
  • Certificate in Meeting Management
  • Certified Special Events Professional
  • Certified Meeting Professional
  • Certified Government Meeting Professional

Again, although voluntary, earning these credentials may help bolster a professional's job opportunities and help identify them as an individual committed to the profession.

Sources:

AACWP Training, American Association of Certified Wedding Planners,
http://www.aacwp.org/certification/

About the CMP Program, Convention Industry Council,
http://www.conventionindustry.org/CMP/AboutCMP.aspx

The CSEP Program, International Special Events Society,
http://www.ises.com/csep/home

Frequently Asked Questions, Certificate in Meeting Management, Meeting Professionals International,
http://www.mpiweb.org/Education/CMM/faq

CGMP Benefits, Society of Government Meeting Professionals,
http://www.sgmp.org/certification/benefits.cfm

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014, 15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/meeting-convention-and-event-planners.htm

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