Professional conventions, education conferences, cosmetology trade shows, international summit meetings and celebrity wedding receptions may not seem very much alike, but one common thread that runs through them all is the work that's done behind the scenes. Dedicated and experienced event planning professionals use marketing and business skills in their work to assemble the components of these large gatherings and ensure that they go off smoothly once they're underway.
The specific duties of careers in event planning tend to depend on the individual specialty of the planner, which training at online colleges in event planning can help you choose, but there are a few general responsibilities common among most professionals in the field:
- Meeting with organizers to understand an event's needs and purpose
- Locating a suitable venue based on event size and duration
- Arranging catering, decorating and other services
- Preparing budgets, invoices and other financial documents
- Coordinating and monitoring event activities
Careers in event planning can require careful attention to detail and the ability to manage several streams of activity simultaneously, but it can be one of the most exciting and creatively engaging business careers available for those who can handle the challenges.
How much do Event Planners Make?
National yearly salaries for event planner careers averaged to a mean of $50,910 and a median of $46,490 in 2014, according to data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The top 10 percent of earners in the field took home $82,060 or more the same year, while the bottom 10 percent earned up to $25,940.
Wage expectations for careers in event planning often depend on a variety of factors, including education level, industry focus and amount of experience in the field. Geography also plays a big part in the salaries of event planner careers, with mean annual 2014 figures ranging from $22,340 in the lowest-paying area to $69,740 on the high end of regional averages.
Here's a breakdown of the five metropolitan areas in the U.S. where salaries for careers in event planning were the highest in 2014:
- Bridgeport, CT: $69,740
- Nassau, NY: $67,140
- San Francisco, CA: $66,610
- New York, NY: $66,330
- Bethesda, MD: $66,180
New York was the highest paid state overall for event planner careers, with Connecticut and Massachusetts rounding out the top three.
Occupational Requirements and Job Types For Event Planners
A bachelor's degree is typically required when applying for careers in event planning, and many employers prefer candidates who have some workforce experience at hotels, convention centers or other large-scale venues in the hospitality and tourism industry. Top-quality candidates for event planner careers have strong communication skills, a knack for customer service, natural organizational ability and the composure to stay calm and in control during high-stress situations.
You can prepare for the challenges of event planning careers by training in a variety of academic disciplines, including public relations, marketing, communications and business. Colleges and universities around the country are also increasingly offering dedicated online degrees in event planning and hospitality management, for those who know early on that they want to make event planning their career.
Careers in event planning are distributed across a variety of industries, with tourism and professional services taking the top two spots. Here are five economic sectors that contained the largest percentage of careers in event planning in 2014, according to the BLS:
- Traveler accommodation: 11.1 percent
- Business, professional, labor, political and similar organizations: 10.6 percent
- Administrative support services: 8.0 percent
- Colleges, universities and professional schools: 6.6 percent
- Promoters of performing arts, sports and similar events: 4.6 percent
Even though travel is often required in event planner careers, most professionals in the field spend most of their time working in an office or shared professional space. About one in six event planners — between 16 and 17 percent — were self-employed in 2012.