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CAREERS

EVENT PLANNER

Make a living one wedding, conference or trade show at a time as an event planner.

If you love a good party, becoming an event planner may be the right career for you. However, don't make the mistake of thinking this type of job is all fun and games. These professionals work hard to ensure a conference, party or meeting appears effortless.

What Does an Event or Meeting Planner Do?

Every event planner career is different, and a person's duties may depend on the type of events they coordinate. You could be charged with planning something as personal as a wedding, something as large as a national convention, or a more mid-sized event. However, a few general responsibilities are commonly listed in the event planner job description, regarding of the specific type of event.

  • 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

"The meeting and event planning profession is becoming more and more strategic, and planners are constantly being asked to deliver more with less budget and resources," says Matthew Marcial, the former senior director of events for the industry group Meeting Professionals International and current vice president of conferences and sales at The Institute of Internal Auditors.

How to Become an Event Planner

As with any career, the steps to entering this profession can vary depending on your background and goals. However, a typical career path for those entering the event planning field looks something like this:

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree: A four-year degree is the standard education in the profession. "Degree programs from hospitality to business management would prepare a student for success," Marcial says. In addition, specific event planning degree programs are available.
  2. Gain work experience: Having a background in the hospitality industry can be beneficial for this career. Internships, job shadowing or employment at hotels or convention bureaus are options to gain this experience.
  3. Become certified: A professional event planning certification may help enhance your job prospects. The following are a few of the credentials available in the industry:
    • Certified Meeting Professional conferred by the Events Industry Council
    • Certified Government Meeting Professional conferred by the Society of Government Meeting Professionals
    • Certified Wedding Planner conferred by the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners
  4. Continue your education: Event planning certification programs may require continuing education classes to maintain credentials. Plus, it's always a good idea to stay on top of the latest industry trends. "Organizations like Meeting Professionals International…offer a number of professional development options, including a number of certificate programs and live events offering clock hours which go towards certification in the industry," Marcial says.

Essential Skills and Abilities for Event, Meeting, and Convention Planners

Careers in event planning can require careful attention to detail and the ability to manage several streams of activity simultaneously. To be successful in this profession, it helps to have the following skills and abilities.

  • Active listening: Planners need to be able to listen closely and ask appropriate questions in order to create an event that matches their client's vision.
  • Coordination: An event can contain many moving parts, such as catering and entertainment, and these must be managed smoothly and efficiently.
  • Critical thinking: Problems can easily arise during the planning or execution of an event, and good planners are able to quickly weigh their options to select the best solution.
  • Problem sensitivity: Those who pull together all the various pieces of a conference, wedding or other event, need to anticipate when and where things may go wrong.
  • Fluency of ideas: Planners who have this ability are able to come up with many creative ideas for their events.

Event Planner Salary and Job Outlook

How much do event planners make? The answer can 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 salaries. However, the following provides a snapshot of national averages.

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean WageProjected Job Growth Rate
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners117,610$54,8807.2%
2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Where Can You Work as an Event or Meeting Planner?

Jobs in event planning may be found across a variety of industries, including the following:

  • Nonprofit
  • Corporate
  • Government
  • Hospitality
  • Entertainment

"A career in meeting and event planning also offers various work environments, from working at home, in a traditional office setting, or even at a hotel or resort," Marcial says.

Professional Associations for Event, Meeting and Convention Planners

For more information about the event planning industry, visit the websites for these professional organizations.

Events Industry Council

PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association)

Meeting Professionals International

Article Sources
Article Sources
  • Meeting, Convention and Event Planners, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed June 2020, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/meeting-convention-and-event-planners.htm
  • Job Description Template: Event Planner, LinkedIn, Accessed June 2020, https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/job-descriptions/event-planner
  • Meeting, Convention and Event Planners, O*Net Online, Accessed June 2020, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/13-1121.00
  • Matthew Marcial, former Senior Director of Events, Meeting Professionals International, interviewed by the author June 2015
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