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Event Planner: Starting a Career in Event Planning

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an event planner. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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There are several options for those planning to start a career as an event planner. It is possible to take a certificate in event planning or an associate's or bachelor's degree in hospitality management. Most employers prefer applicants with postsecondary education, and voluntary professional certification is also an option.

Essential Information

An event planner is a professional who coordinates and organizes meetings, luncheons and other special events for companies or individual clients. Event planning careers typically require strong organizational and communication skills. While it is possible to work as an event planner with no formal education, aspiring planners may choose to complete a certificate program in event planning or earn a bachelor's degree in hospitality management.

Required Education None mandatory; certificate programs in event planning are available, as are bachelor's and master's degrees in hospitality management and related disciplines
Other Requirements Voluntary certification available through the International Special Events Society
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 10% for all meeting, convention and event planners
Median Salary (2015)* $46,840 for all meeting, convention and event planners

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Event Planner Educational Requirements

While there are no specific educational requirements to become an event planner, candidates with college degrees may have an advantage, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Many employers prefer to hire individuals who have a bachelor's degree in a relevant communications-oriented or management discipline, such as hospitality management. Schools offer bachelor's and master's degree programs in hospitality management that include courses like management of food production, hospitality marketing and facilities management.

Colleges also offer certificate programs in event planning designed for professionals already in the event planning field; however, these programs can also benefit planners who are just starting out. The curricula may include classes in budgeting for events, risk management and negotiating with vendors.

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Career Information for Event Planners

Most event planners learn the skills they need on the job. However, prospective event planners can prepare for their future careers by gaining work experience through volunteering, such as planning events for school groups or clubs. Some candidates have also gained planning experience while working in other fields, such as administrative assisting, catering or marketing, planning small meetings or events.

To have the best chance of success in this field, event planners must possess exceptional oral and written communication skills, as well as excel at creating and maintaining good working relationships. Once their experience is established, planners may be in a position to work as consultants or open their own companies.

Certification Options

Professional organizations like the International Special Events Society (ISES) offer certification to event planners. Professionals with at least three years of industry experience may earn the ISES Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) designation after passing a written exam. Certification may be beneficial for event planners to use as a marketing tool in attracting potential clients.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

Event, meeting and convention planners could expect a very significant job growth of 10% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These professionals earned a median yearly salary of $46,840 in May 2015. The top ten percent of workers earned $82,050 or more annually, while the bottom ten percent made $25,680 or less per year.

To prepare for a career as an event planner, it is essential to develop strong communication skills. Work experience as an administrative assistant or experience in marketing can also help develop skills that will be beneficial to an event planner. Completing a relevant degree or certificate program can also help get a job in this growing field.

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