Event planners coordinate and manage conferences, meetings and parties. A bachelor's degree in hospitality, communications, public relations or a related field typically is needed to start a career as an event planner. Some hospitality programs offer a concentration in event planning. In these programs, students can expect to complete courses in special events marketing, facilities operations, media relations and cost control strategies.
Professionals who have bachelor's degrees in another field might consider completing an event planning and management certificate program. Common classes in these programs include risk management, event coordination and professional ethics. Some programs allow students to specialize in wedding planning, while others feature courses for students interested in organizing sports and entertainment events.
Perhaps above all else, event planners must have phenomenal communication skills. They consult with clients to determine an event's purpose, estimated size and budget. Since event planners often communicate with clients and vendors through e-mail, they must be able to clearly express themselves in writing. An understanding of contractual language may also prove useful since planners frequently use contracts to protect both themselves and their clients.
Event planners must have excellent organizational skills. Planners regularly work with multiple clients simultaneously, so they must be able to keep the details of each individual client's needs separate and well-managed. The ability to work as a member of a team is also vital for success in this field. For example, event planners who work on large events may choose to hire trusted staff and delegate duties as needed.
To gain a client's trust, a planner usually needs to have previous experience planning similar events. Many planners develop this experience through internship programs or by planning events on campus as part of their undergraduate degree or certificate programs. Other planners develop experience by working as an apprentice or a support staff member for an established event planning firms before starting their own business.
Career Outlook & Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS for short, projected that event, meeting and convention planners could see a 10% increase in employment from 2014-2024. This was higher than the national average for other occupations. These workers made an average salary of $51,200 per year as of May 2015, according to the BLS.
In summary, event planners typically need a bachelor's degree as well as strong communication and organizational skills, the ability to work as part of a team, and previous experience planning events.