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How to Become a Party Planner: Education and Career Roadmap

Explore the requirements for becoming a party planner. Learn about the job description and duties, and let us take you through the step-by-step process needed to start a career in party planning.

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Should I Become a Party Planner?

Party planners, or event planners, use their creativity to create parties that bring to life the ideas and visions their clients' suggest. Whether planning a wedding, birthday or other celebration, the party planner efficiently coordinates all aspects of the party so hosts and guests can enjoy themselves the day of the event. Many event planners are freelance and may spend considerable time seeking new clients. Stress is a common factor in this field with extra hours on the weekend and evening often necessary leading up to the event.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level None required; bachelor's degree recommended
Degree Field Event planning, hospitality, business or related field
Certification Voluntary certifications are available
Experience Employers may require 1-2 years of experience from applicants who don't hold a bachelor's degree; professional portfolio
Key Skills Strong communication skills, composure, customer-service skills, negotiation skills, organizational skills, problem-solving skills, ability to operate a computer and use basic software and social media
Salary (2014) $50,910 per year (Mean annual wage for event planners)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Take Event-Planning Courses

While a formal degree is not typically required of party planners, having a bachelor's degree in such fields as event planning, hospitality, business or public relations can help individuals learn the skills they need in order to run a successful business. Some colleges offer professional certificate programs in event planning. The curriculum typically covers various aspects of event management including designing events, starting a company and managing parties. Students also learn how to choose site venues and catering companies.

Success Tip

  • Participate in an internship. An aspiring planner can benefit from participating in an internship at an event planning company. An internship can help a student gain hands-on experience working in the field and learn new skills outside of a classroom environment.

Step 2: Gain Experience

Party planners can gain experience in the field by working for a catering or event planning company. While doing so, individuals can learn the trade, generate ideas and develop multitasking skills. Party planners learn how to scout locations, hire staff for events and handle multiple request. Communicating with clients on ideas and budgets helps new planners gain essential customer-service skills needed for successful party planning.

Step 3: Create a Portfolio

Potential clients are often interested in reviewing a party planner's portfolio before hiring him or her for their event. Taking photos of past events allows party planners to showcase previous work and build upon their ideas.

Step 4: Make Professional Contacts

Garnering business in this industry often requires word-of-mouth referrals. Customers and vendors pass a company's or individual's name along to friends and clients if the party planner's known for putting together flawless and hassle-free events. By building up a client base, party planners may eventually be able to move up within a company or open their own party-planning business.

Success Tip

  • Join a professional organization. Joining a professional organization, such as the Event Planners Association (EPA) or the International Special Events Society (ISES), can help a planner make the networking connections he or she needs to succeed. Other membership benefits include listings in professional directories and subscriptions to professional publications.

Step 5: Consider Certification

Event planners may benefit from earning voluntary certification to stand out as professionals in the field. The ISES offers the Certified Special Events Planner (CSEP) designation to candidates who pass an exam and have at least three years of event planning experience. The CSEP certification must be renewed every five years.

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