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Event Planner Certification Requirements and Career Info

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 certifications to find out if this is the career for you.

An event planner arranges and plans a number of social or business functions, working off client suggestions. A bachelor's degree or certification, in addition to relevant experience, is preferred by employers. There are several certification options to pick from, each having different requirements.

Essential Information

Event planners coordinate meetings, conventions, parties and weddings, while keeping in mind various considerations including the host's requests, the location, the guest list and the available budget. Event planners may be responsible for finding a venue, developing a menu or agenda, securing a keynote speaker and inviting guests. They may work with other hospitality professionals like caterers and hotel managers.

Required Education Bachelor's degree preferred
Other Requirements Certifications preferred
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 10% for meeting, convention, and event planners
Mean Annual Salary (2015)* $51,200 for meeting, convention, and event planners

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree and work experience in the hospitality industry. Event planners who wish to further their careers may be interested in obtaining certification from a professional event planning organization. Applicants interested in these certifications must be able to demonstrate previous event planning experience, as well as relevant career skills and professional knowledge.

Event Planning Certification Requirements

While certifications in event planning are not a requirement for success in the field, they may help increase career advancement opportunities. These certifications are offered by professional organizations and typically require event planners to have verified professional experience and pass a written examination. Certifications may focus on general career skills or specific meeting types.

One commonly recognized credential is the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), which is offered by the Convention Industry Council (www.conventionindustry.org). Professionals must have three years of experience working as a planner or educational instructor in order to qualify to take the exam. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the CMP exam covers topics that include facilities, services and meeting programs (www.bls.gov).

The Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP) credential is offered by The Society of Government Meeting Professionals (www.sgmp.org). This particular certification can prove that an event planner has a thorough understanding of the complex regulations that apply to government meetings. Only professionals who've been members of The Society of Government Meeting Professionals for more than a year are eligible to sit for the CGMP exam, which covers such topics as federal travel regulations, ethics and risk management.

There are other credentials that event planners can earn, including certifications emphasizing the organization of distance meetings. The Connected International Meeting Professionals Association offers certifications in international and Internet meetings (www.cimp.org). The Learning Resources Network offers the Certified Virtual Meeting Planner credential for those interested in leading online meetings and events (www.lern.org)

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS reported that the overall employment of event, meeting, and convention planners was expected to increase by 10% from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the BLS reported that the average annual salary of an event planner was $51,200. Besides professional event planning organizations, other industries that were major employers of those working in this field included private companies; professional, grantmaking, civil and similar organizations; and accommodation and food service organizations.

One who desires a career as an event planner should seek a college education and gain experience working in hospitality-related fields. Certification, while optional, can be advantageous to job prospects as it demonstrates skills and understanding of event planning.

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