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Event Planning Certification and Certificate Program Overviews

Learn about the similarities and differences between event planning certification and certificate programs. See examples of job titles, what's needed for continuing education and the potential salary of meeting and convention planners.

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Essential Information

Certification is typically not a requirement for event planners, but it can demonstrate one's expertise in the field. Depending on one's background, individuals may enroll in a certification or certificate program. Those with event planning experience are typically eligible for a certification preparation program, while high school graduates typically apply for certificate programs.

The curricula of these two programs varies slightly, but covers topics applicable to the planning of events, such as staffing, food and beverages, budgeting, advertising and vendor contracts. Certification requires an examination and the completion of continuing education units.

Event Planning Certification Program

Earning certification in event planning proves that an individual has expertise in planning meetings and events for private, public and government functions. Several nationally recognized event planning organizations provide certification programs, and many of these programs focus on specific niches within the industry. Professionals who earn industry certification can usually charge higher rates and may find more employment opportunities.

Education Prerequisites

Each organization that provides certification programs has different educational prerequisites. Some require applicants to hold undergraduate degrees, whereas others allow applicants to substitute work experience for academic training.

Certification Exam Topics

Each certification exam may cover topics unique to a particular organization. For example, a company that plans government events may include exam topics about foreign dignitaries or national security. Most event planning certification exams also cover key issues common to all event planning fields. Topics may include:

  • Marketing and event promotions
  • Site and vendor reservations
  • Budget planning
  • Meeting management
  • Staff coordination

Popular Career Options

The majority of workers who earn certifications in event planning have industry experience. Some professionals prefer to run their own event planning businesses, while others may choose to work with event planning teams at independent companies. Possible career options and job titles include:

  • Wedding planner
  • Convention coordinator
  • Event reservations liaison
  • Corporate planner
  • Education seminar director

Continuing Education Information

In order to maintain certification, some organizations require certified professionals to participate in continuing education coursework related to the event planning industry. Some individuals may choose to meet these requirements by completing degree or certificate programs in fields such as hospitality management or event planning. Attendance at approved seminars and conventions may also fulfill continuing education requirements for some organizations.

Event Planning Certificate Program

Certificate programs in event planning teach students the fundamental skills necessary for organizing professional events. In these programs, students learn about establishing meeting or event goals, developing activity schedules and coordinating plans with staff members. To be successful in these programs requires strong organizational skills and the ability to communicate well with others.

Education Prerequisites

The majority of undergraduate certificate programs only require that applicants hold the equivalent of high school diplomas. Since the event planning industry utilizes technology, especially document-making programs and the Internet, computer literacy skills are generally required.

Course Topics

Topics discussed in these certificate programs often cover the business side of event planning, as well as the practical skills needed for planning all event details. Many certificate programs offer electives that allow individuals to specialize in particular types of events, such as weddings, corporate meetings, charity events and government meetings. Common courses include:

  • Financial management
  • Audio-visual implementation
  • Venue selection
  • Vendor contracts
  • Risk management
  • Food and beverage planning
  • Event design strategies
  • Vendor negotiations
  • Special events planning

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed meeting and convention planners was expected to increase 16% from 2008-2018. During this time, job prospects may be strongest for individuals who have experience, certifications or bachelor's degrees. The median salary for meeting and convention planners was $46,020 as of May 2011, reports the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

Students may consider pursuing bachelor's degrees in hospitality or event management. Professionals in this industry also need to stay up to date on trends by routinely attending seminars and classes that cover hospitality technology, marketing or special events designs.

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