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Event Planning Certification and Certificate Program Overviews

Certification is typically not a requirement for event planners, but it can demonstrate expertise in the field. Those with event planning experience are typically eligible for a certification preparation program, while high school graduates can apply for certificate programs.

Essential Information

Certification and certificate programs are available for aspiring event planners wishing to gain formal training and demonstrate professional experience. Depending on one's background, individuals may enroll in either a certification or certificate program. Certification programs are considered continuing education and verification of experience and knowledge in the event planning industry. Certificate programs, in contrast, are a starting point for those first entering the event planning field. 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.

  • Program Levels for Event Planning: Certificate or certification
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma and computer literacy for certificate programs; undergraduate degree (work experience allowed as substitute for some programs) for certification programs

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. 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

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.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
  • Vendor contracts
  • Risk management
  • Food and beverage planning
  • Event design strategies

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

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 33% from 2012-2022. 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 $46,490 as of May 2014, reports the BLS.

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 and allows professionals to stay up-to-date on trends in the industry.

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