Associates Degree in Event Planning: Program Summary

Apr 14, 2021

Essential Information

To apply for a two-year associate's degree program, you need a high school diploma or equivalent. Many times, credits earned in associate's degree programs will transfer to bachelor's program in hospitality management. Some programs require internships, which give students hands on experience in the field.

Certificate programs in meeting and event planning cover the logistical and practical skills behind organizing business gatherings, conventions, trade shows, weddings and other special gatherings. Students learn about choosing meeting sites, marketing events and managing financial risks. Most programs rely on classroom instruction to teach the relevant practical skills and critical thinking abilities. A certificate program is typically a one-year, entry-level course of study with minimal prerequisites for admission.

Associate's in Hospitality and Tourism - Meeting and Event Planning

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) and Associate of Technical Arts (ATA) programs in hospitality and tourism offer a specialization in meeting and event management. In addition to covering practical planning and management skills, the coursework emphasizes research, business administration and event evaluation. The classes provide training in the theoretical and practical aspects of coordinating events and operating restaurants and other services. Courses offered include:

  • Food service budgeting
  • Hospitality operations
  • Non-profit event organization
  • Convention planning
  • Wedding planning

Certificate in Meeting and Event Planning

In meeting and event planning certificate programs, students are taught general business concepts and subjects specific to organizing gatherings. Event planning programs instruct students about project management, human resource supervision and finance. In addition, programs explore hospitality and restaurant management. Some programs also cover topics in employment and hospitality law. Students often learn about:

  • Employee supervision
  • Trade shows organization
  • Choosing sites for special events
  • Contracts
  • Wedding decor
  • Fundraising practices

Popular Career Options

Many graduates who earn an associate's degree in hospitality and tourism specialize in planning a particular type of event, such as weddings or trade shows, while others are more generalized in their practice. Graduates of meeting and event planning certificate programs can work for event planning agencies, restaurants or hotels. They can also find employment in corporate human resource departments. The careers listed below are popular options:

  • Catering specialist
  • Wedding planner
  • Special event advertising coordinator
  • Business conference planner
  • Non-profit organization fundraising event organizer
  • Travel agent

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The demand for event planners will be relatively high in the coming years; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of meeting, convention and event planners would increase 8% from 2019 to 2029. The job growth is faster than average and is attributed to a rising need for meetings and events as businesses expand globally. In May 2020, the BLS reported that the mean annual wage for meeting, convention and event planners was $55,890.

Continuing Education Information

People with a background in meeting and event planning often pursue further education in hospitality management. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in hospitality management teach the necessary skills needed for operating hotels, resorts, restaurants and travel agencies.

An associate's degree in hospitality and tourism or certificate program in event planning prepares aspiring event planners for entry-level positions. With an advanced degree--and experience--planners can seek out higher-level positions.

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