Bachelor's degrees specific to event planning are not typically available, but aspiring professionals can obtain a general bachelor's degree in hospitality and tourism, which often includes focused coursework in event management but allows for a broader range of job prospects. In some cases, students can take advantage of internship opportunities at facilities, such as major restaurants, hotels or tourism agencies. These degree programs equip students for employment as event planners in restaurants, hotels, event centers, banquet halls, and resorts. After earning work experience, individuals can pursue certification as a meeting planner.
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Bachelor's Degree in Event Planning
Bachelor's degree programs in hospitality and tourism cover a range of concepts such as communication skills, problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity. Other varied areas explored are behavioral science, marketing, and customer service. Course topics offered include:
- Hospitality marketing strategies and industry law
- Tourism and restaurant development
- Organizational behavior
- Planning for meetings, conventions and events
- Financial management
- Enterprise technologies and feasibility studies
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cites in its 2014-2015 reports that those who hold a hospitality management bachelor's degree have better employment opportunities in the industry (www.bls.gov). According to reports by the BLS, meeting, convention and event planners are expected to see a 10% growth in employment between 2014-2024. In 2015, meeting, convention and event planners made a mean annual wage of $51,200 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Those with a bachelor's degree in hospitality and tourism, or some variation thereof, may go on to seek a graduate degree in areas such as tourism administration. International tourism is a growing field, requiring the services of more educated experts in event management. Students who have completed a master's-level degree program might enter into leadership positions at hotels, airlines, event management centers, sport organizations and theme-attractions.
Professional event planners seeking industry certification might consider pursuing the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation. This credential is offered by the Convention Industry Council and requires degree-holding applicants to have three years of relevant work experience, pass an exam and fulfill continuing education or apprenticeship requirements.
Students who earn a bachelor's degree in event planning can go on to have successful careers in the hospitality and tourism industries. Specific course topics students will study include organizational behavior, financial management, and tourism and restaurant development.