Become an Event Designer
Event designers, also known as event coordinators or planners, organize meetings, conferences and conventions, among other types of events. They meet with clients and manage all the logistics of an event, from transportation and catering to venue and décor. Meeting deadlines is an important part of this job. Event designers might need to travel. Long days and weekend work might be required. These professionals need strong organizational, problem-solving, communication, negotiation, customer service and interpersonal skills. They also should be familiar with graphic imaging and project management software in Microsoft Excel, Access, Outlook and Project, as well as public address systems and videoconferencing equipment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, meeting, convention, and event planners made a mean annual salary of $51,200 as of May 2015. Let's look at the step-by-step process to become an event designer.
Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Employers of event designers typically prefer candidates who have a bachelor's degree. A variety of different majors, such as marketing, business, or public relations, could lead to a career in event design. However, students might benefit most from majoring in hospitality management. Students in hospitality management programs usually take courses in conference planning, international tourism, public relations, hospitality law, and accounting. Though rare, specialized programs in event planning do exist and offer courses in subjects like event promotion, tradeshow operations, destination marketing, event services, and risk management.
Some relevant programs of study offer opportunities for students to complete hands-on work experiences, such as internships. Internships with hotels or convention centers provide students with chances to coordinate with sponsors and vendors, plan meetings, and manage event logistics.
Gain an Entry-Level Position
Event designers can enter the profession through lower-level positions with hotels, motels, tradeshow planning firms, large businesses, and various organizations. New hires are generally trained on the job, and they begin with routine tasks like scheduling and handling client services and maintaining records. They also might register guests and inspect facilities as well as promote conventions, conferences, and seminars.
Advance with Experience
Experienced event designers may take on advanced duties, such as selecting service providers, training volunteers, and obtaining permits for events. Advancement in this field typically requires demonstrating strong planning skills and determination, as well as gaining respect from other event design professionals. Some experienced designers specialize in a particular aspect of event planning, like booking speakers or training staff. Other designers become program coordinators, who take on responsibility for all aspects of an event. Eventually, some event designers go on to become executive directors or self-employed consultants.
Event designers can earn voluntary certification to spur advancement in the field. The Convention Industry Council offers the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation to candidates who have at least three years of current or recent experience in meeting planning and pass a certification exam. Applicants can also qualify with an acceptable amount of professional experience and education or with teaching experience.
Another option is the Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP) credential. This certification, offered by the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP), is specifically intended for event designers who work for state, local or federal government. After maintaining membership in the SGMP for six months and accruing one year of meeting planning experience, applicants may complete a three-day course and pass an exam to become certified.
In summary, an event designer typically needs to earn a bachelor's degree in hospitality management or a related field and gain experience through an entry-level position. Voluntary certification could lead to advanced opportunities in the field.