Certificate programs in event management may take only a few months to complete and offer training through a few courses that cover meeting planning essentials, such as types of meetings, catering and marketing. Two-year associate's and four-year bachelor's degree programs offer more in-depth instruction, as well as general education courses. Bachelor's degree programs may also cover hospitality administration in a variety of areas in addition to meeting planning, and students may be required to complete an internship. Many employers prefer meeting and event planners who hold a bachelor's degree.
Admission requirements for these programs generally include a high school diploma or GED. Bachelor's degree programs might also require students to submit SAT or ACT scores. Some programs and courses are available online.
Once students enter the job field and gain experience, they may qualify for professional certification.
Certificate in Event Management
An event management certificate program covers the essential responsibilities of meeting planners, including business meetings, conferences and other social or business functions. Such programs are sometimes tailored for administrative professionals who have meeting planning as a portion of their general responsibilities, but many are for those seeking to start jobs as professional meeting planners.
Certificate programs in event management generally consist of about seven courses that cover the fundamentals of planning different types of meetings and special events. Specific topics include:
- Event coordination
- Meeting and event funding
- Marketing events
- Risk management
- Catering and food management
Associate of Science in Meeting and Event Management
Students in an associate's degree program in meeting management are prepared to coordinate, plan and manage a wide range of events. Such programs generally include coursework similar to certificate programs, but they also include general education requirements in liberal arts.
Students of meeting and event management associate's degree programs take courses on the following topics:
- Meeting space and logistics
- General management
- Event coordination
- Logistics management
- Meeting sponsorship
Bachelor of Science in Tourism and Event Management
A baccalaureate degree program in tourism and event management incorporates training in meeting planning within a broader program that also prepares students to work in the hotel, lodging, dining, tourism and recreation therapy industries. Often, programs have different tracks available, allowing students to emphasize studies in tourism or pursue coursework specific to the meeting management profession.
As well as taking didactic courses, meeting management students are usually required to complete internships or on-the-job experiences. Specific classes may include:
- Special events management
- Program evaluation
- Travel and tourism
- Resort management
- Meetings and conventions
- Tourism planning and policy
Career Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of meeting, convention and event planners is expected to grow at a rate of 7% between the years of 2018 and 2028, which is faster than average (www.bls.gov). Those with bachelor's degrees are expected to have the best job prospects.
Salaries are widely varied, depending upon location and the amount of professional experience and educational credentials earned. Payscale.com listed the median salary for event planner assistants as $35,522 in 2019, while meeting, convention and event planners earned a median wage of $49,370 in 2018, according to the BLS.
Meeting planners may pursue the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) certification, which is administered by the Convention Industry Council. Such a designation requires current full-time employment in the field, three years of professional experience and demonstrated meeting planning success. An examination is required of applicants who meet the criteria.
Individuals interested in meeting planning may find the job market a friendlier place if they have completed a certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree program in the field, regardless of whether they're seeking education to enhance their existing job skills or start a new career in the hospitality and tourism industry.