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Event Manager: Job Outlook & Career Requirements

Read on to learn what event managers do. Get details about required education and training. See what the career prospects are, and decide if this field is right for you.

Career Definition for an Event Manager

An event manager plans special events for organizations, such as corporations, nonprofits, and academic institutions. They may rent space for parties and seminars, hire and supervise event staff, purchase and rent equipment, and negotiate contracts with caterers, entertainers, and speakers. They often interact with top management and various departments of an organization during event planning stages, and may also conduct follow-up interviews to determine whether or not the event accomplished its goals.

Some event managers specialize in coordinating and hosting online events, such as webinars and training sessions. Event managers may work as independent contractors or full-time staff members of companies, universities, hotels, and convention centers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts faster-than-average job growth for professions related to event management throughout the next several years.

Education Bachelor's degree in marketing or business administration; experience in event planning or conference management
Job Duties Plan special events, rent space for the events, hire and supervise staff, purchase and rent equipment, negotiate contracts, interact with top management and various departments
Median Salary (2018)* $49,370 (meeting, convention and event planners)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 11% (meeting, convention and event planners)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Event management professionals often have a bachelor's degree in a field such as marketing or business administration, in addition to several years of experience in event planning or conference management. Many also have experience in the hospitality industry or fundraising. Membership in professional organizations, such as the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), may also enhance job and networking opportunities (www.pcma.org).

Skills Required

Event managers must be detail-oriented and highly organized with excellent written and verbal communication skills. They must be able to hire and supervise event staff, negotiate contracts, meet deadlines, and manage budgets. Event managers must have strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work with all levels of management, make presentations, and lead meetings. Strong computer skills, and proficiency with word processing, database, and spreadsheet programs are essential.

Economic and Career Outlook

The BLS predicts 11% job growth for meeting, convention, and event planners, which would include event management professionals, through the 2016-2026 period. Many event managers gain experience by starting out as event planners. In May 2018, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for meeting, convention and event planners was $49,370 (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Similar career choices within this field include:

Administrative Services Manager

An administrative services manager runs one or more of a company's or organization's support services; sample job titles include facilities manager or records administrator. Tasks can include budgeting, goal-setting, supervising employees, negotiating contracts, and interacting with other department managers to ensure organizational needs are met.

Employers may require a high school diploma or a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, like business or engineering, and work experience in areas like purchasing or transportation. Professional certification can be earned through the International Facility Management Association. Between 2016 and 2026, administrative services managers can expect job growth of 10%, which is faster than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS. Median pay was $96,180 for this job in 2018, per the BLS.

Travel Agent

A travel agent is paid to make travel, accommodations, and events arrangements for clients. Travel agents use their training and expertise to advise clients on places to go, where to stay, and things to do within their budget and travel preferences. Some travel agents may work for corporate clients while others work for consumers, planning individual or group trips.

Travel agents may have a high school diploma or postsecondary travel and tourism education through a vocational or community college program; they also complete on-the-job training. Industry certifications are available, and in some states, travel agents must hold a business license. According to the BLS, jobs for travel agents are expected to decline by 12% between 2016 and 2026; those who specialize, such as in trips for senior citizens, are expected to fare best. Travel agents earned median pay of $38,700 in 2018, per the BLS.


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