Event Planner Career Overview
Event planners coordinate and manage conferences, meetings and parties. Aspiring event planners can benefit from a bachelor's degree in the field, but there are certificate programs available as well. The table below offers a general overview of the profession:
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree; certificate programs available|
|Degree Field(s)||Hospitality, communications, public relations, or a related field|
|Experience||Apprenticeships or internships help provide valuable experience|
|Key Skills||Communications, organization, delegation, collaboration. and customer service skills; attention to detail|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||11% growth (for meeting, convention, and event planners)*|
|Median Annual Salary (2018)||$49,370 (for meeting, convention, and event planners)*|
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Event Planning Degree and Education Requirements
A bachelor's degree in hospitality, communications, public relations, or a related field typically is needed to start a career as an event planner. Some hospitality programs offer a concentration in event planning. In these programs, students can expect to complete courses in special events marketing, facilities operations, media relations, and cost control strategies.
Professionals who have bachelor's degrees in another field might consider completing an event planning and management certificate program. Certification for meeting and convention planners can be found through the Events Industry Council, while the Society of Government Meeting Professionals offers certification that teaches about government regulations around event planning activities. Classes in these programs include risk management, event coordination, and professional ethics. Some programs allow students to specialize in wedding planning, while others feature courses for students interested in organizing sports and entertainment events.
Event Planner Skills and Experience
Perhaps, above all else, event planners must have phenomenal communication skills. They consult with clients to determine an event's purpose, estimated size, and budget. Since event planners often communicate with clients and vendors through e-mail, they must be able to clearly express themselves in writing. An understanding of contractual language may also prove useful, since planners frequently use contracts to protect both themselves and their clients.
Event planners must have excellent organizational skills. Planners regularly work with multiple clients simultaneously, so they must be able to keep the details of each individual client's needs separate and well-managed. The ability to work as a member of a team is also vital for success in this field. For example, event planners who work on large events may choose to hire trusted staff and delegate duties as needed.
To gain a client's trust, a planner usually needs to have previous experience planning similar events. Many planners develop this experience through internship programs or by planning events on campus as part of their undergraduate degree or certificate programs. Other planners develop experience by working as an apprentice or a support staff member for an established event planning firms before starting their own business.
Event Planner Career Outlook & Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that meeting, convention, and event planners could see an 11% increase in employment from 2016-2026. This was higher than the national average for other occupations. These workers made an average salary of $53,730 per year as of May 2018, according to the BLS.