When an organization decides to hold a convention, meeting or a similar event, it's necessary to coordinate all the conditions involved so that the event comes off as smoothly as possible. You can obtain training and certifications that enable you to facilitate those desired results.
A certified meeting planner holds professional certification in meeting or event planning. They are responsible for evaluating the needs of their clients then booking sites and coordinating the details of the meeting or convention. These professionals often hold bachelor's degrees in marketing, hospitality or event management and may complete regular continuing education as they advance in their careers. Certification is available through the Convention Industry Council and The Society of Government Meeting Professionals.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Certification||Multiple optional certifications available, including the Certified Meeting Planner and Certified Government Meeting Professional|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||10% for all meeting, convention and event planners*|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)||$46,840 for all meeting, convention and event planners*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Educational and Certification Requirements for Meeting Planners
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Certified meeting planners organize business meetings and conventions. They evaluate the needs of their clients, search for meeting sites and coordinate details, such as food service and supplies. Meeting planners may also register attendees and provide transportation and lodging options.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many employers now prefer to hire meeting planners who hold a bachelor's degree. Some schools offer degree programs that allow students to major in meeting planning or event management. Other suitable degree majors include business, marketing, communications or hospitality management.
Some schools offer certificate programs in meeting management for those who don't want to earn a bachelor's degree or hold a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field. These programs require completion of a series of courses on meeting planning and may also require students to obtain on-the-job training through a practicum.
Another option for those who want formal education in meeting planning is to take continuing education courses through community colleges, universities and professional associations. These courses vary in length and cost, but can help current meeting planners improve their skills and train newcomers to the industry. The BLS noted that completion of continuing education courses may lead to career advancement.
In addition to completing a degree or certificate program, some meeting planners choose to obtain professional certification from an established professional association. Earning certification can sometimes increase the number of job opportunities available to meeting planners.
Convention Industry Council
The Convention Industry Council issues the Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) credential. Candidates for CMP certification must document their professional experience and education and then pass a comprehensive examination.
The Society of Government Meeting Professionals
The Society of Government Meeting Professionals offers the Certified Government Meeting Professional credential to those who want to provide meeting planning services for government agencies. To obtain certification, a candidate must demonstrate experience as a meeting planner, complete a training course and pass an exam.
Job Prospects and Salary Information
According to the BLS, job prospects for meeting, convention and event planners were expected to grow 10% from 2014-2024 due to the expansion of companies' domestic and international operations. This predicted growth was much faster than the national average. The median annual salary for a convention, meeting or event planner was $46,840 as of May 2015.
The most common requirement for individuals interested in becoming a meeting planner is a bachelor's degree in the field, but a certificate in event planning may suffice if the individual's degree is in another area. In addition, employers may accept 1-2 years of industry experience in lieu of the appropriate undergraduate degree. Though professional certification is technically optional, it is advisable.