Event planners are responsible for coordinating meetings, conventions and special events, such as weddings and fundraisers. Event planning is often considered a glamorous and exciting occupation, but the event planner job can also be challenging and arduous, with long hours and demanding clients.
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The job title of event planner is sometimes known in the industry as meeting and convention planner. The qualifications for event planner jobs can vary depending on the size and scope of the events being planned. Some experience is almost always required. Professional certification is available from various industry organizations and clubs.
Event Planner Job Responsibilities
The U.S. Department of Labor puts the occupation of event planner under the category of Meeting and Convention Planners. An event planner’s job is to coordinate gatherings of groups of people to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience. The types of events can range from small corporate lunches, to elaborate weddings, to huge, international media events. Event planning jobs can be small, one- or two-person operations, or large, multi-branched organizations, or any size in between.
Regardless of the scope of the business, event planners are expected to be well connected to related industry business partners such as caterers, florists, musicians, venue operators and event rental companies. Planners are responsible for administrative duties as well as for relating to customers and clients on a personal basis.
The event planner must listen to clients to assess their special event needs, and execute the requirements completely and to their complete satisfaction. Event planners are expected to craft detailed event plans and make presentations of their proposals for client approval. Planners will secure the venue; assign appropriate vendors and employees to work the event; coordinate talent, catering, and media; oversee the gathering as it takes place, and ensure the venue is not damaged or compromised in any way upon exit.
An event planner job can be part time or full time. Overtime is common. Hours can be irregular and long. Weekends, late nights and early-morning hours are common.
Event Planner Training and Education Requirements
It takes a good deal of experience working around weddings, meetings and conventions before one can be classified as a professional event planner. Inexperienced applicants will likely need some related background education, and newcomers will most certainly be supervised initially by more experienced events professionals.
A good way to learn to be an event planner is to assist a wedding caterer or to work in the hospitality department of an events center for a year or two. Quick learners can usually experience rapid advancement and increasing responsibility.
There is no minimum education requirement for those seeking an event planner job, however professional event planners must develop an excellent understanding of the food and beverage industry, as well as the methodology of hospitable service. A bachelor’s degree in Hotel/Motel Management is highly desirable. Certificate courses and associate degrees in Hospitality and/or Catering are also particularly relevant, as are Culinary courses.
Other helpful college-level preparation would include Business, Public Relations and Management.
Event Planner Salary and Wages
Since many event planners work independently, the salary range often depends on the ambition and drive of the individual planner. Recent national estimates for the occupation of event planner, or meeting and convention planner, set the median (50%) earnings at approximately $45,000 annual, or $21.53 per hour. The lowest percentile (10%) can expect to earn around $27,500, or $13.25 per hour. The highest percentile (90%) earn approximately $75,000, or $36.14 per hour. The outlook for event planners is currently positive.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Event Planner Certifications
Although a certificate is not required for employment, professional event planner certification can add value to the job seeker’s resume. Certification is usually in the field of event management or convention and meeting planning.
A certificate can sometimes partially replace the requirement of previous experience. A meeting planner certificate can assist an entry level applicant to advance more rapidly to the job of event planner, or may be a designated title granted by a professional organization.
One such certifying organization for seasoned event planning professionals is The Convention Industry Council (CIC).
The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) offers a certification known as the CMP Exam (Convention Management Professional Exam) that is recognized by the CIC. It also offers training for meeting and event planners.
Event Planner Professional Associations
Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is the largest association for event and meeting planners, with chapters and clubs across the U.S and many other countries. It offers global training, webinars and other professional development tools.
The previously mentioned CIC is dedicated to advancing the industries of conventions, meetings, exhibitions and events. Membership is open only to practicing professionals and requires several years of professional experience and a qualifying evaluation by the board.
The PCMA, on the other hand, offers several levels of membership, including affordable Student and Associate levels. It offers a certification known as the CMP Exam, or Convention Management Professional Exam, as well as support for novice and career professional event planners.