How to Become an Event Planner

This article provides in-depth information into What is an Event Planner? What Event Planner do? Degrees for Event Planner, Steps to become Event Planner and much more.


What is an Event Planner?

Every detail given to a special event - say, a birthday party, or a business meeting, or a governmental event - are all placed with good planning and intentions. Some folks can’t do this because their hands would be too full with other priorities and commitments. This is why we hire Event Managers.

Event Managers meet with a prospective client to discuss what the event is going to be about, what their goals are, how they would like it organized at an appointed time and location, and decide how influential the planner will be throughout the process so that the Event Manager may execute these plans and manage the events smoothly and according to the client’s expectations and satisfaction.

Steps to be an Event Planner

Pursue Higher Education

Professional event planners leave a mark in the industry if they are identified to specialize in the field. Pursuing an education on event planning and management can bolster your chances of breaking into the industry and offer you a certain level of trust from your clients and vendors. 

When it comes to event managers, as the name suggests, managerial work is what the core aspect is. So a degree in management studies can go a long for aspiring planners. It also wouldn’t hurt to learn a bit about the business itself, and maybe even some of the technologies involved in industries where software is prevalent. As technology rises, so does digitalization, so it can be beneficial to planners if they know about the fundamentals.

If you want to work in an event planning firm, then a bachelor’s degree in any management program is necessary.

Volunteer for entry-level work

Getting a degree certification is incredible. But the next aspect is more important: Getting experience. This is universally given more attention to in any company of any industry. Volunteering for managing events, ceremonies, and meetings helps highlight your resume to be prominent among many other candidates who may lack that experience.

It’s also a brilliant opportunity to shadow experts who are in charge of relevant responsibilities such as administrative assistance, catering, estate management, hotel management, convention and event management, and so on.

Maintain a portfolio

For each event or meeting you have experience managing, you must add to your portfolio and help it to grow. Your portfolio can include event photographs, publishing clippings, brochures, and testimonials. It is also important to talk about your responsibilities and roles in the event, and go into detail on the challenges you faced, how you overcame them, what directions were taken to balance between budget and quality of service and the effects of working under pressure.

Salary / Job Growth

Salary

Most Event Managers work full-time. Crunch time is also possible if they are involved in major events, which may include weekends and additional hours. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage in May 2018 was around $49,370.

The following are the median annual wages in accordance to other industries:

  • Business Operations Specialists: $67,120

  • Administrative & Support Services: $52,370

  • Religious Events, Grantmaking and Professional Organizations: $50,990

  • Accomodation and Food Catering Services: $45,140

  • Arts, Entertainment and Recreation: $42,500

Job Growth

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment rates will grow by 7% between 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average employment rate among all other careers. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in meeting and event management, hospitality or tourism management should have the best opportunities.

If the economy is affected, opportunities for corporate planners are affected the most, and budget cuts are also made for events and meetings. Idaho, Connecticut and California have some of the highest paid Event Managers, and are still in high demand in these locations.

Types of Degrees

It’s generally ideal among candidates to pursue a Bachelor’s and then proceed to making a career in their lives out of it. However, these programs are all available from short-term certification courses to the uncommon doctorate programs. Each of the following programs have 

Hospitality and/or Tourism Management

Simply put, hospitality and tourism management is all about applying your leadership skills in areas where accomodation, dining, and other services are presented to the customers. Courses related to hospitality or tourism covers a broad range of skills that candidates will use to prepare themselves for careers in services such as travel and tourism, hotel and foods, accommodation and so on. Some of the common topics they will explore are:

  • Budget and Finances

  • Quality of Service

  • Food Service Management

  • Communication and Conflict Management

  • Tourism Research

  • Tourism Personnel Management

Marketing or Public Relations

Public Relations

Candidates must realize that in order to gain followers and buyers, they have to retain a good reputation for their event management business. Public Relations plays a crucial role in establishing a favourable public image for the Event Managers, and is applicable to media, social media, and other forms of communication, especially since an event manager’s go-to mantra is networking.

Depending on the degree chosen, candidates will explore topics in specific depths, such as:

  • PR Writing and Management
  • Digital Production
  • Strategic Planning and Communications
  • Media Studies
  • Corporate Planning and Communications

 Marketing

Candidates will understand the fundamentals of marketing to use in their careers as Event Managers. They will understand the process of identifying and satisfying the needs of a client, and use those needs to attract other similar customers. Without marketing your services to the general public, there won’t be any gain in interest or profit from your clients.

Even though Public Relations and Marketing both share a few similar traits, ultimately it is their focus that keeps them different. Public Relations focuses on building the event planner’s image and promoting client relationships.

Marketing deals with approaches to promoting and selling services.

It is imperative for an Event Manager to know the fundamentals of both these business aspects to make efficient use of it to make their services known.

Candidates will cover topics in important areas: 

  • Human Relations
  • Business Law & Finance
  • B2B Marketing
  • B2C Marketing
  • Retailing
  • International Marketing
  • Strategic Advertising
  • Enterprise Marketing Management

 Communications

Communications and Media Management is essentially all about the processes and methods used to communicate an idea or a piece of information in fields that require public attention in an effective, concise and approachable manner. Generally, Event Managers are marketing strategists who use their communication and networking skill set to announce events in multiple platforms that help it gain attention from interested parties.

During your stint as a communications student, you will learn some of the fundamental topics such as:

  • Broadcasting

  • Visual Communication

  • Media Ethics and Technology

  • Written and Video Journalism

  • Web Design

  • Public Speaking

Business

Event Managers, in essence, will be running a business of managing events. This involves planning and executing strategies for operations that involve bringing socialites and other people related to the client together, and communicating with the team in order to carry the event out smoothly. Learning about business management can open a lot of doors for an Event Manager. You will be trained in advertising and manufacturing products and adopting hospitality and approachability towards your prospective clients.

Some of the other topics include:

  • Business Fundamentals

  • Finance

  • Accounting

  • Marketing

  • Advertising

  • Organizational Behaviour

Educational Concentrations

Accounting

Event Managers will be learning a lot about income statements, balance sheets, cash flows and other financial aspects of an event. This is important to know because event planners can then judge what approach to take when first planning out an event for a client. Allocating budget to maintain consistency with the client’s vision is one of the foremost priorities a planner should keep in mind.

Hospitality and Meeting Management

Event Management is a career that is solely catering to what the client wants to achieve in their social events. Which means that the planner must be hospitable in all turns. They will regulate social events or meetings, maintain the decorum and ambience, and keep the guests’ moods enlightened with small but engaging events.

Event Promotions

Event Managers utilize different marketing strategies, platforms, and channels to publicize the activity of an event and drive its registration. The tactics used to make this happen are called promotions. A planner must have comprehensive knowledge as well as the creativity to pull this off, hence it’s one of the most beneficial topics to explore during their candidacy in an educational program.

Event Design

Event Managers can be responsible for designing every aspect of an event - from the brochures and the invitations to the decor and activities - all of which are means to elevate the moods of the people involved, including the client’s. Candidates will be taken through the process of creating such design, the good practices behind them and how design can be important in setting an image and a respectable scheme among the attendants.

Computer Skills for Business

Today, almost every career requires at least fundamental knowledge on technology, especially technology involved in a specific industry. Although automation is still an early form of technology in consumeristic industries, it gives one an edge to understand how it works as it slowly creeps into every professional career.

Spreadsheets, database software, collaboration tools, data visualization, and social media are some forms of technology that one would expect an event planner to have in-depth knowledge about. It’s a large advantage you can have if your rival planners are struggling with it.

Career Concentrations

Many opportunities related to Event Management pop up constantly in almost any industry, making it a rather lucrative and secure career for those willing to pursue it.

Event planner

They are responsible for making critical decisions that determine the basic aspects of an event (who, what, where, and how). They communicate these plans to other event managers who use it to execute the plans. They will also meet up with other clients to understand the purpose for holding events, request budgets and bids for it, and oversee all activities to ensure satisfaction among the attendants.

Event coordinator

An event coordinator may take the plans created by an event planner and focus on executing them under the supervision of a higher management, ensuring satisfaction among guests and the client. They will also control the events from conceptualization by the event planner to handling the clean-up crew after the event’s end. They will also heavily participate in managerial aspects such as catering organization, client entertainment and staff overview. They will also keep the financial aspects satisfied, such as salaries and payments made to vendors and caterers for their services.

Career Preparations

Attend Networking Events

Understandably, it’s difficult to start off networking with people spontaneously. But aspiring Event Managers are in luck as there are different organizations or meet-up groups made especially to tackle this problem. There are two organizations in which Event Managers may partake in organizations and associations such as;

  • National Association of Event Planners

  • International Association of Exhibitions and Events

  • Wedding International Professionals Association

  • PCMA

  • Academic Event Professional

  • Meeting Professionals International

  • International Live Events Society

Through them, aspiring Event Managers  will find it much easier to network and meet possible connections and mentors to learn from. It may also give them the opportunity to grow, which may not be possible in the initial stages of their careers, via seminars, webinars, and dedicated programs.

Earn a certification

Earning a certification isn’t necessary. But it does help in increasing an Event Manager’s legitimacy and trust among their contacts. An Event Management candidate may take up one of the certifications below:

Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)

This certification is awarded to those who want to excel in convention, meeting and exhibition Event Management. As a requirement, candidates must have at least 6 months of experience, and must have details on their most recent and relevant employment on their portfolio. Satisfying these will allow them to take up an examination which, if they pass, will award them with this certification.

This certification is possibly the most well-known certification that event planners usually go for.

Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP)

This caters to Event Managers who want to specialize in federal, state or local government events. The candidate will take up a 3-day course and then sit for an examination to test their knowledge and skills on it. Candidates excelling in it will be awarded with the CGMP certificate.

Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP)

Candidates take this certification up if they want to solely focus on professional development. They will need at least a year’s worth of experience in the field of event management, and sit for a 3-day course and do an examination, but not before they provide verification on their active 6-month membership with the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP).

Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE)

Candidates wanting to get into hospitality services can take up this certification, which capitalizes on catering, hospitality and events organization. They will sit for a single examination, which, if they pass, will reward them with the certification. Out of the rest of the certifications, this one is the most lenient in regards to requirements.

Obtain a License

It can be tempting to go solo as an Event Manager. With the right mindset, solid connections, and a good budget, this can be made possible. However, it is mandatory to obtain a license in their respective state. Obtaining a license in one state will most likely not necessitate that you may operate as one in another. Licenses are not necessary if or when you are joining an event management firm or organization, but only if you are building your own business.

Prominent Skills as an Event Planner

Organizational

Event Managers will need a sharp eye for attention, must remember the smallest details about the event and must take full responsibility for possible errors or failures made in the events. They must also keep timelines and budget in check and make sure everything that is part of their checklist is being fulfilled according to the client’s satisfactions.

To add to that, Event Managers must be energized individuals excelling in multi-tasking skills, meeting deadlines and mitigating any hurdles along the way without feeling discouraged.

Shrewd Networkers

Keeping many contacts is one of the predominant aspects of being an Event Manager. With that comes communication skills such as negotiating service contracts and quality product, asking for additional budget, and service security. This can be beneficial to enhancing the experience of the events that event managers put up.

Adaptability

Plans don’t go accordingly all the time, so it’s realistic to expect that some things are out of the Event Manager’s control. But with adaptability and improvisation, it’s possible to lessen, if not eliminate, those moments. An Event Manager must always remain vigilant for any possible disruptions or issues that may occur from many factors such as management, client satisfaction, atmosphere, etc so that they may step in and take immediate action.

Creativity

Event Managers are designers of an event. They will decide what each component will do and how they will play out during the course of the event. This demands a lot of creativity from their side, as a dull event can bore the guests and exudes the feeling of emptiness. It is also expected from an Event Manager to be a good problem solver. Issues can arise from poor management, which are perfect moments for an Event Manager to utilize their creative thought processes to solve problems and mitigate those issues.

Professionalism

Event Managers must keep a calm mind when organizing events, even if it seems a bit overwhelming. Maintaining composure if the client is unhappy, or if the team is not co-operating, or if the plan itself is starting to divert are some examples of moments where an Event Manager may, understandably, find difficulty dealing with. But it’s imperative that they stick by their promises of professionalism and dedication to getting their managerial aspects right.

Event Planner Salaries

Event Planner