From weddings and Bar Mitzvahs to corporate banquets and professional meetings, event planners coordinate all of the details involved in hosting an event. They utilize their organizational skills and eyes for detail to help clients turn their visions for an event into a reality. Event planning is a fast-growing career, and serious candidates should possess both formal education and experience to secure employment in the field.
Salary and Career Outlook
The overall career outlook for event planners is positive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, predicted in 2010 that job opportunities in event planning will rise 44 percent by 2020; much faster than the job growth rate for most other professions. The BLS attributes the rise in demand for event planners to the continued internationalization of companies and organizations who rely on meetings and conventions to bring their employees together. On average, event planners earn an average of $45,000 per year, with the highest earners working for businesses and professional organizations and the lowest earners working for hotels.
In order to stand out to potential employers, individuals interested in event planning should possess a bachelor's degree, at minimum. Recommended areas of study include hospitality, marketing, business or communications. Some hospitality programs offer specialization in event planning. Colleges and universities may also offer event management certificate programs through their continuing education departments that can be earned as an alternative or in addition to a bachelor's degree. Event management programs provide aspiring planners with courses in event coordination, entertainment, fundraising and decor.
Training and Experience
Hands-on training is essential for any aspiring planner, as real-world experience helps them build upon skills learned in class and develop new skills while working alongside seasoned professionals. Training opportunities are available through internships. Internships are typically unpaid opportunities in which an aspiring planner works short-term for an event planning company or self-employed planner. These opportunities could lead to long-term employment opportunities once the internship is over. Alternatively, an aspiring event planner could gain training by working in an entry-level position related to event management. For instance, working as a catering coordinator or assistant planner would provide such experience. The BLS states that many employers prefer applicants who have 1 to 2 years of relevant work experience, especially if they hold a degree in a field other than hospitality.
Certification is not required to work as an event planner, but many employers prefer candidates who have obtained voluntary professional certification. For example, the Convention Industry Council offers the Certified Meeting Professional credential, which requires candidates to pass a written exam and provide proof of experience in the planning industry. Earning this certification could help an event planner establish her professionalism and secure employment.
Event planners are essentially in charge of all aspects of planning formal events. They help clients choose when and where to host events, and secure the venue rental for the agreed-upon date and time. They work with vendors to provide catering and other services, and help organize menus, invitations and seating charts. They also develop timelines for events, and supervise to ensure that the event follows the correct sequence of events. Event planners may also be in charge of choosing decorations for the event.
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