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How Are Event Planners Paid?

by Forest Time

Event planners schedule and organize a variety of different types of get-togethers, ranging from formal conventions and business meetings to more personal events such as anniversary parties, birthday parties and weddings. Event planners often have a bachelor's degree related to hospitality or hospitality management. How and how much they are paid depends on factors such as who they work for and where they live.

Types of Payment

Event planners who are employed by hotels or other organizations are usually paid a salary. Planners who work as independent contractors are paid in other ways. According to event planning industry website MeetingsNet, many event planners charge a flat fee for an event. Others charge an hourly or daily fee for the work they put into an event. Of those who charge an hourly fee, MeetingsNet reports that about half charge rates that range between $50 and $100 per hour. Still others are paid a percentage based on the total cost of the event.

How Much They Are Paid

Regardless of how they are paid, event planners have an opportunity to make decent incomes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that meeting, convention and event planners earned an average income of $49,830 per year as of 2012. Half of event planners in the United States reported annual incomes between $34,930 and $60,280 a year. The top 10 percent of earners made $79,270 or more a year, while the bottom 10 percent made $26,560 or less. Those working for hotels reported an average annual salary of $45,650, while those employed by business and political organizations earned an average of $55,250 per year. Salaries for event planners working for schools and universities fell somewhere in the middle, at an average of $47,560 per year.

Geographical Pay Differences

Event planners in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic reported the highest average incomes to the BLS in 2012, while those in the Midwest tended to earn the least. Among the states and District of Columbia, event planners in D.C. earned the highest average wages at $67,120 per year. Massachusetts ranked second at $58,860 a year, followed by New Jersey at $57,730, New York at $57,300 and Virginia at $54,770. The lowest average rate of pay was reported in South Dakota, at $31,370 per year. The highest-paying metropolitan area was the Nassau-Suffolk area of New York, at $67,780 per year. Geographic income variations are partly the result of differences in the cost of living.

Job Outlook

Job prospects for event planners should be pretty robust in coming years. The BLS expects the number of jobs in the field to increase 44% from 2010 to 2020, which is more than three times the projected growth rate for all occupations. However, this occupation attracts many applicants, so aspiring event planners should prepare for competition when it comes to finding a job. The BLS reports that employers look favorably upon hospitality experience, a bachelor's degree related to hospitality, and the Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) credential, which can be obtained through the Convention Industry Council.

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