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Where Do I Start If I Want to Become an Event Planner?

by William Henderson, studioD

Event planners coordinate all parts of an event, from sending out invitations and planning menus to organizing guest lists and choosing locations. Most customers and employers expect event planners, even beginners, to have the proper education, training and experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment opportunities for meeting, convention and event planners to grow by 44 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is much higher than the 14 percent projected growth rate for all occupations. This means there should be plenty of opportunity to turn your ability to organize into a lucrative career.

Personal Assessment

Before beginning a career as an event planner, you should make sure you have the skills and personality to succeed. You will need strong communication skills, the ability to work well under pressure on your own and with others, be customer-oriented and flexible, and able to negotiate prices and schedules. You should have an understanding of how to develop and meet a budget, be able to identify and resolve problems and be comfortable using computers and word processing and database software.

Education and Training

Earning a bachelor’s degree in hospitality, marketing, public relations or business administration can give you the educational background you need to succeed as an event planner. You can also get necessary training without earning a degree. The New York Institute of Art and Design, for example, can help you turn an interest in party planning into a career. It offers a 20-lesson course in wedding and event planning that covers creating guest lists, hiring vendors and designing events.

Build Experience

Prospective clients may put a premium on your years of experience. If you’ve never planned a major event, consider other things that can demonstrate your ability. For example, planning a friend’s birthday party, pitching in with a sibling’s wedding plans or organizing events at work can help you hone your skills and enhance your resume. You can also gain experience by finding a job that lets you plan smaller events, such as coordinating services for a caterer.

Marketing Strategy

Whether you’re looking to land your first or 20th job, you need to be able to market your skills and abilities as an event planner. You should develop an online presence that encompasses a website and also different types of social media platforms. You might even consider setting up a blog and posting photographs from events you’ve planned or including testimonials from satisfied customers. You should always carry business cards, since you never know when a chance to network will present itself.

Professional Certification

Earning certification, such as from the International Special Events Society, can bring industry credibility and help you land jobs that you otherwise may not get. Special events professional certification makes clear that you have the knowledge, skills and ability to plan and execute components of a special event. Novice event planners should keep in mind that a component of qualifying for this certification, and a prerequisite for sitting for the certification exam, is having at least three years of professional experience.

About the Author

William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.

Photo Credits

  • Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images