The events industry is exciting, ever-changing, and sociable. It is teeming with various career opportunities. Being an event planner, event manager, or event marketer is a difficult job that demands a lot of energy and knowledge, but many of us are drawn to it because it is – above all else – rewarding. But how does one prepare for a career in event planning?
Event planning is an umbrella term. Event profs can plan conventions, exhibitions, corporate events, meetings, fundraisers, weddings, and other events. Additionally, the up-and-coming events people can work in-house or for event agencies. Some choose to start their own companies once their network is big enough.
The events industry has changed dramatically in the past two years. As the technology sector within the industry grows, many planners are leaving traditional event planning for event technology jobs. They can also pivot to becoming event managers or event marketers.
Traditionally, many event planners started their careers working in hospitality (as assistants at hotels, for example) and gradually moved into management. Today, there are many ways to prepare for a career in event planning:
- Work on your soft skills,
- Get a degree,
- Get a certificate,
- Look for free content (webinars, podcasts, e-books, blogs),
- Work at events (as a volunteer),
- Build a strong network of event profs (join communities).
Curious to learn more about what degree or certificate to pursue and what soft skills to work on? Read on – this blog post is dedicated to up-and-coming event planners.
Prepare for a Career in Event Planning By Mastering These Soft Skills
Before we get into the formal education side, we have to acknowledge that event planners need to have a set of particular soft skills. Event planning is not for everybody; you need to have the right personality to enjoy it and be good at it.
Here are some soft skills for event planners to consider:
- Interpersonal skills and communication,
- Time management and effective problem-solving,
- Creativity and ability to think outside the box,
- Attention to detail (especially important for budgeting and signing contracts)
These soft skills help event planners manage everything that goes into event planning, for example choosing a venue, labor costs, attendee engagement, sponsorship opportunities, speaker management, and more. It’s a fast-paced work environment and it requires undivided attention.
Pursue A Degree In Relevant Fields
Some universities and colleges offer event management and event planning. Their curriculums typically consist of courses, such as experience design, event marketing, event financing, venue management, agreement negotiating, and more.
However, there are many ways to prepare for a career in event planning through formal education. Event planning is a viable career for those who study:
- PR or mass communications,
- Hospitality or hotel management,
- Business administration,
- Human resource management.
Consider Applying For Event Planning Certificates
Event planning certificates are less time-consuming and more affordable than university degrees. There are many renowned certificates on the market, each of them focusing on a different type of event or aspect of event planning. Many seasoned event profs hold several of these titles and include them in their LinkedIn profiles.
- DES (Digital Event Strategist) by PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association)
- CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional) by ILEA (International Live Events Association)
- CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) by EIC (Events Industry Council) – 250 + 475 (exam fee)
- CEM (Certified in Exhibition Management™) by IAEE (International Association of Exhibitions and Events)
- EDA (Event Data Analysis) by MPI (Meeting Professionals International)
- CMM (Certified Meeting Management) by MPI
- CQEP (Certified Quality Event Planner) by Management and Strategy Institute
- CTSM (Certified Trade Show Marketer) by Exhibitor Magazine
- CGMP (Certified Government Meeting Professional by SGMP (Society of Government Meeting Professionals)
- CPCE (National Association for Catering and Events) by NACE (National Association for Catering and Events)
- CAE (Certified Association Executive) by American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)
Online Courses, Blogs, & Other Free Content
The internet is teeming with online courses and on-demand content from and for event professionals. Event technology companies and event management companies regularly host free webinars.
Then, there are also e-books, whitepapers, and event industry blogs or podcasts that keep everybody on top of the most important event trends.
Experience The Best Way To Prepare For A Career In Event Planning
Many successful event planners didn’t plan on becoming one during their studies. Many of our #EventIcons guests say they ‘’fell into events’’. They did not fall into event planning by taking certificates, though. They worked events – in any capacity – and started building their careers from there.
Working or volunteering at events is one of the best ways to prepare for a career in event planning. You can see what events entail and if you enjoy the working environment.
Help plan events in your community (college events, non-profit events, music festivals, etc.), meet experienced event profs in your area, and create a portfolio of your experience.
Build A Powerful Network Of Event Profs
Networking is essential to success in any career, and even more so in the events industry. Future event planners need to build strong relationships, so potential clients or employers might think of them the next time they’re looking for somebody with their skillset.
Additionally, a young professional’s network is a treasure trove of ideas and knowledge. Do not just network for your own benefit. The ultimate goal of networking should be the professionals you meet and being embedded in a supportive community.
But how do you get started?
- Add event professionals on LinkedIn and introduce yourself in the request to connect,
- Participate in online communities and social media groups for event profs,
- Find networking events or events for young professionals in the events industry,
- Make a personal connection with as many event planners and marketers as possible when working on events.
How To Prepare For A Career In Event Planning: Get Started
There is no one sure way to prepare for a career in event planning or event management. While a degree in mass communications, event management, marketing, and other relevant fields might help you get a foot through the door, it is not in itself a guarantee you will succeed in the events industry. The same goes for certifications. Nevertheless, they are a great way to get acquainted with relevant industry trends and thought leaders.
What matters most when it comes to a career in event planning is networking and getting hands-on experience. Event managers need to be creative multi-taskers who handle stress well and always put their clients first. Whether you pursue formal education or not, you should really consider working events in your local community. Build a portfolio that will eventually help you get a job in event planning or event management.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in April 2014 by Kaitlin Colston. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.