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Event Planning: Requirements to Be an Event Planner

Event planners coordinate and manage conferences, meetings and parties. Some planners exclusively organize a specific type of event, such as those who specialize in wedding planning. Others may work with large corporate clients or smaller private groups. Many planners run their own businesses, while others may work for event planning agencies. Due to the nature of the work, many planners work long and irregular hours.

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Education Requirements

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there are no universal educational requirements needed to start a career as an event planner (www.bls.gov). Nevertheless, event planners need a certain set of skills, and one way they may be developed is by completing a bachelor's degree program in hospitality, communications or public relations. Some hospitality degree programs offer concentrations in event planning. In these programs, students can expect to complete courses in topics that include special events marketing, facilities operations, media relations and cost control strategies.

Professionals who have bachelor's degrees in other fields might want to consider completing an event planning and management certificate program. Common core classes in these programs include risk management, event coordination and professional ethics. Some programs allow students to specialize their education through courses specifically intended for wedding planning, while other programs may feature courses for students interested in careers organizing sports and entertainment events.

Career Requirements

Above almost all else, event planners must have phenomenal communication skills. They consult with clients to determine an event's purpose, estimated size and budget. Since event planners often communicate with clients and vendors through e-mail, they must be able to clearly express themselves in writing. An understanding of contractual language may also prove useful since planners frequently use contracts to protect both themselves and their clients.

Event planners must also have excellent organizational skills. Planners regularly work with multiple clients simultaneously, so they must be able to keep the details of each individual client's needs separate and well-managed. The ability to work as a member of a team is also vital for success in this field. For example, event planners who work on large events may choose to hire trusted staff and delegate duties as needed.

In order to gain a client's trust, a planner usually needs to have previous experience planning similar events. Many planners develop this experience through internship programs or by planning events on campus as part of their undergraduate degree or certificate programs. Other planners develop experience by working as an apprentice or a support staff member for well-established event planning firms before starting their own business.

Career Outlook

Event, meeting and convention planners could expect to see a 44% increase in employment from 2010-2020, reported the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This was much higher than the national average for other occupations. These workers made an average salary of $49,830 per year as of May 2012, according to the BLS.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics