How to Become a Certified Event Planner

Learn how to become a certified event planner. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in event planning.

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Do I Want to Be a Certified Event Planner?

Certified event planners are responsible for coordinating and managing all aspects of an event. They come from many different workforce and educational backgrounds, but they're typically bachelor's degree holders. Many planners start out in another job, such as a catering coordinator position. With appropriate education and experience, planners may go on to host larger events, such as conventions and corporate meetings. Long hours, including weekends, are often required. Event planners may face regular stress due to event deadlines.

Job Requirements

Event planners commonly have a bachelor's degree in fields such as public relations, marketing or hospitality management. Certifications for event planners are optional. The following table summarizes the core requirements for certified event planners:

Common Requirements
Degree Level A bachelor's degree is generally required*
Degree Field Hospitality management, marketing, public relations, communications and business are all appropriate majors*
Certification Voluntary certification is available to event planners*
Experience 1-2 years of experience may be required for non-hospitality management majors*
Key Skills Communication, customer-service, interpersonal, negotiation, problem-solving and organizational skills are needed*
Computer Skills Event planners should be savvy with online social media*; experience with Microsoft Excel and Access, as well as project management software, may be helpful**
Technical Skills Event planners may use videoconferencing equipment**
Additional Requirements The ability to stay composed under pressure is essential in this sometimes demanding and fast-paced profession; event planners may be required to work long and irregular hours*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET OnLine.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Most employers require event planners to hold a bachelor's degree. Event planners may come from a variety of educational backgrounds; acceptable fields of study for event planners include hospitality management, marketing, public relations and other related areas. Relevant coursework includes accounting, hospitality management and meeting management. Some schools offer programs of study specific to event and meeting planning. Students in these programs might study event promotion, computer skills for business and event design.

Success Tip:

  • Complete an internship. Some relevant programs may require students to complete internships. Internships help students gain hands-on experience in the field and acquire a greater understanding of the event planning process.

Step 2: Gain Planning Experience

Many event planners start out in another job or organization, planning smaller events, such as meetings and discussions. Administrative assistants, for example, may assume meeting planning responsibilities in addition to their normal duties. Aspiring event planners also may enter the field in related occupations, such as catering coordinator positions, to build experience and advance to a planner role.

Success Tips:

  • Become familiar with common computer programs. Event planners must have skill with multitasking and organizing large amounts of information and tasks. Project management software, as well as spreadsheet and database software, may be helpful in keeping event planners organized and on track with planning duties.
  • Join a professional organization. For individuals who wish to advance in the field of event planning, joining a professional organization, such as Meeting Professionals International (MPI), may be beneficial. Members of these organizations may find advantages such as networking opportunities, job search resources and webinars.

Step 3: Obtain Certification

Event planning certification designations may help candidates stand out to potential employers. The content in certification exams can vary according to event planning areas. One option is the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation exam. The CMP credential is available to convention, meeting and exhibition event planners. Prior to taking the certification exam, event planners must prove eligibility; three years of experience and recent employment in the field are necessary, as well as earning continuing education credits. Another certification that event planners may earn is the Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP) designation. Event planners who wish to earn this certification must qualify with experience and membership in the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP). Completion of a 3-day course and certification exam are also required.

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