How to become a corporate event planner

learn how to become an event planning

Think back to the last “big” event you attended, whether it was a giant corporate holiday party, a convention for work, or an educational conference.

If the event went as planned, it should have been a seamless experience with a perfectly tailored itinerary, a realistic schedule of events, and a general feeling of organization.

These big events may seem “effortless,” but there’s a lot of work that goes into planning them.

This is especially true for events that last multiple days and require many working parts, such as conventions, seminars, and corporate retreats.

Most of the time qualified professionals are called in to use their knowledge and expertise to plan events that captivate, inspire, and help businesses and individuals reach their goals.

These professionals are known as event planners.

What is an event planner?

Meeting, convention, party and event planners are individuals with experience planning all sorts of events, both big and small. While some event planners focus on specific affairs such as conferences or conventions, others offer a broader range of services.

Typically, these workers are charged with coordinating every detail of an event or party, including aspects such as coordinating vendors like the caterer, video, audio and photography, décor, travel plans, timeline, itinerary, and budget. Some event planners work on their own while others work as part of a team.

Since much of the work these professionals do is for individual clients, many event planners have the flexibility to run their businesses on a freelance basis out of their homes. However, also keep in mind that large corporations that host many events may keep an event planner on staff.

Depending on the scope of the work they do, some event planners also need to travel as part of their employment. This could include travel to potential sites for a  or convention, but it very often includes traveling to meet with potential clients as well.

What kind of tasks do event planners do?

Since many event planners focus on a specific type of function (i.e. s, conventions, professional meetings, etc.), the type of work they do can vary.

I’m sure you can imagine how different the work of a corporate meeting planner and a planner would be on any given day. In many ways, the type of events being planned determines much of the work that needs to be done.

Still, the fact that these professionals organize events means that many of their job duties are similar. Some of the tasks event planners of all types complete regularly include:

  • Meet with clients and/or employers to learn about the type of event they want to plan
  • Discuss budget requirements for each event
  • Create a budget for events planned and ensuring all funds are put to good use
  • Plan room décor and an overall “theme” for events in some cases
  • Visit venues and meeting with vendors
  • Create itineraries and planning schedules
  • Booking and arranging travel for event participants
  • Arrange for and receive bids from vendors

Multi-day events often add another layer of work for event planners. Not only do they have to plan each day’s activities, but they have to think through other details such as hotels, transportation and morning and evening entertainment.

What skills do you need to be an event planner?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many event planners have a bachelor’s degree, though that certainly is not required, as workplace experience in hospitality or a related field is very valuable in this industry.

The best event planners are usually considered “the best” because they tend to have seen it all. They have encountered every perceivable problem over the years so they know how to plan events that aren’t prone to common issues. With a ton of experience under their belts, many well-seasoned event planners also know how to spot problem clients or vendors and create backup plans that can help their events go off without a hitch.

While certification isn’t necessary, earning advanced credentials can help you stand out against your competition.

You can pick up the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential as a meeting and convention planner, for example. If you plan government meetings and events, on the other hand, the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP) offers the Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP) designation that you may want to look into. Additional certifications for event planners that focus on s are offered through the American Association of Certified  Planners and the Association of Certified Professional  Consultants.

Some personality traits can also make for an excellent event planner. For example, event planners need to have an excellent eye for detail since there are so many details involved in planning an event and getting everything right. Event planners also need great communication skills since they’ll need to effectively communicate with clients, vendors, and participants in each event.

Event planners also need to be able to negotiate since they’ll be dealing with vendors and budgets, as well as their vendor’s budgets. Problem-solving and organizational skills are also paramount in this career since planning events requires many decisions and a knack for planning itineraries and schedules that are organized and not hurried.

It is also critical to be able to maintain and manage a budget.

How much do event planners earn?

The BLS reports that, as of May 2017, meeting, convention, and event planners earned a median annual wage of $48,290. However, the most successful professionals — or the top 10% in this field — earned wages closer to $82,980. Many top corporate event planners earn in the multiple $100,000s, and charge more than $200 per hour.

Event planning jobs >>

Pros and cons of working as an event planner

Event planning can be a truly exciting field, and it’s one where the scenery and challenges can change all the time. But, that doesn’t mean this job is perfect — and it’s not even close.

Before you consider becoming an event planner, consider both the pros and the cons:

Advantages of becoming an event planner:

  • Get the chance to work in an always changing, dynamic environment
  • You can use your creative energy and skills
  • You can help your clients plan their “dream events”
  • Many workers in this field do freelance work, meaning you could be your own boss
  • You may get the opportunity to travel and/or meet interesting people

Disadvantages of becoming an event planner:

  • You may need to travel when you don’t want to
  • Pay is not exceptionally high for a career that requires a bachelor’s degree
  • This career may be exciting, but it can also be stressful since there are so many working parts to get right
  • This job could be a nightmare if you’re not good with details or negotiation — or difficult people

How do you learn to become an event planner?

Many colleges and online colleges let you complete event planning and hospitality management degree programs at home, and at your own pace.

The most powerful thing you can do to secure a career in event planning is get experience. If you have none, seek out a job as an assistant to an event planner. Volunteer to run (or help run) events for non-profits or other organizations’ events. Even organizing your company’s holiday party is a resume-builder.

Whatever you do, make sure you are able to gain some valuable experience and insights into how the event planning space works and experience you can showcase to future clients and employers. With some experience under your belt, you’ll be in a much better position to find the job you want.

Where do you find event planning jobs?

If you feel you’re ready to get started in this career, you’ll want to update your LinkedIn page and resume to reflect the right set of skills. Make sure to underscore your event planning experience first and foremost, along with any experience you have with organization, budgeting, and finance.

Make sure to check out job boards such as CareerBuilder and Indeed.com, as well as searching for jobs that may be posted on LinkedIn.

Another popular strategy to try involves creating a profile on FlexJobs.com. This website connects talented professionals with employers who want to hire remote workers in their respective fields.

While you’ll encounter other types of flexible work on the platform, FlexJobs.com is the perfect platform to find an event planning job you can do from home.

Find event planning jobs >>

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holly johnson money writer
Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson is a financial expert, award-winning writer, and Indiana mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting and travel. Her personal finance articles have been published in the U. S. News, Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, and Life Hacker. Holly is founder of of the family finance resource, ClubThrifty.com, and is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love. Learn more about Holly here.

About Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson is a financial expert, award-winning writer, and Indiana mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting and travel. Her personal finance articles have been published in the U. S. News, Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, and Life Hacker. Holly is founder of of the family finance resource, ClubThrifty.com, and is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love. Learn more about Holly here.

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