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How to become an event planner

If you have a passion for organizing and a flair for creativity, a career as an event planner might be a perfect fit for you. Event planners are professionals responsible for conceptualizing, coordinating, and executing a wide range of events, from weddings and corporate conferences to festivals and trade shows. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps to become an event planner, including salary expectations, certifications, job market outlook, licensing and academic requirements, top universities for event planning courses, and the list of countries with the highest paying salaries for event planners.

Job market outlook

Image for part: Job market outlook

The events industry plays a significant role in various sectors, including corporate, social, entertainment, and nonprofit, driving the demand for skilled event planners to plan and execute a wide range of events. The employment outlook for meeting, convention, and event planners indicates a significant growth of 18 percent from 2021 to 2031, which is considerably higher than the average for all occupations. On average, approximately 16,600 job openings for meeting, convention, and event planners are projected each year over the decade. These openings will be driven by the necessity to replace workers who transition to other professions or leave the workforce, including retirement.

What is the job of an event planner

The job of an event planner is to conceptualize, organize, and execute various types of events, ensuring they run smoothly and successfully. Event planners are responsible for managing all aspects of an event, from initial planning and budgeting to on-site coordination and post-event evaluations. Their ultimate goal is to create memorable and seamless experiences for clients and attendees. Here are the key tasks and responsibilities of an event planner;

  1. Client Consultation: Event planners begin by meeting with clients to understand their event objectives, budget, vision, and specific requirements. They gather all necessary information to create a customized event plan.
  2. Event Conceptualization: Based on the client's vision and objectives, event planners develop creative concepts and themes for the event. They brainstorm ideas for decorations, entertainment, and activities that align with the event's purpose.
  3. Venue Selection: Event planners research and identify suitable venues for the event, considering factors such as capacity, location, amenities, and cost. They negotiate contracts with venues and manage all related logistics.
  4. Budgeting and Financial Management: Event planners create detailed budgets, allocating funds to various aspects of the event. They strive to stay within the budget while ensuring the event meets the client's expectations.
  5. Vendor Coordination: Event planners work with different vendors, like caterers, decorators, photographers etc. They manage vendor contracts, ensure timely deliveries, and oversee vendor performance during the event.
  6. Logistics and Event Coordination: Event planners handle all logistical aspects, including event timelines, setup, seating arrangements, and guest management. They ensure that all event elements come together seamlessly.
  7. Marketing and Promotion: For certain events, event planners may be involved in marketing and promoting the event to attract attendees or participants. This includes designing promotional materials and coordinating with marketing teams.
  8. Risk Assessment and Contingency Planning: Event planners identify potential risks and challenges and develop contingency plans to handle unforeseen circumstances, such as weather changes or technical issues.
  9. On-Site Event Management: During the event, event planners oversee all operations, coordinate with vendors and staff, and address any last-minute changes or issues to ensure the event runs smoothly.
  10. Post-Event Evaluation: After the event, event planners conduct post-event evaluations to gather feedback from clients and attendees. They analyze the event's success and identify areas for improvement.
  11. Client Relations: Maintaining strong relationships with clients is vital for event planners. They ensure open communication and provide regular updates to keep clients informed about event progress.
  12. Staying Current with Industry Trends: Event planners continuously research and stay updated on industry trends, new technologies, and innovative event concepts to offer the best solutions to clients.

Event planning is a dynamic and challenging profession that requires strong organizational, communication, negotiation, and problem-solving skills. Event planners work in diverse settings, such as event management companies, hotels, corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. They may specialize in specific types of events, such as weddings, conferences, trade shows, festivals, or corporate events, depending on their interests and expertise.

Types of event planning occasion

Here are the types of event planning occasions that an event planner has to conduct;

  1. Corporate and Business Events: In the corporate world, events like conferences, product launches, seminars, and trade shows are crucial for networking, marketing, and professional development. Corporations often seek experienced event planners to ensure the success of these events.
  2. Weddings and Social Events: Weddings, parties, and other social events are integral parts of many cultures. As these events become more elaborate and personalized, there is a growing need for skilled event planners to manage every detail.
  3. Festivals and Public Events: Festivals and public events, whether cultural, music, or sports-related, draw large crowds and require meticulous planning to ensure safety and a seamless experience. Event planners play a vital role in organizing such events.
  4. Experiential Marketing: Brands are increasingly using events and activations to create unique experiences for their customers. This trend has led to an increased demand for event planners who can create engaging and memorable brand experiences.
  5. Virtual and Hybrid Events:  Due to Covid-19, businesses continue to explore new ways of connecting with their audience, event planners with expertise in virtual event management are in high demand.
  6. Destination Events: Destination weddings, conferences, and incentive trips are gaining popularity. Event planners who can handle logistics and coordination in various locations are highly sought after.
  7. Sustainability and Green Events: With growing environmental awareness, there is an increasing demand for event planners who can design and manage sustainable and eco-friendly events.

While the job market outlook is positive, competition in the events industry can be fierce. Therefore, event planners must stay updated with the latest industry trends, technologies, and best practices. Building a strong portfolio, obtaining relevant certifications, and networking within the industry are essential for success.

Other resources on event planning, how to write an event planner resume, how to write an event planner cover letterevent planner resume sampleevent planning skills for resume and cover letter

Steps to become an event planner

Event planners are responsible for coordinating and managing every aspect of an event to ensure its successful execution. They work closely with clients to understand their goals and vision for the event and then plan, budget, and execute all necessary tasks. It includes venue selection, catering, entertainment, logistics, marketing, and communication. An event planner must possess strong organizational skills, attention to detail, creativity, and the ability to handle pressure in a fast-paced environment.

Step 1: Education and Academic Requirements: While formal education is not always a prerequisite for becoming an event planner, having a degree or relevant certifications can significantly enhance your chances of securing higher-level positions and better pay. Here are the educational requirements you should consider:

  1. High School Diploma or GED: A high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) equivalent is the minimum educational requirement for most entry-level event planning positions.
  2. Bachelor's Degree in Event Management or Related Field: Pursuing a bachelor's degree in event management, hospitality management, marketing, or a related field provides comprehensive knowledge and prepares you for the complexities of event planning. Look for accredited programs that offer internships and hands-on experiences as part of the curriculum.

Step 2: Gain Relevant Experience: While education provides foundational knowledge, gaining practical experience is equally essential to thrive as an event planner. Here's how you can gain experience in this industry;

  1. Internships and Volunteer Work: Seek internships or volunteer opportunities with event planning companies, wedding planners, or nonprofit organizations to gain hands-on experience and build your network.
  2. Entry-level Positions in Event Planning Companies: Consider starting as an entry-level event coordinator or assistant with event planning companies. This will give you valuable exposure to the industry and help you understand the day-to-day responsibilities of an event planner.

Step 3: Obtain Certifications: Obtaining certifications can boost your credibility and demonstrate your commitment to the profession. Here are some prominent event planning certifications to consider:

  1. Certified Meeting Professional (CMP): Offered by the Events Industry Council (EIC), the CMP certification validates your expertise in planning and executing meetings, conferences, and events.
  2. Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP): The International Live Events Association (ILEA) offers the CSEP certification, which recognizes professionals for their knowledge and skills in special event planning.
  3. Event Planning Certification from Professional Associations: Various professional associations, such as the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), offer event planning certifications. Research the available options and choose certifications that align with your career goals.

Step 4: Job Market Outlook for Event Planners: As the demand for well-executed events continues to grow across various industries, the job market outlook for event planners remains promising. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of meeting, convention, and event planners is projected to grow at a faster-than-average rate of around 8% from 2020 to 2030. This growth is driven by the increasing importance of live events in marketing, communications, and entertainment.

Step 5: Licensing and Legal Requirements: In some regions or countries, event planners may be required to obtain specific licenses or permits to operate legally. Licensing requirements can vary based on the type of events you plan to organize and the jurisdiction in which you work. Research the local regulations and consult with legal experts to ensure compliance with all legal requirements.

Step 6: Building Your Event Planning Portfolio: A well-organized portfolio is an essential tool for showcasing your skills and past event planning projects to potential clients or employers. Include detailed descriptions of the events you have coordinated, including event objectives, challenges, and outcomes. Add photographs, testimonials, and any media coverage to make your portfolio visually appealing and engaging.

Step 7: Networking and Building Industry Connections: Networking is a powerful tool for career growth in the event planning industry. Attend industry conferences, workshops, and seminars to connect with other professionals and potential clients. Engage in online networking through social media platforms, industry forums, and professional associations.

What are the top universities for pursuing event planning courses

While experience and certifications hold significant value, formal education from reputed universities can provide you with a strong foundation in event planning. Here are some top universities known for their event planning courses;

New York University (NYU) - School of Professional Studies Certificate in Meeting, Conference, and Event Management

George Washington University (GWU) - School of Business Master's in Tourism Administration with a concentration in Event and Meeting Management

University of Central Florida (UCF) - Rosen College of Hospitality Management Bachelor's in Event Management

San Diego State University (SDSU) - L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Bachelor's in Hospitality and Tourism Management with a focus on Event Management

What are the major countries with the highest paying salaries for event planners

The salary of event planners can vary significantly based on factors such as experience, location, and the scale of events they handle. Some countries known for offering higher salaries to event planners include;

  1. United States: The average salary for event planners in the U.S. is around $50,000 to $60,000 per year.
  2. United Kingdom: Event planners in the UK can earn an average salary of £25,000 to £35,000 per year. Experienced planners working in London or managing high-profile events can earn higher salaries.
  3. Canada: The average salary for event planners in Canada is around CAD 45,000 to CAD 55,000 per year. Event planners with many years of experience can earn more in major cities like Toronto or Vancouver.
  4. Australia: Event planners in Australia can expect an average salary of AU$55,000 to AU$65,000 per year. Salaries can vary based on the city and experience level.
  5. United Arab Emirates: Event planners in the UAE can earn an average salary of AED 100,000 to AED 150,000 per year. The demand for event planners is high in cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, leading to competitive salaries.

What are the certifications necessary to become an event planner

To become a successful event planner and enhance your credentials in the field, several certifications can be valuable. These certifications provide formal recognition of your skills, knowledge, and expertise in event planning. While not all certifications are mandatory, they can significantly boost your credibility and open doors to more opportunities. Here are some of the key certifications necessary to become an event planner;

  1. Certified Meeting Professional (CMP): Offered by the Events Industry Council (EIC), the CMP certification is one of the most recognized and respected credentials in the events industry. To be eligible, you must have at least three years of experience in event planning or a related field and have completed a minimum number of events. The CMP exam covers various topics, including event design, marketing, logistics, and risk management.
  2. Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP): The Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) certification, offered by the International Live Events Association (ILEA), focuses on recognizing professionals who specialize in special events planning. To earn the CSEP designation, you must have at least three years of experience in the events industry and demonstrate your expertise in areas such as event production, design, and execution.
  3. Certified Meeting Manager (CMM): The Certified Meeting Manager (CMM) designation, offered by Meeting Professionals International (MPI), is an advanced certification for experienced event planners and managers. To qualify, you need a minimum of seven years of experience in the meetings and events industry and must complete a comprehensive program that covers strategic planning, financial management, and leadership skills.
  4. Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP): The Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP) certification, provided by the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP), is designed for event planners who work with government agencies. The CGMP program covers government-specific event planning regulations and protocols.
  5. Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM): For those interested in pursuing a career in trade show and exhibition planning, the Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) designation, offered by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), is a valuable certification. It focuses on various aspects of exhibition management, including exhibit design, marketing, and logistics.
  6. Certified Wedding Planner (CWP): The Certified Wedding Planner (CWP) certification, offered by The Bridal Society, is ideal for event planners specializing in wedding planning. The program covers wedding design, vendor coordination, and client relations.
  7. Event Planning Certification from Professional Associations: Numerous professional associations, such as Meeting Professionals International (MPI), Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), and International Live Events Association (ILEA), offer their own event planning certifications. These certifications vary in scope and focus, but they all contribute to demonstrating your commitment to the industry and continuous professional development.

What are the licenses required to become an event planner

The licenses required to become an event planner can vary depending on your location, the type of events you plan to organize, and local regulations. In many regions, event planners do not need specific licenses to start their business or work in the industry. However, there are certain licenses and permits you may need to obtain, especially if you handle certain types of events or offer additional services. Here are some common licenses and permits that event planners may need:

  1. Business License: Most event planners will need a general business license to legally operate their event planning business. This license is typically obtained from the local government or municipality where your business is located. It grants you the authority to operate as a legal entity and may involve a small fee.
  2. Special Events Permit: Some cities or regions require special events permits for specific types of events, especially those held in public spaces or involving large gatherings. This permit ensures that the event complies with local regulations, safety standards, and noise ordinances.
  3. Alcohol License: If you plan to serve alcohol at your events, you may need an alcohol license or permit. This license is essential for events where alcoholic beverages will be sold or provided to guests.
  4. Health and Safety Permits: Depending on the nature of your events and the services you offer, you might need health and safety permits. This can include permits related to food handling, fire safety, and emergency response plans.
  5. Music Licensing: If your events include live or recorded music, you may need music licensing to ensure you have the proper rights to use copyrighted music at your events. This ensures compliance with copyright laws and compensates artists for the use of their work.
  6. Insurance: While not a license, having proper insurance coverage is crucial for event planners. Liability insurance can protect you and your clients from potential lawsuits or damages that may occur during an event.
  7. Vendor Licenses: If you provide additional services beyond event planning, such as catering or photography, you may need specific vendor licenses or permits related to those services.

It's essential to research and understand the licensing requirements in your specific region, as they can vary significantly from one area to another. Local government offices, small business associations, or industry-specific organizations can be valuable resources to help you navigate the licensing process.


Becoming an event planner requires a combination of education, experience, certifications, and networking. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can embark on a rewarding career in event planning. Keep in mind that success in this field relies on creativity, adaptability, attention to detail, and a passion for creating unforgettable experiences for clients and attendees. As the events industry continues to evolve, there are ample opportunities for skilled event planners to flourish and make a lasting impact in this dynamic profession.

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