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How to Become an Event Planner

By Ibrahim Okunade

Published:

If you’ve always been the go-to person for planning gatherings and coordinating celebrations, then a career as an event planner is right up your alley. Event planning can be an exciting and fulfilling profession. It allows you to turn your passion for organizing into a rewarding profession.

Whether you dream of coordinating weddings, corporate conferences, or extravagant parties, this article will provide a simple step-by-step guide to help you become a successful event planner.

Career Summary

Event Planner Salary

Event Planner Salary

How much do event planners make? We have the answer for you right here. Here is the salary range from entry to executive level:

  • Entry Salary (US$51k)
  • Median Salary (US$61k)
  • Executive Salary (US$78k)

Compared to the general average income in the US, an Event Planner’s salary is considered to be mid-range.

What does an Event Planner do?

Event planners are professionals who organize and coordinate various types of events while meeting the specific objectives and requirements of the client.

They are saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that occasions are flawlessly executed and leave a lasting impression on attendees.

Event Planner Career Progression

Let’s look closer at the key responsibilities of event planners and their potential career progression.

  • Entry-Level Event Coordinator/Assistant: Assists with event planning tasks, such as coordinating logistics, managing budgets, and communicating with vendors.
  • Event Planner: Plans and execute events independently. Works with clients to develop event concepts and budgets.
  • Senior Event Planner/Manager: Oversees the planning and execution of large-scale events. Manages a team of event planners. Develops and implements event strategies.
  • Chief Events Officer: Executive-level position in event planning agencies, event management companies, or large corporations. Provides strategic leadership, overseeing all aspects of event planning, managing budgets, and driving organizational growth.
Event Planner Career Progression

Pros:

  • Creativity and variety
  • Travel opportunities
  • Building meaningful connections
  • Flexibility and autonomy
  • Sense of accomplishment

Cons:

  • You may have to work with difficult clients, vendors, and suppliers.
  • The workload is usually unpredictable. Sometimes, you have to work long hours.
  • There can be dry spells.
  • The job sometimes comes with high-stress levels.

Useful Skills to Have as an Event Planner

To succeed in this profession, you need important skills, such as:

  • Effective Communication
  • Time Management
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Problem-Solving Skills
  • Creativity
  • Attention to Detail

Popular Event Planning Specialties

There are several specialties in the world of event planning. These specialties include:

  • Corporate Events
  • Weddings
  • Trade Shows
  • Fundraisers
  • Festivals
  • Concerts
  • Corporate Meetings
  • Product Launches

How to become an Event Planner

Event Planner 5 Steps to Career

It is important to note that these specialties overlap. Thus, a professional event planner can specialize in more than one of the specialties mentioned above.

You definitely won’t become a professional event planner overnight. There are paths to follow. Many have failed in their quest to become an event planner because they didn’t have the right information. This comprehensive guide explains these steps in-depth to ensure you have all you need to succeed.

Broadly, the path to becoming an event planner is divided into two. There is the education path and the practical experience path. In the subsequent sections, we answer common questions related to both paths.

Education

Becoming an event planner does not have strict educational requirements. Nonetheless, acquiring relevant knowledge and skills can greatly enhance your career prospects. A high school diploma or equivalent is the minimum educational requirement for most event planning positions. It provides a foundation in communication, organization, and basic business skills.

However, going one step further to acquire higher educational qualifications gives you an advantage over others. It is a testament to the fact that you’re a committed and dedicated professional willing to invest in their knowledge and expertise, setting you apart in the competitive field of event planning.

Do I need a degree to become an event planner?

No, a degree is not a mandatory requirement to become an event planner. While a formal degree can provide a solid foundation and enhance your knowledge and skills in areas such as event management, hospitality management, or marketing, it is not the sole determining factor for success in this field.

Many event planners have built successful careers through practical experience, networking, and acquiring specific event planning skills. Gaining hands-on experience through internships, volunteering, or working in entry-level positions within the event planning industry can be equally valuable in developing the necessary skills and understanding of the field.

However, obtaining a degree in Hospitality Management or pursuing certifications in event planning or related fields can give you a broader perspective and knowledge. All of these will potentially open up additional opportunities within the industry. It may also be beneficial if you plan to work for larger event-planning companies or pursue specialized roles within the field.

Ultimately, the most important factors in becoming a successful event planner are your skills, creativity, organization, communication abilities, and dedication to delivering exceptional client experiences. Practical experience, continuous learning, and building a strong professional network are often just as crucial as formal education in this profession.

Why is it important to get a degree in Hospitality Management?

Getting a degree in Hospitality Management is important for aspiring event planners because it provides specialized knowledge, practical skills, and industry-specific education that can give them a competitive edge and a deeper understanding of the field.

Moreover, many employers in the event planning industry value candidates with formal education. They consider it a benchmark of professionalism and commitment. A degree in Hospitality Management can open doors to a wider range of job opportunities, including positions at event planning companies, hotels, convention centers, or corporate event departments.

Also, a degree in Hospitality Management helps event planners build a strong professional network, gain credibility, and validates their skills and expertise. It offers opportunities for internships and experiential learning opportunities, allowing students to apply their knowledge in real-world settings.

Additionally, the educational journey fosters personal growth and development. Through coursework, students learn effective communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills, which are invaluable in the fast-paced and dynamic world of event planning.

A degree in Hospitality Management is one of many pathways to success as an event planner.

Employers also hire individuals with a bachelor’s degree in fields like:

  • Communications
  • Public Relations
  • Business
  • Marketing

How long does it take to get a degree in Hospitality Management?

The duration to complete a degree in Hospitality Management can vary depending on various factors such as the type of degree, the educational institution, and your enrollment status.

Here are the general timeframes for different types of degrees:

  • Associate Degree: An associate degree in Hospitality Management typically takes around two years of full-time study to complete. It may require approximately 60 to 70 credit hours of coursework.
  • Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management usually takes around 3 to 4 years of full-time study to complete. This generally involves approximately 120 to 140 credit hours of coursework, including general education requirements.
  • Master’s Degree: If you already hold a bachelor’s degree, pursuing a master’s degree in Hospitality Management takes around 1 to 2 years of full-time study. However, some programs offer accelerated or part-time options that can affect the duration.

How much does it cost to study Hospitality Management at a university?

Tuition fees for hospitality management programs range between US$9,925 to US$25,189. In some cases, universities may charge higher tuition fees for international students compared to domestic students.

Apart from tuition fees, students should also consider other expenses such as accommodation, textbooks, supplies, living expenses, and potentially additional fees for internships or study abroad programs.

To help offset the cost of studying hospitality management at the university, it’s advisable to research and explore scholarships, grants, and financial aid options.

Can I become an event planner through online education?

Yes, you can. Some universities and online learning platforms offer Hospitality Management and Marketing courses online. This learning mode provides flexibility and convenience for individuals who may have other commitments or prefer a self-paced approach to their studies.

Online hospitality management courses often cover similar topics to traditional in-person programs, including event planning, hotel management, food and beverage operations, tourism, and customer service. These courses are designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the industry while leveraging digital platforms for course delivery.

One of the key advantages of online learning is the ability to access educational resources and materials from anywhere in the world. Students can learn at their own pace, allowing them to balance their studies with work or personal obligations.

However, it’s important to carefully research and select reputable online learning platforms or accredited universities that offer recognized hospitality management courses.

Are there other event planner certifications?

Yes, there are other event planner certifications that can complement your educational qualifications. For instance, the Certified Meeting Professional certificate is a popular event planner certification. The Events Industry Council (EIC) issues this certificate to professionals who wish to specialize in organizing meetings and conventions.

The Certified Government Meeting Professional certificate is another well-known event planner certification. Issued by the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP), this certification is available to planners and suppliers whose work is governed by the rules and regulations of the federal government.

Other certifications event planners should consider getting include:

What are some web resources to learn skills to become an Event Planner?

There are several web resources available that can help you learn and develop skills to become an event planner. For instance, many event planning professionals and organizations maintain blogs where they share industry insights, tips, and best practices. Some notable event planning blogs include Eventtia and Social Tables Blog. These blogs often cover a wide range of topics, including event trends, event marketing, logistics, and technology.

YouTube is another treasure trove of event planning tutorials, tips, and inspiration. Many event planners and organizations have YouTube channels dedicated to sharing their knowledge and experiences. Channels such as Event Planning and Event Planning Blueprint offer useful tips and insights about event planning and management.

Also, podcasts can be an excellent resource for learning while on the go. There are several event planning podcasts available that cover a wide range of topics related to event management. Some popular ones include Gather Geeks, hosted by David Adler, and Event Tech Podcast. Listening to these podcasts can provide insights, tips, and real-life experiences shared by industry professionals.

Remember to explore these web resources, take advantage of the vast amount of free and paid content available, and tailor your learning journey to your specific needs and interests as an aspiring event planner.

Practical Experience

Learning all there is to know about event planning is good. However, theory without practice can only take you so far. It’s essential to complement your knowledge with practical experience to truly excel as an event planner. Theoretical knowledge provides the foundational understanding and principles, but putting that knowledge into action through hands-on experience is where you truly refine your skills, develop problem-solving abilities, and learn to adapt to real-world scenarios.

What are internship opportunities for an event planner?

Internship opportunities for event planners can vary depending on the location, industry, and specific organizations or companies offering internships. You can find these internship opportunities on online job platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor.

Here are some common internship opportunities that aspiring event planners can consider:

  • Event Planning Companies: Many event planning companies offer internship programs to provide hands-on experience in the field. These internships may involve assisting with event coordination, logistics, vendor management, client communication, and on-site event execution. It’s a valuable opportunity to learn from experienced professionals, understand the day-to-day operations of an event planning company, and gain practical skills.
  • Event Venues: Event venues such as hotels, convention centers, resorts, and event spaces often offer internships in their event management departments. Interns may have the opportunity to assist with planning and organizing events hosted at the venue, handle client inquiries, coordinate with various departments, and gain insight into the venue management aspect of event planning.
  • Non-Profit Organizations: Non-profit organizations often organize events for fundraising, awareness campaigns, or community engagement. Interning with such organizations can provide exposure to event planning within a non-profit context, including coordinating fundraising galas, charity events, or volunteer-driven initiatives. This type of internship can give you a sense of social responsibility and the opportunity to make a positive impact through event planning.
  • Corporate Event Departments: Many companies have dedicated event departments or teams responsible for organizing corporate events such as conferences, trade shows, product launches, or employee gatherings. Interning with a corporate event department can provide insight into the planning and execution of corporate events, working with budgets, collaborating with vendors, and ensuring a seamless experience for attendees.
  • Wedding and Social Event Planners: Interning with wedding planners or social event planners can give you exposure to the world of private events. Assisting with wedding planning, milestone celebrations, or social gatherings can provide practical experience in coordinating with clients, managing vendors, and executing events with a personal touch.

Researching and reaching out to event planning companies, venues, organizations, and professionals in your area to inquire about internship opportunities is important. Networking, attending industry events, and utilizing online job portals and internship platforms can also help you find relevant internship opportunities in the event planning field.

What skills will I learn as an event planner?

A career as an event planner requires some essential skills. You have to step into multiple roles throughout your event planning career.

Here are some key skills you can expect to develop:

  • Event Management: You will learn how to effectively plan, coordinate, and manage events of various sizes and types. This includes understanding event logistics, budgeting, timeline management, venue selection, vendor coordination, and risk assessment.
  • Communication: Strong communication skills are crucial in event planning. You will learn how to effectively communicate with clients, vendors, team members, and event attendees. This includes active listening, written and verbal communication, negotiation, and diplomacy.
  • Organization and Time Management: Event planning requires excellent organizational skills and the ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously. You will learn how to prioritize, create timelines, and meet deadlines while ensuring all event components come together seamlessly.
  • Problem-Solving: Event planners often encounter unexpected challenges during the planning and execution process. You will develop problem-solving skills to think quickly on your feet, adapt to changing circumstances, and find creative solutions to overcome obstacles.
  • Attention to Detail: Successful event planning requires meticulous attention to detail. You will learn to pay close attention to every aspect of an event, from the overall event design to the smallest logistical details, to ensure a flawless experience for attendees.
  • Budgeting and Financial Management: Event planners are responsible for managing budgets and financial resources. You will learn how to create and track budgets, negotiate contracts, and make financial decisions to maximize resources and deliver successful events within budget constraints.
  • Teamwork and Leadership: Event planning often involves working with a team of professionals, including vendors, suppliers, and event staff. You will develop teamwork and leadership skills to effectively delegate tasks, coordinate team efforts, and inspire collaboration.
  • Creativity and Innovation: Event planners need to think creatively to design unique and memorable events. You will learn to generate innovative ideas, develop event themes and concepts, and incorporate creative elements that leave a lasting impression on attendees.

These are just a few of the many skills you can expect to learn as an event planner. It’s important to continuously refine and enhance these skills through practical experience, ongoing learning, and staying up-to-date with industry trends and best practices.

What is the Work-Life Balance of an Event Planner?

The work-life balance of an event planner can vary depending on several factors, including the nature of the events being planned, the workload, and individual preferences. We’ll explain some of the key points to consider below.

Event planning often involves working irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays, as events themselves typically occur during these times. This can impact work-life balance, especially if events are frequent or tight deadlines must be met.

However, there may be periods of relative downtime between busy event seasons. These off-season periods provide opportunities for event planners to recharge, take vacations, pursue personal interests, or engage in professional development activities.

Event planners often work as part of a team, which can contribute to a more balanced workload and shared responsibilities. Collaboration allows for better distribution of tasks, enabling event planners to share the workload and achieve a more manageable work-life balance.

It’s important to note that while event planning can be demanding and involve irregular hours, many event planners find the work fulfilling and enjoy the excitement of creating memorable experiences for others.

Establishing a healthy work-life balance requires effective time management and finding strategies that work best for individual needs and preferences.

What’s the Career Outlook for Event Planner?

The career outlook for event planners is generally positive, with opportunities for growth and advancement in the field. Employment of meeting, convention, and event planners is projected to grow 18 percent from 2021 to 2031. This figure is much higher than the average for all occupations.

Event Planner Popular Career Specialties

What are the Job Opportunities for an Event Planner?

The great part of being an event planner is that you can work as part of an organization or work solo, providing flexibility and diverse career paths. If you prefer a collaborative environment and enjoy being part of a team, you can join an event planning company, corporate event department, or hospitality organization.

Working within an organization allows you to leverage resources, benefit from shared expertise, and engage in teamwork while contributing to the success of large-scale events. Usually, you will have to take some tests and interviews to work in these organizations. You can find tips to help ace your interviews with event planning companies or departments.

On the other hand, if you thrive in autonomy and prefer to have full control over your projects, you can establish your own event planning business and work as an independent event planner. This allows you to shape your brand, set your rates, and tailor your services to meet your client’s needs and preferences. Being a solo event planner allows you to choose your clients, select the types of events you want to specialize in and have direct control of your work from start to finish.

Should I become an Event Planner?

A career as an event planner is definitely a fulfilling one. However, it isn’t a decision you should make hastily. It is important to take a step back to understand what the profession entails and whether or not you can cope with the rigors.

Assess your skills to know whether you can meet the requirements of being an event planner. This includes organizational abilities, attention to detail, budget management, excellent communication, problem-solving, creativity, adaptability, and time management.

Also, it is important to assess your long-term goals and how the peculiarities of an event planning career fit into them. For instance, event planning can be an excellent fit if you want a dynamic and fast-paced career that allows you to work on diverse projects and interact with different people. On the other hand, if you prioritize stability, routine, and a predictable work schedule, event planning may pose challenges due to fluctuating timelines and demanding event schedules. To start as an event planner, you need to acquire relevant skills and knowledge through education or training. Endeavor to gain practical experience by assisting established event planners or volunteering. By doing this, you can build a professional network to help you navigate the industry easily in your early days. An event coordinator is typically responsible for the operational execution of an event. Such an individual focuses on vendor coordination, timeline management, and on-site logistics tasks. They work closely with the event planner to ensure smooth event operations. An event planner has a broader role and is involved in the entire event planning process. This includes budgeting, design, client communication, and strategic decision-making. They oversee the overall vision and execution of the event. Yes, you can make money as an event planner. Event planners charge fees for their services. The cost of their services may vary based on factors like event complexity, size, location, and the event planner’s experience level. This means successful event planners have the potential to earn a profitable income.

Careers Related to Event Planner


Ibrahim Okunade

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