What Does an Event Planner Do?
Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More
An event planner structures an event, coordinate all of the moving parts, and makes sure everyone has a good time. Also called convention and meeting planners, they do everything involved in making sure these events go smoothly, including choosing locations, hiring caterers, entertainment, and other vendors. They may also arrange lodging and transportation for attendees.
Organizations, businesses, and individuals often rely on the services of event planners to coordinate conventions, business meetings, trade shows, and private parties. Those whose area of expertise is wedding planning are called bridal consultants or wedding planners.
Event Planner Duties & Responsibilities
This job requires candidates to be able to perform duties that can include but are not limited to the following:
- Meet with event stakeholders to gain an understanding of the event's purpose and goals
- Outline the scope of the event, including time, date, location, and budget
- Scout and inspect event venues
- Work with vendors to get bids and determine best fits for the budget and goals of the event
- Negotiate and manage vendor contracts
- Coordinate event logistics and services, including technology and equipment needed to run the event, food, drinks, transportation, lodging, and more
- Manage the budget and ensure event stays within guidelines; ensure vendors are paid
Event planners plan and coordinate every single detail of an event for their employers or clients. What that includes, exactly, can depend on the size and type of event. Some event planners may specialize in certain types of events, such as meetings, conventions and trade shows, festivals, parties, or weddings.
Event Planner Salary
An event planner's salary can vary depending on a number of factors, including location, experience, and whether they work independently or for a company.
- Median Annual Salary: $49,370
- Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $84,900
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $27,560
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
Education Requirements & Qualifications
Education and training requirements vary for event planners depending on area of expertise which can include weddings and other personal events, as well as business meetings, conventions, and conferences. Although you may be able to get an entry-level event planning job without formal education, it could limit your chances for career growth.
Education: Many event planners earn at least a bachelor's degree in hospitality management or a related major. Some people who work in this field have degrees in public relations, marketing, communication, and business.
Certifications: There are a few different voluntary certifications that event planners can get to help boost their skills and credibility. A common one is the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential program through the Events Industry Council. Other optional certifications exist in different specialties, including The Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP) designation through the Society of Government Meeting Professionals, and a few different levels of certification offered by the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners AACWP.
Experience: Some event planners gain experience through an internship or begin by working in related positions in the hospitality industry. They can also gain experience early on by coordinating college and volunteer events.
As event planners gain experience, they may have the opportunity to take on more responsibilities. For instance, that could mean moving up from being a conference coordinator to being a program coordinator and then to being a meeting manager. Eventually, many event planners also start their own businesses.
Event Planner Skills & Competencies
In addition to an understanding of hospitality management from a business aspect, you'll increase your chances of success if you have well-developed soft skills, such as the following:
- Communication skills: Excellent listening, speaking, and writing skills will facilitate your ability to communicate with vendors, event attendees, and staff.
- Attention to detail: Your ability to notice the most minute details of an event, from the typeface on the invitations to the kind of salad that will be served at the reception, is essential.
- Coordination: You must be able to work alongside other people and adjust your actions to theirs.
- Problem-solving: You have to be adept at not only solving problems but maintaining your composure when doing so.
- Interpersonal skills: The ability to establishing and maintain relationships with vendors is essential and will make your life easier when it is time to plan future events.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for event planners over the next decade relative to other occupations and industries is above the average for all occupations, driven by a strong and continuing demand for professionally arranged events and meetings.
Employment is expected to grow by about 11 percent over the next ten years, which is faster than the average growth projected for all occupations between 2016 and 2026. Growth for other similar occupations, such as business operations specialists, is projected to be 9 percent over the next ten years.
Applicants can increase their job prospects if they have hospitality experience and experience with social media outlets and virtual meeting software.
Event planner positions often fluctuate with the economy, and an economic downturn leads to fewer events and fewer planning jobs.
Event planners spend time both in and out of their offices. They often travel regularly to event sites and venues in the time leading up to the events and during the events themselves. The work can be fast-paced and demanding since an event planner must coordinate several aspects of an event at once.
Event planning jobs are typically full-time and often require additional hours in the days leading up to and during big events. Hours can also include evenings and weekends.
How to Get the Job
Write Standout Resume and Cover Letters
Review examples of resumes and cover letters for event planners to make sure you have a leg up on the competition.
Start by looking at job sites specific to the event planning industry, such as the International Live Events Association career hub and Meeting Professionals International's career center.
Plan Ahead for Interviews
Be prepared for all of your interviews by reviewing common interview questions for event planners.
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Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018