Event Planning Careers

Job Description

Two female caterers with dishware
••• Tetra Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

It often seems that every group of friends has that one person who takes charge of party planning. This person knows how to structure an event, coordinate all of the moving parts, and make sure everyone has a good time. In the real world, there is an occupation in which these entertaining gurus would very likely excel, and it's called event planning.

Organizations, businesses, and individuals often rely on the services of event planners to coordinate conventions, business meetings, trade shows, and private parties.

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 also arrange lodging and transportation for attendees. Those whose area of expertise is wedding planning are called bridal consultants or wedding planners.

Quick Facts

  • Event planners earned a median annual salary of $48,290 in 2017.
  • Just over 102,000 people were employed as event planners in 2017.
  • Most worked for private companies; one-tenth were self-employed.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts this occupation will have a very good job outlook, with employment growth that is 11 percent faster than the average for all occupations through 2026.
  • Jobs are typically full-time, but you should expect to work additional hours in the days leading up to and during big events. You may also have to work on weekends.
  • You will also have to attend the events on which you are working.

A Day in an Event Planner's Life

What are some typical job duties for event planners? According to job announcements on Indeed.com, they include:

  • "Organize and schedule onsite and offsite corporate events, including executive retreats, award programs, anniversary reward programs, intern outings, and special events"
  • "Create new business and generate new sales"
  • "Conduct research, make site visits, and find resources to help staff make decisions about event possibilities"
  • "Coordinate menu for all meal functions"
  • "Identify, invite, and confirm appropriate speakers for conferences"
  • "Develop, manage, and administer all aspects of event software systems for registration, reporting, and other needs relating to meeting and events"
  • "Direct and solve a variety of challenges on a daily basis where solutions are crucial to improving the outcome or accomplishing the goals of each program or event"
  • "Negotiate and manage all aspects of contractual commitments"

Become an Event Planner

If you want to work as an event planner, you should earn a bachelor's degree in hospitality management or a related major. Although you may be able to get an entry-level job without formal education, it will limit your chances for career growth.

Some people who work in this field have degrees in public relations, marketing, communication, and business, but you should supplement your education with work experience. One way to do this is through an internship.

You'll Need Some Soft Skills

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.

Advancement Opportunities for Event Planners

As you gain experience, you may have the opportunity to take on more responsibilities.

You may move up from being a conference coordinator to being a program coordinator and then to being a meeting manager. Eventually, you may become an executive director of an organization. You may alternatively want to start your own business.

Your Employer's Expectations

In addition to education, experience, and soft skills, employers also have certain expectations for the event planners they hire. These requirements appeared in job announcements on Indeed.com:

  • "Energetic and positive attitude"
  • "A devoted team player who thrives in a collaborative environment"
  • "Ability to work flexible and demanding hours, including nights, holidays, and weekends when needed"
  • "Must possess good public speaking skills"
  • "Self-motivated and able to work both independently and as part of a team"
  • "Ability to multitask and work well under pressure"
  • "Strong computer skills that include proficiency with MS Office and Google applications"
  • "Ability to travel"

Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?

Consider your interestspersonality type, and work-related values when trying to decide whether an event planning career is suitable for you. This career could be a good fit for someone with the following traits:

You can find online assessment tests that measure your strength in the above traits, as well as other insightful information that can guide you in a productive direction for your occupation choices.

Occupations With Similar Tasks and Activities

 DescriptionMedian Annual Wage (2017)Minimum Required Education/Training
Training and Development SpecialistCoordinates programs that improve employees' skills$60,360Bachelor's degree
FundraiserOrganizes events to collect donations for a nonprofit organization.$55,640Bachelor's degree
Wholesale or Retail BuyerBuy products on behalf of companies that, in turn, sell them.$53,340HS diploma or bachelor's degree

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2017–18; Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, ​O*NET Online.