As an event planner, your job entails more than just putting a party together. Your clients will expect you to communicate their message, purpose, and core values through the events you plan. This means that your work begins before the event and extends to after everyone has gone home.
Event planners are the minds behind every public conference, social gathering, charity event, seminar, or trade show you see or attend. If this describes something, you can see yourself doing, here is all you must know about How to Become an Event Planner.
What Is an Event Planner?
An event planner is a professional that structures oversees, and executes an event. They make sure the event happens, the objectives are achieved, and everyone enjoys themselves. If the food runs out at a wedding, you will never hear about it because event planners are always on their feet, solving problems as they crop up.
Event planners handle every minute detail of an event, from hiring caterers, finding a location, and sending out invites to sitting the attendees and overseeing their transport and accommodation.
What Event Planners do?
Coordinating and planning events is just the tip of the iceberg that is the job description of an event planner. If you, your business, organization, or agency hires an event planner, you can expect them to perform the following roles:
- Define the parameters of the event by date, time, budget, and location.
- Look for and inspect possible venues for the event
- Discuss the purpose of the event with the event stakeholders
- Shop around to get the best prices from vendors for the event
- Accept, deny, negotiate, and oversee vendor contracts
- Manage the event budget, pay everyone who must be paid, and keep the spending within budget.
- Organize the equipment and technology required for the event
- Coordinate transportation, food, drinks, and lodging for the attendees.
As you can see, event planners oversee every detail that pertains to an event, from planning to execution. That said, the real scope of their work will depend on the type and size of the event you are planning to have.
The Event Planning Industry Intro
According to a 2018 Events Industry Council study, the event planning industry provided 10.3 million jobs and generated over $1trillion in direct spending worldwide. The total output per country was dominated by the United States, followed by China, and then Germany.
Other reports by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the annual median pay for the three types of professional planners (meeting, event, and convention) was $49,370.
It is important to note that while some event planners handle all types of events, others specialize in areas such as trade shows and weddings. The types of events these professionals plan include:
- Celebrations, e.g. reunions, anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, and graduations
- Corporate events, e.g. award ceremonies, galas, product launches, trade shows, and business retreats
- Nonprofit events, e.g. charity races, banquets, blood drives, and food drives
The roles of an event planner will often depend on the type of event.
Event planning shows higher than average projections for the next decade regarding job outlook as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment in the industry is expected to increase by close to 11 percent between 2016 and 2016, a number significantly higher than that of other professions within the same 10-year period. The outlook for business operation specialists, for example, is only expected to grow by 9 percent, although the job is similar to event planning.
The promising numbers demonstrated by event planning can be attributed to the ever-present demand for professionally coordinated events. Event planners can increase their employability by gaining skills in using virtual meeting software and social media.
Despite these projections, it is important to note that event planning as an industry is dependent on the economy. If the economy goes down, there will likely be fewer event planning jobs.
Necessary Skills for an Event Planner
Some of the key skills an event planner should possess are time management, organization, and the ability to multitask. They must also excel in written and verbal communications and be able to:
- Work well with a team
- Manage staff members
- Create and execute a budget
- Remain personable and calm in high-pressure situations
- Negotiate with vendors and service providers
- Interact with all members of management, whichever lever
- Have excellent instinct in selecting venues, entertainment, lodging and transportation services, and gifts
Degree and Academic Background
People from different academic backgrounds can build a career in event planning. Some planners even start in other administrative fields and end up in event planning. That said, many companies will hire event planners with a bachelor’s degree in the following fields:
- Business administration
- Hospitality management
- Public relations
For event planners looking to specialize in exhibitions, meetings, and conventions, earning the Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP) credentials of taking the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) exam can be a great career advancer.
Event Planner Salary
How much an event planner earns will depend on several factors such as experience, location, and mode of operation (freelance or employment). According to a 2018 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, event planning offers compensation as follows:
- Annual salary for top 10 percent – Over $84,900
- Annual salary for bottom 10 percent – Under $27,560
- Median annual salary – $49,370
Getting Started as an Event Planner
With all the qualifications already in the bank, it is time to get started on building your career and reputation as an event planner. The following strategies should guide you:
Step 1: Volunteer to plan events for businesses, nonprofit organizations, or other event planners to gain experience in the field.
Step 2: Grow your network by joining event planning associations such as the International Live Events Society and Meeting Planners International. Get to know as many people as possible.
Step 3: Network with people outside the event planning industry whose work overlaps with yours. This includes vendors, musicians, caterers, and media personalities.
Step 4: Ask for more responsibilities at your place of work.
Step 5: Design a portfolio that highlights all your previously planned events. You will use it to pitch yourself to potential clients.
Understanding How to Become an Event Planner is an excellent first step toward planning your career in professional planning. As you do, remember that event planning is a full-time job, sometimes calling for extra hours or event weekends both within and outside the office. You will likely need to travel regularly and keep tabs on all the aspects of an event. All in all, event planning is a demanding but rewarding career pursuit.