How To Become an Event Planner

Information Last Verified: August 4, 2021 by Jordan Fabel

Are you the type that can throw a great party or event? Do you want to do this as a career? If so, you might want to learn how to become an event planner.

There are several steps you will need to take, but a degree isn’t required. This is one of the careers you can get into and make a nice living without a specific degree. Let’s look at the steps you will need to follow to become an event planner.

Are you the type that can throw a great party or event? Do you want to do this as a career? If so, you might want to learn how to become an event planner. There are several steps you will need to take, but a degree isn't required. This is one of the careers you can get into and make a nice living without a specific degree. Let's look at the steps you will need to follow to become an event planner. How to Become an Event Planner in 5 Steps Step #1 - Get a College Degree (Optional) While this step in becoming an event planner isn't necessary, it can be very helpful. You want to consider getting a bachelor's degree in hospitality management, marketing, or public relations. This can help you gain the necessary knowledge to work with companies as an event planner. Getting a degree will teach you valuable skills, such as accounting, relationship management, event sales and sponsorship, and even some important computer skills. You don't have to get a degree, but it's a good path to choose if you want to become an event planner. Step #2 - Work in the Industry Whether you get a degree or not, it's very helpful to gain some experience in event planning. Working for a catering company or an event planner can help. This can help you see what it takes to plan an event. You can also earn a little bit of money in the process. If you're pursuing a degree, working for a university catering company can be helpful. You can even volunteer to help with events for the experience. Anything you can do to be involved in the process of an event will help you see if this is the right career for you. Step #3 - Gain Helpful Certifications (Optional) You don't have to be certified to be an event planner. Anybody can print out business cards claiming to be an event planner and start planning events for clients. However, the right certifications can help your credibility. They can also help you gain the necessary experience and knowledge. One of the best certifications you can get is the CPCE (Certified Professional in Catering and Events). This certification only requires you to pass an exam, which makes it rather easy to obtain. It's for hospitality, catering, and event organizers. Along with CPCE, you should also consider the following three certifications: Certified Meeting Professional - You will need six months of experience, and you will need to pass the exam to get the CMP (Certified Meeting Professional). This is for convention, exhibition, and meeting event planners. Certified Government Meeting Professional - A three-day course and an exam is required for the CGMP (Certified Government Meeting Professional). If you want to work with governments to help with planning meetings, this is the verification for you. Certified Special Events Professional - The CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional) will require one year of experience, six months of SGMP (Society of Government Meeting Professionals) membership, a three-day course, and passing an exam. It's for professional development and can help your credibility. Without any work experience, you can get the CPCE and the CGMP to help boost your credibility. Then, within one year, you can achieve both of the other certifications, as well. The Event Leadership Institute also offers some certification programs. For example, you can gain certification in Events and Meeting Management, Fundraising Event Management, Weeding, Event Design, Technical Meetings, Event Production, and Event Entrepreneurship and Growth. In addition, there are several certification options if you want to specialize in a specific area of event planning. Step #4 - Learn Industry Technology At some point, you will need to learn the necessary technology to be an event planner. This may be provided as on-the-job training or through a training course. Some of the programs commonly used by event planners include: Microsoft Project Marketo Marketing Automation Convention Industry Council CIC APEX Toolbox Active Network Event Register Blackbaud The Raiser's Edge You may not need to master every program on this list, but you will likely need to learn one or two. Step #5 - Specialize After you've gained some experience as an event planner, you might want to specialize. There are many different specialties to consider, such as planning weddings, conventions, or another type of event. You might prefer to plan fundraising events or work in the corporate world. Specializing may earn you a higher salary. But, on the other hand, it can allow you to become an expert in your field. Consider which niche you prefer and market accordingly if you're running your own event planning business. Duties of an Event Planner Yes, your main duty as an event planner will be to plan and coordinate the event. Within the main duties, however, you will have many other things to do, including: Meeting with clients - This is a big part of the job as you have to figure out what your clients need. You will speak with them about the time, date, budget, and goal of the event. Likely, you will meet with clients several times throughout the process. Coordinate with vendors and venues - Once you have a client's event to plan, you will need to book a venue and start finding the right vendors. Working with venues and vendors will be a big part of your job. Create and stick to the budget - Creating a budget for each event is important. You will take information from your clients to create this budget and make sure they approve of the budget. Handle pre-event checks - Each event will require specific pre-event checks. You need to handle these checks and make sure everything is in order. If there's an issue, you'll be in charge of fixing it. Coordinate the actual event - You’ll become the event coordinator on the day of the event. This means you will supervise the staff and contractors. You will make sure things run on schedule, and the venue is properly cleaned up after the event. Common Skills of Event Planners As an event planner, you will need specific skills to help ensure you can keep the events running on schedule. Some of the most common skills for events planners include: Communication - You will be working with clients, vendors, venues, contractors, and employers. Being able to communicate is vital to your job. Problem Solving - Rarely will an event go off without any issues. Solving problems is a big part of the job of an event planner. Organization - If you're not organized, you will have more problems to solve throughout the event. Detail-Oriented - You will need to pay attention to all the necessary details. Even a small, overlooked detail can turn into a big issue. Negotiation - Working with vendors and venues requires negotiating contracts and rates for your clients. Budgeting - Creating a budget and working within it is a good skill to have as an event planner. With these skills and plenty of creativity, you can help your clients bring their events to life. Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an Event Planner How much can I make as an event planner? The average salary for an event planner is between $45K and $50K. However, many event planners run their own small businesses. Working for yourself can provide more financial stability and a higher income. Is the event planning field growing? Yes, experts predict there will be a bigger need for event planners in years to come. The event planning field grew by about 10% since 2014 and is expected to keep growing. Do I need a license to become an event planner? No. However, if you decide to work for yourself, you may need a business license from your state. This will depend on the state you live in and the requirements. For example, some states require you to have specific insurance to open your own business and meet other requirements. What type of hours do event planners work? Event planners don't work a typical 9-to-5 job. They often work long hours, nights, and weekends. It will depend on when the events are happening and when clients are available for meetings. What is the work environment like for an event planner? You will likely work in an office, but also at many venues. It's not uncommon for event planners to take meetings over lunch or at a coffee shop. Working in the office will likely include spending time on a computer and the phone with vendors and venues. Of course, you will also need to be at many of your events. This means you will work in specific venues to ensure things run smoothly.

How to Become an Event Planner in 5 Steps

Step #1 – Get a College Degree (Optional)

While this step in becoming an event planner isn’t necessary, it can be very helpful. You want to consider getting a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, marketing, or public relations. This can help you gain the necessary knowledge to work with companies as an event planner.

Getting a degree will teach you valuable skills, such as accounting, relationship management, event sales and sponsorship, and even some important computer skills. You don’t have to get a degree, but it’s a good path to choose if you want to become an event planner.

Step #2 – Work in the Industry

Whether you get a degree or not, it’s very helpful to gain some experience in event planning. Working for a catering company or an event planner can help. This can help you see what it takes to plan an event. You can also earn a little bit of money in the process.

If you’re pursuing a degree, working for a university catering company can be helpful. You can even volunteer to help with events for the experience. Anything you can do to be involved in the process of an event will help you see if this is the right career for you.

Step #3 – Gain Helpful Certifications (Optional)

You don’t have to be certified to be an event planner. Anybody can print out business cards claiming to be an event planner and start planning events for clients. However, the right certifications can help your credibility. They can also help you gain the necessary experience and knowledge.

One of the best certifications you can get is the CPCE (Certified Professional in Catering and Events). This certification only requires you to pass an exam, which makes it rather easy to obtain. It’s for hospitality, catering, and event organizers.

Along with CPCE, you should also consider the following three certifications:

Without any work experience, you can get the CPCE and the CGMP to help boost your credibility. Then, within one year, you can achieve both of the other certifications, as well.

The Event Leadership Institute also offers some certification programs. For example, you can gain certification in Events and Meeting Management, Fundraising Event Management, Weeding, Event Design, Technical Meetings, Event Production, and Event Entrepreneurship and Growth. In addition, there are several certification options if you want to specialize in a specific area of event planning.

Step #4 – Learn Industry Technology

At some point, you will need to learn the necessary technology to be an event planner. This may be provided as on-the-job training or through a training course. Some of the programs commonly used by event planners include:

You may not need to master every program on this list, but you will likely need to learn one or two.

Step #5 – Specialize

After you’ve gained some experience as an event planner, you might want to specialize. There are many different specialties to consider, such as planning weddings, conventions, or another type of event. You might prefer to plan fundraising events or work in the corporate world.

Specializing may earn you a higher salary. But, on the other hand, it can allow you to become an expert in your field. Consider which niche you prefer and market accordingly if you’re running your own event planning business.

Duties of an Event Planner

Yes, your main duty as an event planner will be to plan and coordinate the event. Within the main duties, however, you will have many other things to do, including:

Common Skills of Event Planners

As an event planner, you will need specific skills to help ensure you can keep the events running on schedule. Some of the most common skills for events planners include:

With these skills and plenty of creativity, you can help your clients bring their events to life.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an Event Planner

How much can I make as an event planner?

The average salary for an event planner is between $50K and $60K. However, many event planners run their own small businesses. Working for yourself can provide more financial stability and a higher income.

Is the event planning field growing?

Yes, experts predict there will be a bigger need for event planners in years to come. The event planning field is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029 and is expected to keep growing.

Do I need a license to become an event planner?

No. However, if you decide to work for yourself, you may need a business license from your state. This will depend on the state you live in and the requirements. For example, some states require you to have specific insurance to open your own business and meet other requirements.

What type of hours do event planners work?

Event planners don’t work a typical 9-to-5 job. They often work long hours, nights, and weekends. It will depend on when the events are happening and when clients are available for meetings.

What is the work environment like for an event planner?

You will likely work in an office, but also at many venues. It’s not uncommon for event planners to take meetings over lunch or at a coffee shop. Working in the office will likely include spending time on a computer and the phone with vendors and venues.

Of course, you will also need to be at many of your events. This means you will work in specific venues to ensure things run smoothly.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story takes more time. Coming soon!