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How to Become an Event Planner

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Career Opportunities for Highly Organized Multi-Taskers

If you have excellent communications skills, love to organize, and can stay calm in the face of multi-tasking pressures, becoming an event planner might be right for you. Event planners coordinate the various aspects of social or business gatherings to assure that everything runs smoothly. You can find employment with organizations of all sizes. You might prefer the flexibility afforded by being self-employed. The choice is yours in this growing field.

Job Description

An event planner works closely with the client to determine the purpose and goals for the event. It could be a wedding, retirement party, business meeting, trade show or a convention. The event planner helps establish a budget, coordinates with the venue and vendors, and designs and stages the event. A large part of the event planner’s job is problem-solving. Accidents happen, details get forgotten, and mistakes are made. A good event planner thinks on her feet and uses her experience and expertise to find solutions quickly.

Education Requirements

Organizations that hire event planners typically look for a bachelor’s degree in hospitality, communications, public relations or a related field. If you’re going back to school, look for a hospitality program that offers a concentration in event planning, in which you can take courses in special events marketing, media relations and facilities operations. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you might consider completing an event planning and management certificate program. You can find these at some bricks-and-mortar colleges and online. Serving an apprenticeship or internship can help you gain valuable experience that may give you an edge in the job market. Excellent communications skills are a must.

A national survey of corporate human resources departments puts the average salary for event planners between $52,197 to $71,232. That’s an hourly wage of $25.09 to $34.25. Salaries vary widely depending on a number of factors. Event planners working for large corporations can expect to make more than someone coordinating events for a small non-profit. Location also matters. There are more opportunities, and better pay, in large metropolitan areas.

Self-employed planners generally work on a fee-per-event basis rather than an hourly wage. They set their own fees depending on factors such as experience and location. Top wedding planners, for example, can be selective about clients and can earn six figures. Remember, though, that it takes time to build your reputation. You won’t earn that much right away, but with hard work and in the right market, you’ll build your business. It helps if you can gain experience working for someone else first.

Industry Trends

Event planners work for restaurants and hotels, convention centers, sports arenas, corporations and non-profit organizations. They can also find employment with companies that specialize in planning events for clients. Event planning sub-specialties include trade shows and other corporate events, fundraisers, weddings and parties.

Event planners may have to travel to scout locations for upcoming events. They may be required to work long hours on-site when an event is taking place. Depending on the type of event, work at night and on weekends and holidays may also be required.

Years of Experience

Salaries for entry-level positions generally begin in the mid-$30s. Interns typically earn an average of $13.07 per hour. Experienced planners can find jobs paying $50,000 and upwards. Most organizations that hire full-time employees provide benefits packages that include health insurance, paid vacations and other incentives.

Job Growth Trend

Job outlook is better than average for event planners, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. One reason is the increase in the number of corporate events. When companies have offices all across the country, and even across the globe, in-person meetings are an important component in team-building and idea-sharing. Organizations, especially small ones, may not have the budget for an event planner on staff. Outsourcing the job is more cost-effective. Brides-to-be and those planning parties for birthdays, anniversaries or retirements may not have the time or the skills necessary to put together the event they have in mind. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the health care industry may offer some of the best job prospects because health care professionals must attend events regularly to maintain licensure. Event planners are needed to coordinate those meetings.