Organizing events that unite people in a shared goal or purpose is the central role of convention and event planners. The events that they facilitate range from business conventions to family reunions. Important occasions such as weddings, private parties, trade shows and professional conferences all require the expert planning and execution of convention and event planners. As such, these skilled professionals play a vital role in several sectors of the economy, and their value is increasingly recognized by employers nationwide.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a much higher rate of growth in employment opportunities for convention and event planners than the total rate of growth across all occupations in the coming years.
The BLS predicts the need for event planners will grow 33% through 2022, or three times the projected growth rate for all occupations. As companies expand globally and around the U.S., conferences, conventions and meetings become important events that bring people together face to face, the BLS said.
Despite the healthy rate of growth in employment opportunities for event and convention planners, the field is still competitive and expected to remain so, as it generally attracts more applicants than it can sustain. Candidates with advanced training and education in hospitality management, knowledge of social media and virtual-meeting software, and Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) training will most likely secure the best prospects.
Convention and event planners have responsibilities unique to each employer and occasion, but they generally include the following: confer with employers and clientele regarding each event; work with clients and event service providers, such as caterers and photographers; scout locations and arrange transportation to and from the event; hire, coordinate, and lead event staff members; establish event budgets and monitor all relevant financial transactions; enhance guest satisfaction during the event; and otherwise oversee all event-related planning, execution, delivery and logistics.
With the advent of sophisticated virtual-meeting platforms and software, many employers are also using event and convention planners to assess whether company meetings are best conducted online or in person.
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According to BLS, the median salary for an event planner was $46,500 in 2014 with the upper 10% of earners making $82,000, though pay varies by industry.
Business, political, professional and labor organizations are among the largest employers of event planners and paid an average of $56,600, the BLS said. Among other top employers of event planners, colleges and universities paid an average of $49,100 and companies specializing in traveler accommodations, the largest employer of event planners, paid an average of $47,500.
The skills and competencies required to become an event and convention planner are varied, and employers may show preference to applicants with degrees and/or professional certificates. Candidates who possess advanced training and education may also be given more responsibility than non-degreed peers upon entrance.
In addition, earning the Management Certificate in the Business of Hospitality can show a potential employer that you have what it takes to succeed in this industry. Event and convention planners or other industry workers ready to advance their careers may become more competitive by enrolling in a hospitality management certificate program; anyone interested in entering the field should also consider the same.
A hospitality management degree or professional certificate program typically establishes proficiency in hospitality information systems, including restaurant management systems; hospitality technology trends; marketing and sales principles; human resources; facility management; financial planning and budget analytics; and external and internal guest services.
Event and convention planners are effective communicators equally at home in front of a computer and behind a podium. On any given day, they may negotiate contracts with service providers, market events via social media and other online networking platforms, troubleshoot last-minute logistical issues for high-profile events, and run budget analytics on proprietary software. They think creatively under pressure and not only solve but anticipate and eliminate short-and long-term problems before they become an issue.
If this sounds like a day-in-the-life for you, then arm yourself with the right skills and credentials to enter the field of event and convention planning by enrolling in the Management Certificate in the Business of Hospitality from The School of Hospitality Business in the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, a recognized authority in hospitality business education, research and service. An exciting and fast-paced career in a burgeoning field awaits you.