How to Become an Event Planner

How to Become an Event Planner: Career Path Guide

To become an event planner, you typically need post-secondary education in a related field, or work experience in an area that has allowed you to develop transferrable skills. Ideally, you have both.

 

If you want to become an event planner, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. Does the following describe you?

 

• Exceptional organizational and time management skills

• Ability to see projects through from conception to completion

• Interest in coordinating information and organizing events

• Ability to take and give orders

• Ability to remain composed while supervising busy events 

• Customer centered approach to work activities

• Interest in a career path that has the potential for self-employment

 

Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an event planner. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as salary expectations, an outline of the skills you’ll need, educational requirements, a list of possible employer types, and much more!

 

 

Education Needed to Become an Event Planner

There are no formal requirements for becoming an event planner, however those who hire event planners, be they employers or clients, generally prefer to hire event planners with relevant education.

 

For some employers, completion of a continuing education or certificate course in event planning or management may be sufficient. These courses typically range widely in cost, and range in duration from one weekend to one year.

 

Other employers however, require event planners to have a degree or diploma in event planning/management, event or business administration, tourism and hospitality administration, communication or public relations, in order to be considered for a job as an event planner.

 

Success Tip: the more education you have that is relevant to event planning, the more marketable you will be to employers.

 

 

 

What is an Event Planner?

Events planners (also known as event organizers, conference planners, and event coordinators) are responsible for planning one-time events, like parties, or events that are longer in duration, such as week-long conferences. They are responsible for the coordination and organization of event staff, event transportation, event venues, as well as material effects like food, drink and decorations.

 

Event planners may plan a variety of different types of events, or may specialize in one type of event, such as:

 

• Conferences

• Conventions

• Meetings

• Exhibitions

• Trade shows

• Festivals

• Weddings

 

 

Event Planner Job Description 

Event planners must oversee the planning of the event from its early stages, straight through to overseeing the event on the day it is held. At the beginning of the planning stage, an event planner must work with their client to determine the material needs of the event, staffing needs, and budget.

 

The event planner must then source vendors and venues, prepare cost estimates, negotiate prices, make venue and equipment reservations, and keep the client informed. On the day of the event, the event planner is typically responsible for overseeing the event staff, and ensuring the event runs smoothly.

 

 

Event Planner Job Duties

The job duties of an event planner can vary quite a bit, typically depending on their level of responsibility, whether they work as an employee of an organization or as a freelancer, as well as the type of event the are planning. In general however, an event planner is responsible for performing the following duties:

 

• May be responsible for marketing event planning services (if self-employed)

• May be responsible for preparing a business budget (if self-employed)

• Meet with sponsors to establish budgets

• Prepare estimated costs and quotes for clients

• Plan entertainment for participants

• Liaise with organizing committees to review administrative procedures and progress of event planning

• Ensure event and surrounding activities are compliant with local by-laws and regulations

• Maintain financial records

• Develop professional relationships with vendors and suppliers

• Maintain list of industry contacts

• Recruit, hire, train and support event staff

• Ensure event runs smoothly and resolve any problems that may arise

• Coordinate such services as participant transportation, accommodation, special needs requirements, security, signage and audio-visual equipment

 

 

Experience Needed to Become an Event Planner

Having practical experience in organizing and planning events is a definite asset if you want to become an event planner. There are many ways to gain this experience. One way is to gain experience as part of a job role in a position with some of the same duties and responsibilities as an event planner.

 

For example, those who work as personal assistants, purchasers, marketing coordinators or human resources coordinators often perform duties similar to those of events coordinators, such as:

 

• Negotiating purchase contracts with suppliers

• Scheduling and planning meetings and presentations

• Working within specified budgets

• Arranging services like the delivery of audio-visual equipment

 

Another way to gain experience related to event planning is by working in an entry-level planning jobs. Working as an event planning assistant, either directly for an independent event planner, or for an events management company, is a great way to learn while on the job. Working in an entry-level capacity for such as employer would allow you to work into planning events yourself as your experience grows.

 

Landing an internship or other form of work-integrated learning opportunity (paid or for school credit) is another great way to develop event planning skills while you are still a student, or as a recent graduate. 

 

Success Tip: Employers and clients increasingly prefer to hire event planners with a combination of relevant work experience and education.

 


 

 

Characteristics Needed to Become an Event Planner

In order to enjoy performing the duties of an event planner, you need to have certain personality traits. Taking enjoyment from your job duties is important, as it helps you maintain a positive attitude towards your work, which can lead to having a long and successful career.

 

• The stamina and energy to work long hours when required

• Composure; able to make quick decisions while remaining calm under pressure

• Must act professionally in a variety of situations

• Enjoy speaking with people

• Enjoy coordinating information and activities

• A customer-centered approach to work activities

• Self-motivation and determination 

 

 

Skills Needed to Become an Event Planner

When hiring event planners, employers and clients will typically look for candidates with the following skills:

 

• Able to listen closely and discern needs

• Able to take and give orders

• Able to effectively manage multiple clients and projects simultaneously

• Excellent organizational and time management skills

• Excellent budget management and negotiation skills

• Excellent communication and presentation skills

• Able to work effectively with all sorts of people

• Able ability to form professional relationships

• Able to work well under pressure and make responsible decisions quickly

• Knowledge of how to keep an audience engaged

 

 

Who Creates Jobs for Event Planners?

Event planners may be employed as an in-house employee of an organization, or be hired as a freelance contractor by a client. Whether as an employee or as a freelance contractor, an event planner may be hired on a temporary, contractual or permanent basis by the following types of organizations:

 

• Convention and conference centres

• Educational institutions

• Event and conference planning companies

• Festival and event associations

• Hotels and resorts

• Municipal, regional and federal government agencies

• Not-for-profit organizations

• Private businesses

• Private citizens

• Tourism associations

• Trade and professional associations

 

 

Event Planner Jobs

Our job board below has "Event Planner" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Event Planner Salary: How Much Do Event Planners Earn?

The salary level of event planners can vary greatly; some may earn an inconsistent and fluctuating income, while others may earn a more stable and reliable income. It largely depends on what kind of employment structure they have.

 

For example, some event planners may work as part-time or full-time employees of an organization, in which case they are likely to earn a more consistent income, whereas other event planners may work as freelancers and self-employed contractors, in which case they may earn an income that is reflective of the amount of work they are able to secure, the amount they charge for their services, as well as the amount of services they offer to a client.

 

Regardless of their employment structure, the amount they earn may also be influenced by the following factors:

 

• Their level of aptitude and the quality of their portfolio

• The size and type of their employer/client

• The region in which they work

 

Event Planner Salary Alberta: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Conference and Event Planners occupational group earn an average salary of $46,854 per year.

 

Event Planner Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadian workers in the Conference and Event Planners occupational group is $41,698 per year.

 

Event Planner Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners occupational group is $45,810 per year.

 

 

Careers Similar to Event Planner

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Event Planner, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.

 

Interior Designer

Purchasing Manager

Retail Buyer

Volunteer Coordinator

Wedding Planner

 

 

Interview with an Event Planner

Do you want to hear what a career as an event planner is like, from the perspective of someone working in the field? Read the interview we've conducted with Chelsea, an event planner with River City Events in Edmonton, Alberta.

 

 

Event Planner Career: References

To find out more about what an event planner does, how much they earn, and other details of this career, please consult the following resources:

 

Alberta Learning and Information Service website: alis.alberta.ca

National Careers Service website: nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov

The Balance website: www.thebalance.com

 

 

Scholarships for Becoming an Event Planner

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming an Event Planner can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.

 

Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!

 

 

Becoming an Event Planner: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming an event planner. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!

 


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