Are you trying to decide what to do with the rest of your life — or at least what you want to do for your career? Do you have strong organizational skills, a creative approach to problem-solving, the ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines, and love working with people? Event planning careers should be at the top of your list!
Jobs within event planning careers
There are several types of jobs in the event planning marketplace, but most jobs fall into four main categories:
- In-house corporate event planner
- In-house nonprofit event planner
- Independent or third-party event planner
- Event coordinator at a hotel or facility
You have plenty of time to decide which specific job is the right fit for you. Additionally, you can move around and try the different jobs if you have the right experience and education.
Before you put too much time and effort into a career in event planning, give it a try and see what you like about it and what you don’t. Volunteer for events in your area, especially for companies or organizations you are interested in or passionate about. You will learn the hours required, the type of job skills, leadership qualities and overall energy of event planning.
You can also contact local event management companies, corporations or conference hosts to see if you can shadow an event planner for a day or work an event for them at a free or low wage. This helps you get experience and shows the company you are willing to put in the time and work hard for possible future employment.
Once you truly understand what event planning careers entail, the next best step is pursuing a college degree in this area. A bachelor’s degree in hospitality, tourism, communications or public relations will provide a solid foundation for this career path.
Over the past 10 years, many colleges and universities have begun to offer hospitality programs with a concentration in event planning.
Business management and marketing are also helpful degrees in event planning. Most degree programs now cover related technology, including mobile apps, online registration, online seating charts, check-in apps and other software.
An important part of most event planning degree programs is internships. On-the-job training while earning required college credits is part of an internship. Some internships are paid and some are not.
An important aspect of your internship is what you are learning. Will that knowledge help you land your first job in your event planning career? A good internship should give you insight into all aspects of event planning, from the sales process to the operations and the fulfillment of the event. This will help you understand where you might fit best in the events world. Most hospitality programs require you to complete more than one internship with different management levels and job descriptions.
It’s a good idea to start networking in college. You want to build your support group of industry contacts, so when you’re ready for your first job (or your next job), people will know who you are and that you can be a trusted resource or staff member for them.
Networking gives you the opportunity to begin showing you are engaged and can provide value in this field. There are several organizations for those pursuing event planning careers, including:
- International Live Events Association
- Meeting Professionals International
- American Society of Association Executives
Each of these organizations has chapters in major cities and provide professional development and certifications.
What to expect on the job
It used to be that employers were willing to train entry-level job seekers and provide opportunities for them to learn on the job. Today, it seems like employers are looking for new hires who are ready to hit the ground running with little to no training from the company on the specific skills of the position. This means you have to get all of your training in school and in the internships that you select.
There are many online sessions, seminars and webinars that can provide additional training.
Some entry-level jobs include sales and/or administrative duties. All of these responsibilities help to build your qualifications and expertise.
An event planner can expect to earn an average salary of between $30,000 and $50,000, depending on:
- The type of company or organization
- Organizational structure (non-profit vs. corporate)
- Location of the business
You should consider additional benefits provided — such as insurance, vacation days, earned time off (work a weekend and get a weekday off to compensate), fitness stipend, etc. — as part of your total compensation package.
Start your event planning career
Event planning careers can be exciting, fun and rewarding. Yes, they involve long hours and hard work, but if you are passionate about creating memorable experiences, they’re very worth it. Knowing what to expect is the first step to a successful career in event planning!
Editor’s note: Looking for a job in event planning? Showcase your education and experience with an online portfolio that includes photos, testimonials and your resume. It takes less than an hour.