Business Careers: Meeting and Event Planner

A meeting and event planner is a growing career that offers several different niches for bachelor’s degree holders. (1) These professionals are typically responsible for every aspect of an event from soliciting bids to finding the facility to overseeing the event. Effective planners use highly developed communications and marketing skills to coordinate event services, such as signs, caterers and security, and create promotional information. (1, 3)
How to Become a Meeting and Event Planner
There is not one clear-cut educational path for becoming a meeting and event planner; however, ONet Online notes that about half of workers had a bachelor’s degree in 2010. (1, 3) Four-year programs specifically in event management are scarce, but students could choose from several other majors, including business, tourism, hospitality management, foodservice management or marketing; some of which offer a concentration in event management or convention planning. (1, 3, 5) Regardless of the major, students should study customer and personal service, marketing techniques, strategic planning, leadership and human resources. Career specific topics in food management, event management and event technology are likely helpful. (4, 5)
Experience is probably also vital to this field. Planning meetings for a university club or completing an internship could provide the hands-on training for students to get their feet in the door. Experience could also help students bolster their resume by making them eligible for voluntary certification through a variety of associations, like the Convention Industry Council (CIC) and the Society of Government Meeting Professionals. In addition to the requirement of one to three years of experience, applicants for these certifications must pass an exam. (1, 3, 4, 5)
The field of meeting and event planning appears to be a goldmine of opportunities with a vastly expanding market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals will see a 33 percent employment growth from 2012-2022, which is much faster than the average– of 11 percent — for all occupations. (1) The average wages in May 2013 were $50,190, and one out of six workers was self-employed in 2012, according to the BLS. Jobs are most abundant in traveler accommodation, but the highest pay was available in oil and gas extraction. Listed below were the mean wages for the five industries with the highest employment in 2013. (2)
• Traveler Accommodation: $46,950
• Business, Professional, Labor, Political and Similar Organizations: $55,400
• Other Support Services: $53,400
• Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools: $48,250
• Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports and Similar Events: $47,590
Work Life
Meeting and event planners could work as corporate, government or event planners, to name a few. While much of their work is usually completed from the comfort of their office, travel is likely a large part of an event and meeting planner’s life. However, it could be quite enjoyable since some events are at tropical or exotic locations. This fast-paced – sometimes-demanding – career typically offers work on a full-time basis, but the hours could be long, extending into nights and weekends. (1, 4, 5)
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Meeting, Convention, and Event Planner, on the Internet at (visited October 12, 2014).
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2014-15 Edition, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, on the Internet at (visited October 12, 2014).
3. ONet Online, Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners, on the Internet at (visited October 12, 2014).
4. University of Central Florida, Hospitality Management, on the Internet at (visited October 12, 2014).
5. San Jose State University, Bachelor of Science in Hospitality, Tourism & Event Management, on the Internet at (visited October 12, 2014).