How to Become an Event Planner

Five Methods:Building Training and ExperienceFinding a JobGetting CertifiedDefining Your BrandSample Resume

Want to be part of a world-wide, $500-billion industry? [1] If you’re great with people, detail-oriented, budget-conscious and creative, you might want to explore a career as an event planner. Read on to learn how to make a go of it in this on-the-go field.

Method 1
Building Training and Experience

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    Get a hospitality degree. A bachelor's degree in hospitality can set you firmly on the path for a career as an event planner. In fact, some hospitality degree programs offer concentrations in event planning, so research each school's offerings closely.
    • Other degrees, such as communications or public relations, can be a good basis for a career in event planning. One of the strongest skills an event planner must have is communication, so this kind of background can be a wonderful foundation.
    • While a bachelor's degree typically takes four years to complete, there are also shorter, two-year associates degree programs in hospitality, travel and tourism and event planning that can be a good starting point in your training.
    • Even if you don't have a degree that's directly related, you can complete an event planning and management certificate program to transition into this field. Some of these programs allow students to specialize and focus on areas such as wedding, sports or entertainment planning.
    • The kinds of classes you can expect to take as part of your training may include special events marketing, facilities operations, media relations, cost control strategies, event coordination, risk management, economics and professional ethics.
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    Find a mentor. A mentor is someone who can teach, encourage and guide you in your career. Mentorship often develops from a relationship you already have in place or establish with someone you admire.
    • Think about what you want in a mentor. Do you need someone to model professional behavior? Do your financial management skills need work? Are you looking to become a more effective communicator? Approach people you already know who can share their knowledge with you. It may not necessarily be someone in your field; what's important is that you get what you need from the relationship.
    • You may gravitate toward someone as a mentor because he or she is successful, which also means they're busy. Before you ask someone to spend time helping you, think about how you can help them. Offer to pitch in on a project, organize their calendar, run errands--give something of value so that you can get something of value in return.
    • Consider peer-to-peer mentoring. You can find support and encouragement from others who have goals similar to yours. Start a Meetup group or create a club on campus where you can join with like-minded people to share information, accountability and successes.
    • Broaden your search. Alumni groups, networking events and professional organization meetings are all good places to get to know potential mentors.
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    Practice your skills. Chances are your interest in this field stems from skills you already have when it comes to putting together parties and organizing events. Step up now and volunteer to plan birthday parties, housewarmings, weddings and other get-togethers for family and friends.
    • Tons of volunteer organizations have annual events--runs, walks, fundraising dinners--that need to be planned. Reach out to volunteer agencies in your community to find out their needs and offer to take a leading role in putting together their event.
    • Document your practice. Take photos of place settings and decorations to put in your portfolio for later. Make copies of budgets and timelines, menus and invoices. Hold on to everything that shows the work that went into making the event a success.
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    Get feedback. After an event, ask participants for their feedback by having them complete a short (key: short) survey.
    • Make your survey part of your initial agreement. Consider your clients' feedback as compensation for your hard work and have them agree to answer a few questions at the conclusion of the event. Their comments--positive and negative--can be a valuable part of your learning process.
    • Eavesdrop. Listen to what people at the event are saying to one another in conversation. Make note of what people seem to enjoy ("This food is delicious." "The flowers are stunning.") as well as areas of disappointment ("Why isn't there a place for coats?" "We had to park so far away!")

Method 2
Finding a Job

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    Put together a portfolio. Having concrete examples of your work to show prospective employers lends you credibility and supports the impression that you are someone with knowledge and experience.
    • Keep records of any events you helped to plan. Hold on to photographs, sample invitations and professional references from clients and vendors attesting to your reliability and expertise. Put these in a professional-looking binder or case. If possible, scan them and have them available to send to prospective employers via email.
    • Prepare a professional resume on which you include your experience and education. Be sure to list volunteer assignments and professional and student organizations you are a part of.
    • Write an individualized cover letter for each job opening. There is no such thing as a "one-size-fits-all" cover letter. Customize you letter in a way that addresses the specific needs of the organization and how you can meet them.
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    Start networking. Tell everyone you know that you're looking for work and ask them to pass on any leads. You never know who someone else might know or what they might hear about a job opening.
    • Create a LinkedIn account. This social media site allows you to set up an account where you can post your resume, join industry groups and network with others in your field.
    • Keep track of classmates. If someone who was in your program lands a job, ask them how they did it and if there are more openings available at their new place of employment.
    • Have business cards made and keep them with you at all times. Business cards are relatively inexpensive and good to have on hand because you never know where or when you might run in to someone who can help you find a job.
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    Tap into the internet. So much job hunting is done online these days, that it's essential that you visit popular job sites. Also, certain professional organizations or specialty sites list jobs postings in the event management field, which allows you to use to focus your job-hunting efforts.
    •, and are popular pages to check for jobs; narrow your search by using key terms such as "event planner," "event management," "wedding planner," "event coordinator," or "hospitality."
    • The Meeting Professionals International website has an online Career Center where you can search for jobs ( Also check out and (the job site for the National Association of Catering Executives).
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    Pound the pavement. Research the event planning companies in your area and stop by to drop off your resume. Sometimes a personal approach--especially in this very people-oriented field--can make a difference.
    • Look your best and be professional when you visit. Be sure you know the name of the person in charge so that you can ask for a quick meeting with him or her. If a meeting isn't possible at that time, politely leave your resume and cover letter with the receptionist and plan to followup with a phone call in a few days.
    • Carry your portfolio with you in case you are successful in getting in to meet with someone who could hire you.
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    Consider working freelance or opening your own business. These may be steps you want to take after spending a few years working in the field, or you may be someone who already knows he or she would prefer to work for themselves.
    • Research the competition. See what event planning companies already exist in your area and what they specialize in. If you're able to distinguish yourself from the pack in some way, it can be an advantage in getting established and getting clients.
    • Talk to other freelancers or business owners. There's no need to learn everything the hard way. Tap into the experience of others who can help you avoid some of the pitfalls that can come with working on your own.
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    Keep trying. Finding a job in any field is difficult work. Persistence does pay off, so stay positive and keep at it.
    • Form a support group with friends who are also job hunting. Surrounding yourself with people who are in the same boat as you can lessen your feelings of isolation and disappointment during this process.
    • Celebrate small victories. An interview, a query, a callback--these are all positive things. Even if they don't lead to a job at the moment, they let you know you're on the right path and there's interest out there in who you are and what you have to offer.

Method 3
Getting Certified

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    Apply for certification with reputable event planning associations. You do not have to become certified to work as an event planner. But having that designation could open doors for you and certainly puts you in touch with other professionals who value high standards in the field.
    • A certification is a professional designation given by a trade organization and can only be obtained after you have a proven track record of professional experience and have successfully passed the organization's tests.[2]
    • The most recognized certifications are those offered by the Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP) offered by ISES; the Certified Meeting Professional (CIC), and the Certified Meeting Planner (MPI).[3]
    • Each program varies in the level of professional experience required, so you'll need to contact the organizations individually to find out if you meet the requirements.
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    Consider membership in a relevant trade organization as well; the benefit of belonging to trade organizations is that you'll meet many contacts and find job opportunities through networking and resources only available to members.
    • If you plan to specialize, look for specific trade organizations that focus on your area of expertise. For example, a wedding planner may want to check out a group such as the Association of Bridal Consultants and Weddings Beautiful Worldwide.
    • If you are or have been a student in a recognized event planning course, ask about possible membership discounts, as memberships can be pricey when you're first starting out.

Method 4
Defining Your Brand

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    Decide what you want to be known for. When you brand yourself, you're choosing how you want to been seen by others in the work world. Your brand incorporates what you do best and who you are.
    • Brainstorm a list of words that describe you--your persona, your outlook, your expertise. Use these to form the basis of your marketing and advertising programs.
    • Establish an online presence. People will be searching for the kinds of services you offer, so you want to make sure you're online in a way that's professional and helpful.
      • Create a Facebook page for your business. Post a professional-looking photo of yourself and post regularly about projects you are working on. Include photos of your events as well. (Be sure to get permission before posting any pictures that feature clients or guests.)
      • Start a blog. A blog can help you establish yourself as an expert in your field. Post small "how-to" articles to help readers, talk about events you've been working on, trends you've noticed and news from your field.
      • Open a Twitter account. Start discussions, voice your expert opinion, made predictions about what will be hot this season--keep it interesting and upbeat.
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    Network. If you want people to know who you are and what you do, you have to put yourself out there. Join professional organizations, attend trade shows and take part in continuing education seminars. These are all great ways to make connections and to spread the word about your services.
    • Consider forming alliances with others in related fields. Ran into an amazing florist? Met a great photographer? Be sure to let them know what you do and stay in touch--they may have business they can send your way and vice versa.
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    Keep chasing new ideas. Some of the basics of event planning never change--you have to be a great communicator, experienced budget planner and flawless with details. But styles change and trends need to be followed so that you can keep the look of projects current and fresh.
    • Keep updating. Read trade magazines to find out what's hot and take new classes and workshops to refresh your skills.
    • Follow fashion. Look at fashion, decorating and food magazines to learn what's in style. See what's popular on Pinterest. Staying up-to-date will help you avoid producing events that feel dated or stale.

Sample Resume

Sample Event Planner Resume


  • Get help choosing a legitimate formal event planning study program. Check with Meeting Professionals International before enrolling in any formal program. They can tell you whether the program offers the kind of education and training you’ll need to become certified.
  • Experience in catering is very useful and highly transferable to event planning.
  • It can be very helpful to be bilingual, such as speaking Spanish and English. If you are planning for diplomatic events, even more languages is a great advantage.
  • The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has suggested that planners with degrees and certification will do better than those without professional credentials.[4] The BLS found that the median annual salary for event and meeting planners in 2008 was $44,260, with those being paid the most living in areas with large concentrations of business and government, such as New York and the District of Columbia and Maryland.


  • Be very careful with online certificates. Some of them may be nothing more than a "certificate mill", teaching you little and rewarding you with a certificate that has little or no standing in the event planning world. Do your research beforehand to check the authenticity and reputation of the online study.
  • This is not a 9 to 5 job; you need to be very flexible, and available for weekdays, weeknights and weekends. This can be difficult if you're raising a young family or don't like being up late.
  • Learn early on how to have back-up plans. Having Plans B and C will save you from a lot of embarrassment and frustration when things inevitably don't go according to plan. Use "thinking on the spot" skills regularly.

Things You'll Need

  • Suitable training and qualifications
  • Business start-up funds if running your own event planning business

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