Home / Career Guides / Event Planner

Event Planner Career Guide

What is an event planner?

Event planners handle everything involved with planning and running events. They work with vendors and venues and help clients figure out what they want for their events, including staying within their budget. These planners need to be creative and organized, with an eye for detail to make events special and memorable. They’re the go-to people for everything from company events to charity fundraisers, bringing ideas to life and making sure everything runs smoothly.

Duties and responsibilities

Event planners organize various events like parties, meetings, and conferences from start to finish. They pick the right venue, arrange food, manage entertainment, and handle travel and stay for guests. They also take care of marketing the events using tools like social media and email. Plus, they need to keep their clients happy and stay updated with the latest event trends.

Work environment

Event planners can work in different fields, like hotels, nonprofits, or corporations. They might work in an office but often have to step out to meet vendors or pick up supplies. It’s a team job, but a lot of it involves running around and making decisions on the go.

Typical work hours

Event planners often work beyond the usual 9-to-5, including evenings and weekends, depending on when the events are scheduled. While they do spend a lot of time planning during regular hours, event days are long and might require them to work at the actual event times.

How to become an event planner

Want to plan cool events and make every party unforgettable? Here’s how to get started:

Step 1: Understand what an event planner does

As an event planner, you’ll handle everything from picking venues, managing money, and working with vendors to making sure the actual event goes off without a hitch. You’ll need to get what your clients want and deliver awesome experiences.

Step 2: Get educated

You don’t always need a specific degree, but studying event management or hospitality can be super helpful. These courses teach you the basics of organizing events and managing projects. No related degree? No problem. You can still take specific event planning courses online or attend workshops.

Step 3: Take online courses

Kickstart your learning with these online courses:

Step 4: Develop your skills

Being organized, a good communicator, and a problem solver are key. You can sharpen these skills by interning, volunteering, or working in jobs like admin support or customer service.

Step 5: Gain practical experience

Try to get internships or volunteer for event planning roles. This hands-on experience is gold—it helps you learn the ropes, build a portfolio, and meet people in the industry.

Step 6: Network, network, network

Meet people in the biz through industry conferences, professional groups, or online communities. Networking can open doors and keep you in the loop on event trends.

Step 7: Get certified (optional)

While it’s not required, getting certified (like the CMP or CSEP) can boost your job prospects and show you’re serious about your career.

Step 8: Start applying

Ready to go pro? Apply for event planning jobs. Make sure your resume and cover letter show off your planning skills and any event experience you’ve racked up.

Step 9: Pick a specialty (optional)

Thinking about focusing on weddings, corporate gatherings, or charity events? Specializing can make you a go-to expert in that area, possibly leading to more gigs and better pay.

How much do event planners make?

Lots of factors can influence an event planner’s income. The type of events they manage is a significant determinant of their earnings. For example, planners specializing in corporate events or high-end weddings typically command higher fees. Their geographic location also matters, with those in larger cities and high-income areas usually earning more due to a higher demand for upscale events.

Experience and reputation in the industry can significantly impact their income as well, with those with a proven track record of managing successful events typically earning more. They may also earn more if they have specific skills or certifications, such as a CMP designation.

Highest paying industries

  • Technology: $67,000
  • Wedding:  $58,000
  • Trade Shows: $56,000
  • Fundraising: $52,000
  • Federal Government: $50,000

Highest paying states

  • New York: $62,000
  • District of Columbia: $61,000
  • Virginia: $59,000
  • Massachusetts: $58,000
  • California: $57,000

Browse event planner salary data by market

Types of event planners

Event planning isn’t just one thing—it’s a bunch of different jobs depending on what kind of parties or events you’re into. Here’s a quick look at the types of event planners out there:

  • Corporate event planner: These planners make business events happen, like big meetings, trade shows, and team-building stuff. They need to understand the company’s vibe and goals to pull off events that boost the business.
  • Wedding planner: Dream weddings don’t plan themselves. Wedding planners work with couples to turn their wedding dreams into reality, managing everything from budget to booking photographers and florists.
  • Social event planner: If you love throwing parties, this is for you. Social event planners organize fun private events like birthdays, anniversaries, and reunions, making sure everything from the theme to the logistics is spot-on.
  • Nonprofit event planner: These planners help charities and nonprofit groups throw fundraising events and galas. They’re all about creating big moments that draw attention and donations without blowing the budget.
  • Festival and concert planner: Love music and festivals? These planners set up big music or cultural festivals, dealing with everything from artist line-ups to the logistics of where everyone’s going to park.
  • Sports event planner: From local tournaments to big races, sports event planners organize events that keep athletes and fans pumped. They coordinate with everyone involved to make sure the event is a win.
  • Exhibition and trade show planner: These planners run industry-specific shows where businesses show off their latest products. They manage everything from booth setups to making sure all the attendees have a good time and the businesses get to shine.
  • Destination event planner: Imagine planning parties in places like Bali or Paris! Destination event planners organize events in awesome locations, handling all the tricky stuff like travel arrangements and working with local vendors to make sure guests have an amazing time.

Top skills for event planners

Want to be a top event planner? Here are the skills you’ll definitely need:

  • Organization: Keeping everything on track is critical. Being super organized means you can manage all your tasks without breaking a sweat.
  • Creativity: Got cool ideas? You’ll need them to dream up awesome themes, decorations, and fun things to do at events. 
  • Communication: You’ll be the go-to person for pretty much everyone involved in an event. Whether chatting with clients, making deals with vendors, or guiding your team, clear communication is your best friend.
  • Problem-solving: No event goes perfectly, so you need to be quick on your feet. Your job is to fix things fast and keep the event on track.
  • Attention to detail: The little things really matter. Checking that the venue is set up just right, making sure the food meets everyone’s dietary needs, and ensuring every part of the event is spot-on are what make an event truly special.

These skills will help you throw amazing events that everyone will remember. If you love organizing, coming up with great ideas, and tackling challenges, event planning could be the perfect job for you! 

Event planner career path

Thinking about a career in event planning? Here’s how you can climb the ladder from newbie to pro:

Starting out

Early in your career, you might help out with different parts of events, like setting up, talking to vendors, or managing who comes to the party. These are great ways to learn the ropes and see what part of event planning you like best.

Move up to coordinator or manager

Once you’ve got some experience, you could become an event coordinator or manager. Now you’re in charge of making sure everything about an event goes well, from the first idea to the last guest leaving. You might handle big corporate events, fancy weddings, or major conferences.

Consider getting certified

While you’re gaining experience, think about getting a certification from a place like the Events Industry Council. This can make you stand out and show you’re serious about your career.

Aim for the top spots

As you keep building your skills, you could move up to be a senior event manager or even a director of events. These big roles mean you’re making the big decisions about budgets, contracts, and your event team.

Be your own boss

With lots of experience and a solid track record, you might decide to start your own event planning business or take a top job at a big organization. Now you’re the boss, running your own shows and maybe even managing a team of your own.

Event planning is a career that’s really picking up steam. If you’re all about creating unforgettable events, there’s good news—the need for talented event planners is on the rise!

  • Going green: These days, everyone wants to keep things eco-friendly. Event planners are working to make parties and meetings as green as possible, doing things like cutting down on waste, using less energy, and choosing sustainable options.
  • Making it personal: People don’t just want a one-size-fits-all event anymore; they want something special and personalized. Planners must keep up with all the latest trends and find ways to tailor events specifically to what clients and guests want. 

Employment projections

Looking at the numbers, jobs for event planners are expected to grow by 8% through 2032. That’s faster than a lot of other jobs out there. This means more opportunities to jump in and start planning events that people will be talking about for years to come.

Event planner career tips

Get organized

Events have a lot of moving parts—vendors, guest lists, schedules—you name it. Develop a system to keep everything in check. Being organized isn’t just helpful; it’s essential to make sure your events go off without a hitch.

Make friends with vendors

A strong network of suppliers and vendors can make your job a lot easier. Build good relationships to get the best stuff for your events. Sometimes, knowing the right people can even snag you a sweet deal!

Be ready for anything

Things will go wrong. That’s just part of the job. Whether it’s a last-minute change or a no-show vendor, your ability to quickly come up with a plan B is what can save the day.

Event planning changes all the time, from decor styles to the coolest new tech. Stay in the know by reading industry blogs, hitting up trade shows, and following top event planners. This will help you throw events that are totally trending.

Network like a pro

Knowing people helps—a lot. Connect with other event planners and professionals in related fields. Join groups like Meeting Professionals International (MPI) or the International Live Events Association (ILEA) to meet others in the biz.

Never stop learning

The best planners keep learning to stay ahead. Whether it’s a workshop, a seminar, or an online course, keep adding to your skills. You might even consider getting certifications like CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) or CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional).

Negotiate like a boss

A big part of your job will be making deals. Whether hammering out contract details or locking down the perfect venue, your negotiation skills will be key to getting what you want at the price you need.

Mind the details

The little things can make or break an event. From the perfect lighting to ensuring the schedule is spot-on, the details often leave the biggest impressions.

Where the event planner jobs are

Top companies

  • The Knot Worldwide
  • Eventbrite
  • Cvent
  • FreemanXP
  • MaritzCX

Top states

  • California
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Illinois

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • Monster
  • CareerBuilder
  • LinkedIn


What education and qualifications are required to become an event planner?

To become an event planner, a bachelor’s degree in event management, hospitality, communications, or a related field is typically preferred, though not always required. Relevant work experience in event planning or the hospitality industry is also valuable. Professional certifications, such as the CMP or CSEP, can further enhance your qualifications.

What are the primary responsibilities of an event planner?

Event planners are responsible for coordinating and executing various types of events, such as weddings, conferences, and corporate functions. Primary responsibilities include selecting and booking venues, managing budgets, coordinating with vendors and suppliers, developing event timelines, ensuring compliance with regulations, and handling logistical aspects, such as transportation and accommodations.

How can an event planner stay informed about industry trends and best practices?

Staying educated about industry trends and best practices involves reading industry publications, attending conferences and workshops, participating in webinars, and networking with other professionals. Joining professional associations, such as the International Live Events Association (ILEA) or the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), can also provide valuable insights, resources, and learning opportunities.

How does an event planner collaborate with vendors and suppliers?

An event planner collaborates with vendors and suppliers by negotiating contracts, communicating event requirements and expectations, managing timelines, and ensuring the delivery of high-quality products and services. Building solid relationships and maintaining open lines of communication are key to successful collaboration.

What is the role of an event planner in risk management?

In risk management, an event planner is responsible for identifying, assessing, and mitigating potential risks that could impact the success of an event. These may include risks related to weather, security, health, and safety, or vendor performance. Developing contingency plans and closely monitoring event activities can minimize potentially negative outcomes.

How can an event planner measure the success of an event?

Measuring the success of an event involves collecting feedback from attendees, clients, and vendors. It also entails analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) such as attendance, revenue, and social media engagement. Post-event surveys, focus groups, and social media monitoring can provide valuable insights into the overall event experience and areas for improvement.

What are the career growth opportunities for an event planner?

Career growth opportunities for an event planner may include moving into senior or management roles, such as event director or operations manager, or specializing in a specific niche, such as corporate events, weddings, or trade shows. Some also launch their event planning businesses or transition to related fields, such as marketing or public relations.

How can an event planner improve their negotiation skills?

Improving negotiation skills involves understanding the needs and interests of both parties, researching market rates and industry standards, developing a clear strategy, and being prepared to compromise. Participating in negotiation workshops, seeking feedback from peers, and observing experienced negotiators can also help enhance negotiation skills.

How can an event planner ensure the smooth execution of an event on the day of the event?

To ensure everything goes smoothly on the event day, an event planner should create a detailed event timeline, assign roles and responsibilities to team members, maintain open communication with vendors and staff, and be prepared to address any unforeseen issues or changes. Regularly monitoring event activities and staying flexible and adaptable can help ensure a successful event.