What is an event planner?
Event planners oversee all of the tasks throughout the event planning process. They work closely with vendors and owners of venue locations. These professionals also work with clients to identify their event needs and budget and assist them throughout the day(s) of the event.
Their value lies in their ability to create memorable experiences. They have an eye for detail, outstanding organizational skills, and a creative mind to design events that resonate with the intended audience. Whether planning a corporate event to boost employee morale or a public event to raise funds for a charity, they are instrumental in creating events that inspire, entertain, and bring people together.
The ideal candidate for this role will have experience managing teams and excellent time management and planning skills. It’s essential to be a great communicator, organized, and able to strategically and creatively stay under budget. They must be able to create cost-effective ideas for an event and bring them to life on time.
Duties and responsibilities
The primary responsibilities of an event planner involve creating and managing special occasions, parties, meetings, conferences, and more. They work with clients and vendors to plan and execute events, from initial concept to final execution.
These professionals manage all aspects of an event, including venue selection, catering, entertainment, transportation, and accommodations. They may also coordinate event marketing and promotional activities, such as social media campaigns and email newsletters.
In addition to their event-related responsibilities, planners may also be responsible for managing client relationships and ensuring that events meet their expectations. They must stay current with trends and best practices in event planning and management and participate in ongoing professional development and learning opportunities.
Event planners work in a variety of industries, such as hospitality, nonprofit, and corporate events. They may occasionally work in an office environment, collaborating with other event professionals and stakeholders to plan and execute events.
Professionals who plan events work as part of a team but are not often in an office setting. Running errands for event supplies and setting up meetings with different vendors to identify which vendor can provide the right services at the right price are frequent tasks they perform.
The job can be highly stressful due to tight deadlines and high expectations for each event to run perfectly. However, it can also be gratifying and exciting, as no two events are the same, and the job often involves constant creativity and social interaction.
Typical work hours
The work hours for an event planner can be irregular and long, especially as the event date approaches. If you are planning an event for the evening, you will need to be working that evening at the event.
You may frequently work on weekends because many special events take place on weekend days, and you’ll need to be there to oversee the event. Apart from these evening and weekend hours, the majority of the actual planning of the event will happen during normal business hours of 8 AM to 5 PM.
How to become an event planner
This section will describe the path to a career in event planning. Following these steps can lay the foundation for a rewarding career as an event planner.
Step 1: Understand the role and responsibilities
An event planner is responsible for coordinating all aspects of an event. Your tasks will include selecting and booking venues, managing budgets, coordinating vendors, creating event schedules, and ensuring everything runs smoothly on the event day. You’ll also work closely with clients to understand their needs, preferences, and expectations to create memorable experiences.
Step 2: Obtain the necessary education
While a specific degree is not always required, a bachelor’s degree in event management, hospitality, or a related field can be beneficial. These programs provide a solid foundation in event planning principles, project management, and other essential concepts. Alternatively, aspiring planners with degrees in other fields can consider taking event planning courses or workshops to gain relevant knowledge.
Step 3: Take online courses
An excellent way to learn the skills you’ll need to become a successful event planner is to take online courses.
- Udemy offers a course in event management for beginners — perfect for people who are new to the field.
- Another popular course on Udemy will teach you how to plan and market successful events.
- Skillshare has a course for learning how to successfully plan events and weddings.
Step 4: Develop relevant skills
Successful planners possess a range of skills, including strong organizational, communication, problem-solving, and time management abilities. Excellent ways to develop these skills include participating in internships, volunteering, or working in related roles, such as administrative or customer service positions.
Step 5: Gain practical experience
Hands-on experience is crucial. Seek internships, part-time jobs, or volunteer opportunities that involve planning and organizing events. These experiences will help you develop your event planning skills, build a portfolio, and establish connections within the industry.
Step 6: Build a strong network
Networking is essential for career advancement in the event planning field. Attend industry conferences, join professional associations, and connect with peers and mentors to expand your network. Building strong relationships with other professionals can lead to new opportunities and help you stay informed about the latest trends and best practices in event planning.
Step 7: Obtain professional certification (optional)
While not always required, obtaining a professional certification, such as the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) or Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) certification, can enhance your career prospects and demonstrate your commitment to the field. These certifications typically require a combination of education, experience, and successful completion of an exam.
Step 8: Apply for event planning positions
Once you have gained the necessary education and experience, start applying for event planning positions. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your event planning skills, relevant coursework, and hands-on experience in organizing events.
Step 9: Consider specializing in a specific event type (optional)
Some planners choose to specialize in a specific type of event, such as weddings, corporate events, or nonprofit fundraisers. Specializing can help you build expertise and establish a reputation within a particular niche, potentially leading to more business and higher-paying clients.
How much do event planners make?
Various factors can influence an event planner’s income. The type of events managed is a significant determinant of their earnings. For instance, planners specializing in corporate events or high-end weddings typically command higher fees. 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, 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
Types of event planners
Event planning is a diverse field with various specializations catering to specific occasions and industries. You can choose a niche in this role based on your interests, skills, and experience. In this career guide section, we will explore the different types of event planners, highlighting their unique responsibilities and areas of expertise.
Corporate event planner
Corporate event planners specialize in organizing events for businesses and corporations. They coordinate conferences, trade shows, seminars, product launches, and team-building events. These professionals must be skilled in understanding corporate culture, branding, and objectives to create successful events that align with a company’s goals.
Wedding planners focus on designing and executing weddings for couples. They collaborate with clients to understand their vision and preferences, manage budgets, and coordinate with various vendors, such as caterers, photographers, and florists, to ensure a seamless and memorable event.
Social event planner
Social event planners organize private events, such as birthday parties, anniversaries, reunions, and other social gatherings. Professionals in this role are responsible for conceptualizing themes, coordinating vendors, and managing logistics to create enjoyable guest experiences.
Nonprofit event planner
Nonprofit event planners work with nonprofit organizations to plan and execute fundraising events, galas, and other functions to raise awareness and support for a cause. These professionals must be adept at managing budgets and coordinating with sponsors, donors, and volunteers to ensure successful events that contribute to the organization’s mission.
Festival and concert planner
Festival and concert planners are responsible for organizing large-scale music, art, or cultural events. Their key responsibilities are overseeing logistics, coordinating with artists and performers, managing budgets, and working with vendors to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for attendees.
Sports event planner
Sports event planners specialize in planning and executing sporting events, such as tournaments, races, and competitions. They coordinate with athletes, teams, sponsors, and venue managers to ensure successful events that meet the needs of all stakeholders.
Exhibition and trade show planner
Exhibition and trade show planners focus on organizing industry-specific events where companies can showcase their products and services to potential clients, partners, and investors. Their key tasks include managing logistics, coordinating with exhibitors and attendees, and ensuring the event aligns with the objectives of the hosting organization.
Destination event planner
Destination event planners specialize in planning events in specific locations, often in international or exotic settings. These professionals work with clients to create unique experiences, coordinate with local vendors, and manage logistics for attendees, such as travel and accommodations.
Top skills for event planners
This section outlines the primary skills and traits needed for career success as an event planner. The following descriptions provide insights into the abilities anyone aspiring to this role should focus on developing.
Organizational expertise is at the core of their skill set. It is necessary to coordinate various elements such as venue booking, catering, entertainment, and transportation, often juggling multiple tasks simultaneously. The ability to plan and orchestrate complex projects ensures successful and well-run events.
Creativity is another essential skill for planners to develop innovative ideas for event themes, decor, and programs to create unique and engaging experiences for attendees. Whether finding a unique venue, imagining a compelling event theme, or brainstorming engaging activities, creativity is key to making an event stand out.
Excellent communication skills are crucial. They liaise with clients, vendors, staff, and attendees, often acting as the central point of contact. This involves effectively conveying expectations and requirements, negotiating contracts, and addressing any concerns or issues. Communicating clearly and effectively helps ensure all stakeholders are on the same page and contributes to the smooth execution of events.
Problem-solving abilities are key for these professionals. Despite careful planning, unexpected issues are almost a given in event planning. Whether it’s a last-minute change in venue, a vendor cancellation, or inclement weather, they need to think on their feet and come up with quick solutions to keep the event on track.
Attention to detail
Lastly, attention to detail is a must-have skill to ensure that every aspect of the event, no matter how small, is taken care of. From verifying the correct setup of venues to double-checking dietary restrictions for catering, it’s the small details that often make the biggest difference in the success of an event. This meticulousness helps create a positive experience for attendees and a successful outcome for the event.
Event planner career path
The career path to becoming an event planner often begins with acquiring a degree in a relevant field such as hospitality, communications, public relations, or marketing. Early career roles could involve working in various aspects of event organization, such as assisting with event coordination, working with vendors, or managing guest lists.
As they gain experience, individuals might take on roles with greater responsibility, such as event coordinator or manager, overseeing multiple aspects of event planning from concept to execution. This could involve planning corporate events, weddings, conferences, or other special events. During this time, gaining certification from a recognized industry organization like the Events Industry Council can enhance their professional standing and prospects.
From there, professionals may progress to senior roles such as senior event manager or director of events. These roles involve greater strategic responsibilities, including overseeing budgets, negotiating contracts, and managing event teams.
Finally, after gaining significant experience and demonstrating a high level of expertise, an individual might take on a role as an event director at a larger organization or even start their own event planning business. In these roles, they would be responsible for overseeing all aspects of event planning and execution and potentially managing a team of event professionals.
Similar job titles
Position trends and outlook for event planners
The outlook for this profession is optimistic, with a growing demand for creative and innovative professionals who can craft memorable experiences for their clients.
Sustainability and social responsibility have become important considerations for event planners. Clients and attendees are increasingly looking for eco-friendly events. As a result, planners must prioritize minimizing waste, reducing carbon footprints, and promoting sustainable practices throughout the event planning process.
Another key trend is the focus on personalization and unique experiences. Professionals who plan events must stay informed about the latest industry trends and strive to create events that cater to their clients’ and attendees’ specific needs and preferences. This may involve incorporating interactive elements, embracing diverse and inclusive practices, and offering customizable experiences.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for event planners is projected to grow 8 percent through 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.
Event planner career tips
Hone your organizational skills
Event planning requires meticulous organization. From handling vendor contracts to managing guest lists, you’ll need to keep track of numerous details simultaneously. Developing a system for managing these details effectively and keeping everything organized is key to ensuring that events run smoothly.
Cultivate strong vendor relationships
Having a reliable network of suppliers and vendors is essential for any event planner. Cultivating these relationships can help you get the best quality services and products for your events. Good relationships can also lead to better deals and priority service.
Be adaptable and flexible
Despite the best planning, unexpected challenges are bound to arise. The ability to think on your feet and adapt quickly is essential. Whether it’s a last-minute change from a client or a vendor cancellation, your ability to find quick solutions can save the day.
Stay updated on industry trends
From design trends to new technologies, the event planning industry is constantly evolving. Staying updated on these trends can help you create innovative, memorable events that stand out. Regularly read industry publications, attend trade shows, and follow influential planners to stay on top of the latest trends.
Build a professional network
Networking can open up new opportunities, provide valuable insights, and help you stay on top of industry trends. You should aim to build relationships with other professionals both within and outside your industry. Relevant professional associations and networks include:
- Meeting Professionals International (MPI)
- International Live Events Association (ILEA)
- The Event Planners Association (EPA)
- National Association for Catering and Events (NACE)
Commit to continuous learning
Event planning methods, technologies, and best practices are constantly evolving. To stay ahead, you should commit to continuous learning. This could involve:
- Attending workshops and seminars focused on event planning
- Pursuing further qualifications, such as CMP or CSEP
- Participating in webinars and online courses on platforms like Coursera or edX
Develop strong negotiation skills
Negotiation is a key part of event planning. Whether you’re negotiating contracts with vendors, securing venues, or managing client expectations, strong negotiation skills can help you get the best outcome for all parties involved.
Pay attention to detail
The success of an event often lies in the details. Everything from the choice of venue to the timing of the agenda can have a big impact on how well the event is received. You should have an eye for detail and the ability to simultaneously manage multiple elements to ensure a successful event.
Where the event planner jobs are
- The Knot Worldwide
- New York
Top job sites
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.