Careers In Event Planning: So You Want To Be An Event Planner?
If you have ever planned a large party or event, you know the amount of work that goes into making it run smoothly. From coordinating logistics, to planning the menu, booking travel, vendors, entertainment and so much more – it can be overwhelming. But for a professional event planner, this is a piece of cake. If you get energized just thinking about planning an event, then you may be a great candidate for this exciting, dynamic career!
Grace Under Pressure – Do You Have What It Takes?
Successful event planners are detail-oriented, excellent communicators, can manage a budget, have creative flair, and perform well under pressure. Having an outgoing personality, and the ability to build strong business relationships, is also a must. On top of that, event planners must be tech savvy and comfortable using social media.
A word of caution should be noted as this job sees its share of burnout and turnover. If you are looking for a nine-to-five schedule and prefer your job tasks to be the same every day, this won’t be a good fit. However, if you are driven by deadlines, thrive on a fast-pace and the reward of seeing your hard work flawlessly unfold into a fabulous event, keep reading.
Employment Prospects Are Promising
One of the reasons this career is so enticing is the diversity of job opportunities such as managing conferences and trade shows, weddings, street festivals, sporting events, incentive travel and charity fundraising galas. Event planners are typically hired by corporations, hotels, business associations, conference centres, charitable organizations and destination marketing organizations, but many are also self-employed and work on a project-by-project basis.
According to WorkBC, job prospects in the field are promising with growth in employment demand expected to increase every year, while the current low unemployment level of around five percent is projected to drop to just over three percent by 2022.
The provincial average salary for this job ranges from $44,000 to $53,000 per year. Recent graduates, or those new to the industry, usually start out in an administrative or coordinator role moving up to senior event management roles with on-the-job experience. Many experienced event planners also opt for self-employment and start up event consulting businesses.
Education and Professional Development
According to Service Canada, over 80 per cent of event planners have a post-secondary education and therefore to be competitive in the job market, a college diploma, certificate or degree is highly recommended.
There are many excellent education options for event planning in BC. If you are unfamiliar with BC’s post-education system in general, this useful article provides links and tips to get you started. Beyond that, it’s about finding the best fit for you. Do your research, attend school information sessions, and ask someone working in the industry for advice before making a choice.
An exciting new program being offered by British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) is the Sustainable Event Management program, a one year accelerated certificate. Program head David Tikkanem explains that it was developed in partnership with Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and 14 other universities around the world. “We are very proud that the content students will learn has been jointly developed and endorsed by the largest meeting and events association in the world, “ says Tikkanem. “We also consulted extensively with the Vancouver special events industry to ensure that graduates would be job ready to meet the needs of the growing event industry in British Columbia.”
For ongoing professional development, there are a number of associations that offer ongoing training and development, networking and professional designations. Two of the larger associations are Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and International Special Events Society (ISES); both have BC chapters. MPI is the largest association in the field and offers a CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) designation that is widely recognized in the industry. The International Special Events Society (ISES) is also a large association that offers a CSEP (Certified Special Event Professional) designation. For more industry associations and resources, see below.
Professional certification is also offered by Tourism HR Canada. The emerit certification for Event Manager is geared towards those who are already working in the field.
Next Steps: Learn and Build Experience
Professionals in the field suggest that volunteering at events is a great first step to build experience and connections. You can also learn more about event planning careers by checking out go2HR’s career profile of an event planner, and the WorkBC website also features a career profile of an event planner here.
- Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) – A useful resource for those involved in event planning for charities and non-profit organizations.
- Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada – Comprised of organizations dedicated to the betterment and promotion of the meetings and events industry.
- Canadian Association of Exposition Management – Canada’s national association of professional individuals involved in managing, planning and producing trade, consumer and professional expositions.
- Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners – An association of independent event planner entrepreneurs.
- International Special Events Society – The Mission of ISES is to educate, advance and promote the special events industry and its network of professionals along with related industries.
- Meeting Professionals International – A leading global community committed to shaping and defining the future of the meeting and event industry.
- Professional Convention Management Association – Delivering innovative education and promoting the value of professional convention management.
- Society of Incentive and Travel Executives – Providing educational seminars and information services to those who design, develop, promote, sell, administer, and operate motivational programs as an incentive to increase productivity in business.