Behind the scenes at successful conventions, conferences, meetings and events of all sizes, there is usually a skilled convention and event management planner. These professionals take care of every detail, from selecting the date and venue, to hiring the caterers and cleanup crew.
Becoming a convention and event management planner takes creativity, energy and strong organizational skills. If you possess these attributes, this career could be a good fit for you. Employers will typically seek candidates with a solid set of management skills as well, which can be obtained through a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Business Administration Management program and related work experience.
Convention and event management planners are responsible for making sure meetings and events run smoothly. Whether it’s a medical convention, tech conference, annual stockholder’s meeting or fundraising auction, their skills are essential to a successful event.
Convention and event management planners coordinate the many details that begin long before the day of the event, including the theme, location, number of attendees and slate of speakers. They also run the actual event, which may involve solving problems, arranging for necessary technical equipment, supervising staff and coordinating with venue personnel.
Professional convention and event management planners are also responsible for negotiating contracts with vendors and speakers, arranging entertainment and providing for attendees’ needs. They may work for an association, corporation, government organization or convention center. Many event planners are self-employed.
Specific job duties for convention and event management planners will vary according to the employer, industry and even specific events. In general, you can expect to have the following responsibilities in this position:
Convention and event management planners must stay one step ahead of whatever is happening around them. Events and conventions can be hectic, with many overlapping activities, so capable event planners are highly valued by their employers.
As businesses become more global, conventions and conferences are becoming more crucial, leading to an increase in demand for event planners. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs for meeting, convention and event planners are projected to grow 44% from 2010 through 2020, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Increasing employment opportunities are expected to arise as global organizations recognize the importance of face-to-face communication, as well as the need for trained professionals to plan the best events and conventions at the best price. Prospective students are encouraged to conduct their own research, as job availability will vary according to geographical region, education, experience and other factors.
According to a nationwide survey conducted by the BLS in 2012, the median annual salary for meeting, convention and event planners was $45,810. The top 10% in this field earned around $79,270, while the lowest 10% brought home around $26,560 annually. Prospective students are encouraged to conduct their own research, as potential salaries will vary according to the employer, geographical region, education, experience and other factors.
Conventions, meetings and events are becoming more complex, requiring a higher level of management planning expertise. Therefore, most employers will require a bachelor’s degree at minimum. Convention and event management planners come from a variety of academic backgrounds, including marketing, business administration, hospitality management and communications.
Employers may prefer candidates with related work experience, often gained through internships or entry-level event coordinator positions. Entry-level coordinators typically assist with smaller events, learning skills under the supervision of senior convention and event management planners.
Industry certifications, such as the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) administered by the Convention Industry Council, are sometimes required or preferred by employers.
In addition, employers will seek candidates who possess the following skills:
Organizing and directing successful events can be highly rewarding. If this information has piqued your interest in a career as a convention and event management planner, then why not start planning for your education and training? With the right skills, you’ll have a better opportunity to land an entry-level job and get yourself on a path toward a successful career.