Do you have a knack for juggling? Deadlines, budgets, and personnel, that is. Then you may want to become an event planner!
Not sure how to get started on becoming an event planner? I’ve written a basic guide to help you launch into this exciting field.
See Related: So, You Want to Know What Event Staff Is?
#1: Earn a College Degree in a Related Field
It’s true: there are not many schools that offer a bachelor’s degree in event planning.
That being said, there are other degree programs that will equip you with relevant experience. Here are a few examples:
- Hospitality Management
- A degree in hospitality management will familiarize you with the world of hotels. Many hotels have in-house event planners.
- Business Management
- Becoming an event planner often means becoming your own boss. A degree in business management will help you learn to crunch numbers and make smart business decisions.
- Public Relations
- Many professionals in the event planning industry manage public-facing events. A degree in public relations will teach you to maneuver the intricacies of working in the public eye.
Remember, event planning job opportunities do not all have the same educational requirements. If it is in the cards for you, though, a degree usually doesn’t hurt!
#2: Or, Many Event Planners Complete a Certification Program
As I mentioned, you do not necessarily need a degree to become an event planner. You can also find a professional organization that offers an event planning certification.
Certificates are great for people who:
- Know the specific part of the events industry they want to enter into;
- Prefer a more flexible style of education than the classic four-year degree;
- Seek a cost-effective way to become a certified event planner.
A variety of certificate programs exist. For example, you can become a certified government meeting professional.
This means you are certified to plan events under government contracts. These days, many hotels and venues are required to have this certification.
Or, you can participate in the Certified Meeting Professional program of the Events Industry Council.
This certification not only introduces you to a community of event planners. It also serves as a symbol of excellence within the field. Some clients specifically look for event planners with credentials like this.
Alternatively, you may explore becoming a Certified Special Events Professional. This is offered through the International Live Events Association.
#3: Learn Event Planning Through Online Courses
Yet another alternative to a bachelor’s degree is online education. This type of formal training is an excellent option for those embarking on this career path.
As long as the course is from an accredited institution or organization, potential employers should honor it. You’ll start to plan parties, conferences, and more in no time! (Plus, you’ll get to work with some dazzling emcees too which doesn’t hurt.)
#4: Get Comfortable with Numbers
I know “numbers” sound scary to some people. But don’t worry – you don’t need to be a math whiz to understand an event budget.
A huge part of planning events is sticking to the budget.
This means only spending the amount of money allocated to you. Event planners who go over budget are not likely to be hired again.
Think about this in a very practical way.
In your own life, you know not to spend more money than you have. It’s the same way in the events industry. Sure, it takes planning and compromise. But you can still put together a fabulous get-together on a budget.
#5: Embrace Technology
The events industry is so exciting because it is always evolving.
For example, think about how events transformed during the pandemic. What were once in-person galas became virtual fundraisers. Coffee shop open mics became weekly Zoom calls. You get the idea!
A successful event planner is not scared of technology. In fact, they embrace it!
New technologies give event planners capabilities they’ve never had before.
- Want to bring in a keynote speaker who lives halfway across the world? It’s possible!
- Want to invite guests to text donations during the event? Easy!
- Want to distribute a QR code that takes folks directly to the online auction? No problem!
Potential clients want to see an event planner be creative and solution-oriented. Familiarity with technology helps you be both of these things.
#6: Sharpen Your Logistical Skills
Great event planners are logistical pros. Logistics are all practical details that must be attended to. Dates, times, addresses, that sort of thing.
To become an event planner, you must not only solidify those logistics. You must communicate them to everyone who needs to know!
This is where juggling starts to come into play.
Not only do guests need to know – in advance – where the event will take place. So does the staff!
- What time should staff arrive, assuming they should be there early?
- Will transportation be provided?
- Will the staff eat dinner on-site? If so, at what time?
You get the idea.
Think about the ways you manage logistics in your everyday life.
- Do you work a full-time job and also bring your child to their doctor appointments?
- Do you cook for your family every night and also make sure your garden is thriving?
- Are you the friend who gets the girls’ trip out of the group chat and into reality?
I’ll bet you manage more logistics every day than you realize!
#7: Find Marketing Inspiration for Your Own Event Planning Business
You may start by working for a large company, or assisting another planner. But lots of event planners aspire to go out on their own.
Even while you work for someone else, watch for great ideas in marketing.
- What do you admire about other planners’ branding?
- Do you like the tagline for their business?
- Is it clear which niche they specialize in?
Make the most of your early career by figuring out what you do and don’t like.
#8: Practice Communicating
To become an event planner, you must have excellent communication skills.
There are so many groups of people you’ll be talking to!
- Your clients;
- Venue representatives;
- Lighting and sound teams;
- And more!
With each group, you will need to learn how best to communicate.
- Some may communicate best via casual texting.
- Others require emails so there is a formal paper trail.
- Others will be most productive with a 10-minute phone call.
Be patient and take time to figure out how to get what you need from everyone.
#9: Strengthen Relationships Through Networking
As you go through your education, apprenticeships, assisting, and more, keep those business cards. You never know when someone you met in passing will hold the key to your next job!
Treat site visits, classes, and shows like networking events.
You may still be learning the ropes, but it’s never a bad time to cultivate a relationship.
- In school? Ask your professors to set you up for informational interviews with industry professionals.
- Apprenticing at an event planning company? Tag along to planned events whenever possible. You will meet DJs, caterers, and more event professionals with whom you may work later.
#10: Assist a Professional Event Planner
Want to start your own event planning business? Gain experience by becoming an assistant or event coordinator for a bona fide event planner.
Hands-on learning is extremely effective. You will see the ins and outs of event management from behind the scenes.
Be sure to ask questions in addition to observing!
- Why did they choose to go with one venue over another?
- Which past clients presented the biggest challenges and how were they resolved?
- Are there any circumstances in which it’s okay to go over budget?
#11: Visit Trade Shows
These are a very exciting part of event planning! These are events where all sorts of event professionals can mingle, make connections, and advertise their services.
As you embark on your event planning career, it would behoove you to learn about local businesses.
Maybe there are local event venues you never knew about. Or you stumble across a lighting designer who can create the perfect event design for your client.
Even a highly experienced event planner will attend trade shows. They are great places to identify new talent. Plus, you’ll learn about up-and-coming trends you can use in your own business.
#12: Find Your Niche
The event planning business is absolutely sprawling. Why? Because there is no limit to the types of events to plan!
For example, corporate planners might manage office holiday parties. An event planner in the hospitality industry might plan overnight conferences. Still, others might plan huge parties after major sporting events.
Want to know the best part? You can personalize your event planning career based on your interests.
Now You Know How to Become an Event Planner!
After reading this, I hope you have an idea of how to become an event planner. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to approach this.
My goal is to give you tools and ideas to inspire your personal journey.
There are many approaches you can take, but here are my top ideas:
#1: Earn a college degree in a related field.
#2: Or, many event planners complete a certification program.
#3: Learn event planning through online courses.
#4: Get comfortable with numbers.
#5: Embrace technology.
#6: Sharpen your logistical skills.
#7: Find marketing inspiration.
#8: Practice communicating.
#9: Strengthen relationships through networking.
#10: Assist a professional event planner.
#11: Visit trade shows.
#12: Find your niche.
I can’t wait to see what you accomplish! I know that you will bring your own unique personality and skills to this exciting career.
Keep Reading: 11 People Skills That Will Set You Apart from the Crowd
Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.