Becoming a Party Planner: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a party planner career? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming a party planner is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Party Planner

Party planners (also known as event planners) coordinate gatherings of all types and sizes. Party planners handle every detail of these gatherings ranging from the venue to party theme. A few pros and cons to consider when thinking about a career in party planning are:

Pros of Being a Party Planner
Chance to be creative and innovative in party designs*
Faster-than-average job outlook (33% growth rate between 2012 and 2022)*
Well-paying career ($50,190 mean annual salary as of May 2013)*
Freedom to work independently and set own hours*

Cons of Being a Party Planner
Need to pay attention to every detail*
Long hours and irregular schedules are common*
Pressure to work under deadlines to organize parties*
Challenge to meet the demand of clients and vendors*

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Info

Job Description

Party planners are hired by businesses and entertainment companies to organize formal gatherings from start to finish for clients. You'll need to work independently or with a staff to coordinate all the details of an event including venues, meals, security, invitations, decorations and guest lists. The job requires you to pay close attention to the needs of your customers, which means you'll need to regularly meet with them to understand the type of event they want to throw, when and where the event should be and the budget for the event. A large portion of the job requires you to handle event finances, work with vendors and make sure businesses are paid for their services. You may also have to help coordinate transportation or valet services for the party.

Career Growth and Salary Stats

The job outlook for meeting, convention and event planners looks positive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the employment rate should grow by 33% (much faster than average) between 2012 and 2022. The increase is largely due to a growing need from businesses to organize large-scale events to bring members together. Despite increases in digital communication, companies will still need face-to-face interaction to promote business and services.

Party and event planners are able to earn a decent living. The BLS found that meeting, convention and event planners made a median annual salary of $50,190 as of May 2014, which calculates to a mean hourly wage of about $24.13.

Education Requirements

The majority of party and event planners earn a bachelor's degree in a major like marketing, hospitality, business, communications or event management. There are also degree programs that allow you to earn a bachelor's degree in hospitality, tourism and event management. This type of study will give you the opportunity to work with the hotel, restaurant or tourism industry managing events and special programs. Many of the colleges and universities allow you to take part in field work as a way to gain on-the-job training and real-world skills, which is often the key to landing party planner jobs after graduation.

Party planners need great organizational and communications skills since they'll be working on deadline and with others. In working with vendors, having good negotiation skills can prove to be very useful when trying to stay on budget. They should also have excellent computer and social media knowledge. Also, since emergencies are likely to arise, party planners must be excellent problem solvers and be professional.

Job Postings From Real Employers

Companies across the country are hiring event planners and coordinators who can run professional parties and events. Employers are generally looking for candidates with a bachelor's degree as well as experience organizing events. Check out these real job openings from May 2012:

  • A restaurant and bar in Texas is looking for an event planner/coordinator who can handle multiple types of events ranging from birthday parties to political fundraisers. The job requires at least five years of experience and an understanding of budget and staff management.
  • A public relations firm in New Jersey is hiring for a marketing event coordinator who can organize major conferences, trade shows and events. You'll need a bachelor's degree and at least three years of experience in event planning to be considered for the position.
  • A Connecticut promotional marketing company is looking for an entry-level event coordinator with a high school diploma. The candidate would organize local marketing events and develop business contacts. This company asked for a self-starter with a vehicle who could work within a team as well as independently.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

There are a number of ways to get ahead in your career as a party or event planner. You can join organizations like the Event Planners Association (EPA) as a way to learn about the latest trends and styles in event planning. The organization also plans conferences and workshops that allow you to network with fellow event planners and understand new job openings and career plans. The EPA also allows members to access resources like an in-house law firm or in-house insurance agency when planning major events for companies.

At the same time, you can earn a certificate in meeting and event planning or event management as a way to show future employers that you have formal training. You'll learn how to plan special events, handling everything from finding a venue to understanding insurance and malpractice policies. In addition, these certificate programs teach you how to negotiate with vendors and handle the logistics of organizing parties and events of all sizes.

Alternative Career Paths

Public Relations Manager or Specialist

If you aren't ready to handle party planning, then consider a career as a public relations manager or specialist. You'll be able to promote the mission and goals of a company by creating a publicity plan. Like party planners, you'll be connecting with potential customers and likely work long hours. The job requires a bachelor's degree, as well as on-the-job training. The job outlook is healthy with the BLS projecting a 21% rise in employment between 2010 and 2020, which is considered a faster than average rate of growth. The BLS reported that this field made an average salary of $106,000 as of 2011.

Lodging Manager

Another option is to become a lodging manager where you'll work at a hotel and make sure that guests receive a positive experience while staying at your establishment. Depending on the size of the hotel, some level of postsecondary training is typically necessary to become a manager whether it's a certificate, an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree. The BLS anticipated an eight percent growth in employment between 2010 and 2020, which is slower than the average rate. However, the average 2011 salary was $55,000, which is slightly more than party planners.

Food Service Manager

If you'd rather focus on food and meal preparation, then you can become a food services manager. You won't need as much schooling as party planners, because many food service managers hold a high school diploma. You'll work within a restaurant or eating establishment to make sure customers are satisfied as manage food staff. While this option was expected to have a negative three percent decline in employment between 2010 and 2020, food services managers made an average salary of $53,000 as of 2011.

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