Becoming an Event Manager: Job Description & Salary Information

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Learn about an event manager's job description, salary and education requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of an event manager career.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as an Event Manager

An event manager, also called an event or meeting planner, organizes conventions, exhibitions, corporate meetings, weddings or sports activities. Continue reading for the pros and cons of this career.

Pros of a Career as an Event Manager
Feasible for individuals with a variety of degrees and experience (bachelor's preferred, but not mandatory)*
Faster than average job growth (33% growth predicted from 2012-2022)*
Travel opportunities (attend events and assess potential meeting sites)*
Work within a fast-paced industry*

Cons of a Career as an Event Manager
Layoffs are common when economy is down*
Long hours during events *
Physically demanding (some lifting and much walking required)*
Work may be stressful*

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description, Salary and Job Prospects

Event managers use their organizational, sales and communication skills to ensure that a particular gathering - whether an industry convention, trade show or wedding reception - is a success. They often organize all aspects of the event, from choosing a venue to selecting speakers and arranging banquets. Event managers may work with sponsors or hosts to discuss the goals and plans for the event. As an event manager, you may be employed by corporations or professional associations. Hotels, convention centers or events facilities also employ event managers to work with clients in planning events.

If you're considering this career, get ready for some long hours. The job can be physically taxing, with a lot of walking and occasionally some lifting of boxes and equipment. On the other hand, there's seldom a dull moment, and you may have to travel to possible meeting venues.

Salary and Career Forecast

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual salary for meeting, convention and event planners was about $46,000 in May 2014. Employment in this field is expected to grow by 33% from 2012-2022, the BLS reported, in part because businesses with outlets around the world depend on periodic conventions and meetings as a way of maintaining personal contact. However, the BLS warned, in times of economic hardship, event planners may be among the first employees to be dismissed. Hotels and convention centers may also cut staff in downturns since fewer organizations have the money for meetings.

Career Skills and Requirements

While no specific degree may be required, according to the BLS, many employers prefer to hire those who have at least a bachelor's degree and experience in a related field. Degree programs in hospitality, public relations, marketing and communications include coursework relevant to this field. Some schools offer associate's degrees in event planning, while others offer professional certificate programs to people who hold degrees in other fields.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Event managers need to have a strong combination of business and people skills. When choosing a major, you may want to consider one that emphasizes communications skills, as well as provides some business training. Volunteer work may give you some event planning experience. Job postings from February 2012 show some of the desired qualities for event planners include innovative thinking skills, knowledge of industry trends, emphasis on teamwork and good communications skills. Read the below excerpts from real job postings (found online in Spring 2012) for more information on what employers look for:

  • A non-profit group in Brooklyn was looking for a special events assistant to organize an arts auction. The ideal candidate would be proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel and have excellent writing ability.
  • An event planning company in Atlanta was seeking an entry-level event planner with two years of experience. Duties include managing, attending and publicizing field marketing events.
  • A hotel in Atlantic City sought an event planning director to run its event planning department. The job duties included hiring staff, supervising operations and meeting with clients. A 2-year degree was required, along with at least seven years of industry experience.
  • In California, a healthcare organization is seeking an experienced events manager to plan conferences, speaking engagements and other events. Qualifications include project management skills and 3-5 years of experience in an event manager role. Some travel is required.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Event managers can keep up with trends and make valuable contacts by joining professional associations such as the Convention Industry Council (CIC) or the Event Planners Association. Earning certifications can also demonstrate your abilities to employers. The CIC offers the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation to event managers who meet experience and continuing education requirements and pass the CMP examination. The Society of Government Meetings Professionals offers the Certified Government Meeting Professional designation to qualified meeting planners.

Other Careers to Consider

Public Relations Specialist

If you're think a career as a meeting planning sounds like fun, but would like to do more than just organize events, you may want to consider a career as a public relations specialist. Predicted by the BLS to be a high-growth field over the next few years, public relations positions allows you to use your communications skills to help your employer or client maintain a positive public image. You may organize press conferences or prepare audio-visual presentations. A bachelor's degree in journalism, public relations or marketing is required. The BLS reported the median salary was about $53,000 in May 2011.

Lodging Manager

If you like the thought of working in a hotel, another option to think about is that of a lodging manager. In this role you would ensure the comfort of hotel guests and oversee the operation of a hotel, managing employees and keeping an eye on the bottom line. The BLS predicted that job growth for lodging managers would be slower than average from 2010-2020 industry-wide; however, employment was expected to remain stable at large hotels, including casinos and resorts. The median salary for a lodging manager was about $47,000 in May 2011, the BLS reported.

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Ashford University

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  • MBA - Media Management
  • B.A. - Business Admin
  • BA/Service Management - Hospitality Enterprise

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Grand Canyon University

  • DBA - Management
  • MBA
  • Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management

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American InterContinental University

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  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
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Northcentral University

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Full Sail University

  • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • B.S. - Music Business

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Herzing University

  • MBA
  • B.S. - Business Management: Business Admin Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Business Management

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Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Management
  • MS - Organizational Leadership
  • BS - Business Management
  • BS - Organizational Leadership

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