What Does an Event Planner Do?
Updated July 21, 2023
A woman holding a cell phone stands next to a list with the title "What Does an Event Planner Do?" and these job duties:
• Coordinate and organize various aspects of events, including logistics, vendors and schedules
• Develop and manage budgets
• Collaborate with clients to understand their event objectives and preferences
• Source and negotiate with vendors (caterers, decorators, and entertainment)
• Execute event plans, overseeing setup, implementation, and troubleshooting
If you enjoy planning parties or special events for your family and friends, you may be interested in learning how to make this your career. Event planners assist people and companies in coordinating a variety of events, such as weddings, conferences, meetings and parties. Learning about this career and the qualifications to pursue it may help you determine if it's a good job for you.
In this article, we answer "What does an event planner do?", discuss the requirements for this career and answer frequently asked questions about event planning.
What does an event planner do?
An event planner, also known as an event coordinator or event specialist, is an individual responsible for organizing and coordinating meetings and special events, such as ceremonies, parties, weddings, corporate gatherings and fundraisers. They manage budgets, select dates, find locations and arrange accommodations and transportation for event guests. An event planner's specific tasks vary depending on several factors, such as the size and type of event and the planner's education and experience.
Other duties that an event planner performs include:
Meeting with clients to understand the purpose of the event
Planning the scope of the event, including cost, time, location and program
Inspecting places to make sure they meet the client's requirements
Conferring with on-site staff to coordinate details
Monitoring event activities to make sure the client and event guests are satisfied
Reviewing event bills and approving payment
Read more: What Is an Event Planner?
What are the requirements to be an event planner?
The career path for event planners involves a combination of the following:
Most event planning jobs require at least a bachelor's degree. Individuals without a degree may qualify for an entry-level position if they have one or two years of relevant experience. Most employers look for bachelor's degrees in fields like:
Many companies prefer candidates who have completed formal training, but event planners often receive training on the job in a previous related position. Training can include shadowing a senior event planner and performing their duties under supervision until they feel comfortable doing tasks on their own.
Many colleges and universities also offer training programs in event planning. These training programs can take anywhere from two to four years of study and usually involve both lectures and practical event-planning work.
Many event planners specialize in a particular type of event, such as conventions, weddings or parties. Whatever their specialization, event planners can distinguish by earning a professional certification. Here are some of the most common certifications for this profession:
Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP): Offered by the International Live Events Association (ILEA), the CSEP designation recognizes event planners who have successfully demonstrated the ability, knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill all elements of a special event. Earning this certification requires at least three years of experience in event planning and passing the CSEP exam.
Certified Meeting Professional (CMP): Offered by the Events Industry Council (EIC), this designation is given to event planners who specialize in the organization of meetings and conventions. Candidates for the CMP pass a written examination covering meeting management to earn this certification.
Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE): Organized by National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), the CPCE certification is a nationally recognized program designed to provide event planners with the opportunity to establish themselves as experts in the hospitality, catering and events industries. To become CPCE certified, candidates complete a training program and pass an exam.
Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP): Available from the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP), the CGMP certification is intended for suppliers and planners whose work is regulated by the federal government. It's considered the highest designation available for individuals organizing government meetings, and it requires an SGMP membership and one year of hospitality experience.
Here are some beneficial skills an event planner will need to succeed in their career:
Attention to detail: Event planners identify and correct minute details. This could include the proper spelling of names and a guest's dietary preferences.
Organizational skills: It's essential for event planners to be highly organized. This enables them to be able to keep track of numerous tasks, vendors and to-do lists while keeping their clients happy.
Networking: The events industry is heavily people-driven and relationship-based, and it's crucial for event planners to have a network of different people within the industry to be able to work with to create successful, memorable events. This includes photographers, caterers, bands, conference center workers, reception hall workers, audio/visual workers and internet hotspot providers.
Communication skills: Event planners use communication skills be able to understand what their clients are asking and share their own ideas and recommendations. Communicating effectively helps prevent issues to ensure a successful event.
Creativity: Creativity is essential when planning an event since the job includes duties such as designing a theme for all types of events and creating an affordable decorating solution that meets a small budget. These skills may help event planners develop unique experiences for their clients, potentially differentiating them from other planners.
Interpersonal skills: Event planners rely on interpersonal skills to help them build and maintain relationships with vendors, clients and other people in the industry. This helps them better understand who they're working with and avoid potential issues during the day of the event.
Problem-solving skills: Events often run on a strict schedule, yet unexpected situations are unavoidable. It's crucial that event planners are resourceful and flexible so they can make quick decisions and provide reasonable solutions.
Computer skills: Planning events may require using instant messaging platforms, event management software or other processing programs to organize all information. It's also useful for event planners to understand how to use social media to promote their events and network with others.
Negotiation: Event planners are typically responsible for securing contracts for their clients with different vendors. Excellent negotiation skills help them reach agreements for fair prices for the requested services.
How to become an event planner
Here are the most common steps to follow in becoming a successful event planner:
1. Earn a bachelor's degree
While not always required, a bachelor's degree can help an aspiring event manager obtain a more advanced position and negotiate for a higher salary. Relevant majors include those in marketing, business, hospitality management and related fields.
2. Gain work experience
Prospective event planners may enter the events industry by starting out in an entry-level position in a related field. They may also seek job shadowing opportunities with a professional event planner to know what it's like to work behind the scenes at events.
3. Choose a specialization
Event planners may specialize in a certain type of event, especially if they want to start their own business. You can choose a specialty, such as birthdays, weddings, conferences, business meetings, mall events, fundraisers and corporate retreats.
Read more: 51 Job Titles for Event Planners
4. Obtain a certification
Event planning certifications may help event planners impress potential employers. The content in certification examinations can vary depending on the event planning area. Each certification holds different requirements, but most will require event planners to have completed a training program, obtained a certain number of years of experience and passed certification exams.
5. Join a professional organization
Joining a professional organization helps new event planners form important connections and increase their job opportunities. It may also lead to other useful resources, including continuing education options. Some organizations to consider joining include:
6. Seek career advancement
As event planners gain job experience, they can advance in their careers to become meeting managers, program coordinators or directors of meetings. They may also decide to move from a smaller organization to a larger company with other career opportunities, or they may even start their own event planning business.
What is an event planner's work environment?
To perform administrative duties such as booking hotels, reserving event venues and scheduling client meetings, event planners may work in an office or from home. For example, event planners who work at big hotels or convention centers might work with several other event planners in a large workspace, registering event guests and answering phones. As the date for an event gets closer, event planners might work long hours, including evenings and weekends. Depending on the number of events that their employer is responsible for, event planners may sometimes need to work at a fast pace.
Event planners who organize large events such as film screenings, annual conferences, national conventions or regional job fairs may travel to a client's work location to discuss requirements. For instance, event planners might visit a client at the client's headquarter to obtain the guest list, dates and hours for the event and names and contact information for keynote speakers.
Frequently asked questions
What is the average salary for an event planner?
The national average salary for an event planner is $50,283 per year. Salaries may vary based on a variety of factors, such as the event planner's experience, employer and geographic location.
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.
What is the career outlook for event planners?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of meeting, convention and event planners may grow 18% from 2021 to 2031. This is much faster than the average for all occupations, and it includes an average of 16,600 job openings each year. The BLS credits this growth to a growing demand from people wanting expert assistance in planning important personal and professional events.
Who oversees event planners?
An event planner's boss depends on who they work for and the structure of the company. For example, those working at a hotel may report to a director of events, while others working for event planning companies may have the business owner as their manager. It's also possible for event planners to be their own bosses and work as a freelancer or sole proprietors.
Related: 25 Types of Jobs in Events
What are some similar careers to event planning?
Here's a list of careers that involve many similar responsibilities and skills as an event planner.
Explore more articles
- What Does an Athletic Trainer Do? Duties and Requirements
- What Does an Oncologist Do? (Plus Salary)
- What Does a Chemical Engineer Do? (With Average Salary)
- Learn About Being a Hotel Front Desk Clerk
- Learn About Being a Painter
- Learn About Being an Account Clerk
- Learn About Being a Sales Engineer
- Learn About Being a Benefits Coordinator (Duties and Salary)
- What Does a Compliance Manager Do? (With Job Description)
- Learn About Being a Billing Clerk
- Learn About Being a Sales Manager
- What Does a Petroleum Engineer Do? (And How To Become One)