How to Become an Event Planner: a Step by Step Guide

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An article by contributor Alicia Hill.

Are you thinking about starting a career as an event manager or event planner? Making a living planning events sounds to many like a dream job -– choosing décor and food, travelling, spending your work days at interesting venues rather than behind a desk, and getting to work with many different people. However, a lot more than a love of parties is needed to embark on a successful career in this field. It takes a keen eye, tons of soft skills and the ability to handle pressure and deadlines.

If you think you have what it takes to succeed in this rewarding but challenging field, read the following guide to get off on the right foot and begin making your dream a reality.

Event Planner Job Description

Event planners make a career out of organizing events such as pop-ups, roadshows, festivals, conferences, customer-facing events, exhibitions and more. Event planners often plan several events a year, either for the same client or numerous ones.

Event Planner Education Requirements

Earning a bachelor’s degree is strongly preferred but not required here. As will be shown below, it is possible to successfully begin breaking into this field without experience. If you’re currently planning out your educational attainments, some of the relevant degree options here include Hospitality Management, Public Relations, Marketing, Business, Tourism Management and Communications. Highly relevant related coursework includes accounting, meeting management, business-related computer skills, event design and event promotion.

Event Planner Required Skills

Some of these skills aren’t easily learned and some are, but all of them are very important to succeed in an event planner career. The skills most often listed in job descriptions for this career are:

  • having good composure, maintaining one’s calm under pressure and being able to meet deadlines in a fast-paced field;
  • able to troubleshoot and develop creative solutions to problems, sometimes on the fly;
  • possessing a strong work ethic, be detail-oriented and able to multi-task;
  • having excellent communication skills, both verbal and written, for things like negotiating and securing quality products and services and maintaining positive relationships;
  • strong computer literacy, especially for spreadsheet, database and project management software.

How to Become an Event Planner with No Experience

Many event companies aren’t necessarily looking for qualifications or certifications but certain skill such as mentioned above. Even if you’ve never engaged in event planning before and perhaps work in an entirely different field, there are ways to break into the industry. Read the following on how to become an event planner step by step:

Step 1: Build experience any way you can

Volunteer at your current organization to help plan or coordinate for events such as outings, holiday gatherings or parties.

Volunteering to aid in planning events at non-profits, charities and other organizations that commonly fund raise or host gatherings is another very effective way for an aspiring event planner to build experience and a portfolio. Volunteering is also great because it allows one to get a real feel for what event planning from start to finish is like. Professional event planners often speak of the wonderful feeling that arises from seeing guests enjoy themselves at a successful event.

Step 2: Learn proactively and engage in relevant entry-level work

Reading this guide is, of course, a good first step, and don’t hesitate to scour the internet and read books that can offer a great deal of relevant and meaningful information on the ins and outs of event planning. Other steps to becoming an event planner include interning, shadowing professionals, and working in entry-level positions. Consider gaining experience in hospitality at a hotel or convention center or taking on administrative or other entry-level work at an events planning company.

Step 3: Networking

Networking and meeting people is very important in the events industry. Building positive and mutually beneficial relationships with clients, vendors, organizations, event venues and influential people will help fuel your career prospects. Leverage social media sites as well to develop connections and build your brand. You never know which contact might end up being that vital bridge to an amazing opportunity.

How to Become an Event Manager

Event managers are less involved in planning the finer details surrounding events and more so involved in the bigger picture aspects of an event. Event managers often handle logistics such as finding out which venues to use  that offer ample parking, Wi-Fi and easy accessibility. They’re also responsible for following health and safety rules, designing contingency plans, resolving any problems during an event and much more.

Working as an event manager means taking on many roles such as project manager and project director. They must communicate well with everyone from board members to the clients to the delivery man. Good event managers think like an attendee and learn from each event.

Alicia Hill  is a content writer with backgrounds in business management, class consulting and marketing communication. She writes for several businesses from around the world.

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