There are many reasons why you may be drawn to the field of event planning. For example, you’re a people person, you like details, you have good taste, and you like getting things done. These are all skills you can use to build a career in event planning, through practice alone. If, however, you want a more formal event planner education, you may consider event planning certification.
How to Choose Event Planning Courses?
There are a couple of ways you can get an education as an event planner. As with all things in life, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. You need to decide how much time you want to invest, and how much money you’re willing to spend. Then assess the studies, and your goals, and decide what event planning course is right for you.
Going the University Route
Your first option is to take university event management courses, such as the one offered by the University of Central Florida or the one from George Washington University. You may be able to take some event management courses online without formally enrolling. However, if you have the time and the resources, a bachelor’s degree (BA) in hospitality is an excellent option. You can even choose a major in event planning.
Other degrees you may want to consider include a BA in public relations, communications, marketing or business administration. Whichever you choose, make sure it includes courses on vital skills. These include special events marketing, cost control strategies, media relations, facilities operations, and even professional ethics.
Event Planning Certification and Requirements
If you already have experience, then event management certification is perfect for you. While event planning certification courses do exist, you generally won’t have to read much or invest much time here. Plus, you can get most certifications online, making them an extremely convenient option.
Keep in mind, however, event certification is a huge field. As such, you’ll need to do your research to find what’s right for you, and your event planning specialty.
A few types of event planning certification programs you might consider include:
- Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP) – CSEP is seen as an official stamp of approval by many in the events industry. As such, it can help you build your brand’s credibility. To qualify, you need to have three years of experience working as an event planner. Other than that, there are no studies involved. You simply take the online exam, in less than a day.
- Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) – This internationally recognized certification is issued by the Convention Industry Council (CIC). You should only consider pursuing it if you’re looking to be in the meetings, exhibitions or conventions business (i.e. not wedding or party planning). Like CSEP, you need three years of experience to qualify to sit for the exam.
- Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE) – This event coordinator certification is issued by the National Association for Catering and Events. Use it to help position yourself as an expert in the catering part of the events industry.
- Digital Event Strategist Certification – This is an interesting option in the digital age. Its main goal is to help you develop relevant digital skills. You can then use your certification to your advantage, distinguishing yourself as a cutting-edge professional, with an eye on the future of events planning.
Online Courses without Certification
If you just want to brush up on your skills, there are tons of courses available online. Do a Google search and you’ll find all sorts of options. Choose between courses like a one-time ‘Event Planner Toolkit’ or ‘How to Be an Event Planner’ program. These courses may not be a huge boost to your credentials, but they can certainly be useful for your general knowledge.
Where and How to Practice Event Planning While Studying
While there are plenty of professional skills you can polish through certification degrees or courses, event planning is a hands-on job. That means once you’ve decided to be an event planner, you should already start looking for a way to get working.
You can get your foot in the door by apprenticing for a popular event planner in your area. Or you can work as a volunteer at a local non-profit. You can even turn an administrative job into an event planning job, by taking on the right responsibilities. Just make sure to take out general liability insurance to cover yourself and those around you, once you get started.
Once you move into the professional realm, you’ll also need event planner insurance. In addition to protecting your business, and along with your event planning certification, it’s another stamp of credibility that will help attract customers, and distinguish you as the professional that you are.