April 23, 2024
By John Hunter

There are over 40,150 event planners employed in the US. If you want to be one of them, you’ve come to the right place. 

In this post, we'll provide a detailed, in-depth strategy for becoming a meeting and event planner. 

We'll cover basic event planner requirements, some frequently asked questions, event planning education and certifications, and more.

Event Organizer

What Does an Event Organizer Do?

As the name suggests, event planners plan events. They oversee every detail of an event to ensure it runs smoothly, from ideation to the final curtain call. 

Event planners often report to a director of events or the CEO of a company, and their responsibilities include:

  • Understand exactly what the client wants and stay updated with event trends.
  • Setting a budget and finding the perfect venue, with or without using event management software
  • Handling the nitty-gritty, like equipment rentals, securing event technology, arranging for transportation, food and beverage, and everything in between.
  • Monitoring the event and solving problems on the go. 
Event Organizer Kayla

What Skills Do You Need to Be an Event Organizer?

Planning a memorable event means juggling multiple things. From negotiating the best deals and handling logistics to keeping attendees engaged, there's a lot at stake. All this requires some event planning skills, including: 

  • Attention to detail: The devil lies in the details, and paying close attention to each aspect of your event can make the difference between a great and an excellent event. Attention to detail lets you identify potential issues, refine your work, and deliver memorable events. 
  • Communication: As an event organizer, you are expected to navigate expectations, troubleshoot issues, and ultimately guarantee a smooth-running event. To do all this, there is no room for miscommunication. Clear directions and actively listening to clients, vendors, and guests ensure everyone knows their role.  
  • Creativity: Events shouldn't be cookie-cutter. Brainstorming outside-the-box themes, décor, and activities can turn a gathering into an unforgettable experience that sets your work apart. 
  • Problem-solver: The unexpected always happens in event planning: a surprise downpour, a vendor or speaker no-show, or A/V glitches. Therefore, you must be able to think quickly, pivot with grace, and come up with solutions on the fly to keep the event on track. 
  • Budgeting: Event organizers are great at budgeting, which means squeezing the most impact out of your resources. You'll have to find ways to deliver an amazing event, even when the purse strings are tight. 
  • Negotiation: Haggling for the best deals is part of the event planning game. You must have some negotiation skills to secure top-notch vendors, venues, and supplies at prices that keep your clients satisfied. 
Become an event organizer

Steps for Becoming an Events Professional

There are a few paths to becoming an event planner. Some dive into hands-on experience, while others prefer a more structured approach with a degree or certification. Here's a breakdown of the steps to get you started: 

Consider Earning a Degree

A bachelor's degree in event management, hospitality, or a related field like public relations or marketing is a great start in the event planning industry. While not always required, a degree can open more doors and prepare you for a successful career. We'll discuss some of the event planning certifications later in this blog post. 

Get Hands-On Experience

Here are some ways to gain valuable hands-on experience: 

  • Volunteer: Non-profit organizations, charities, and festival organizers often need help with event planning and execution. Volunteering your time is a fantastic way to learn the ropes, build your network, and gain experience working on different events. 
  • Intern: Internships provide a structured learning experience within an event planning company or department. Look for internship programs offered through your school or research event planning companies in your area and inquire about internship possibilities. 

Build a Portfolio

Build a portfolio once you've gained some hands-on experience. Here's what to include in your portfolio: 

  • High-resolution Photos: Include high-quality pictures that showcase the events you've worked on. Before, during, and after shots of the event can give hiring managers a well-rounded idea of your skills and the impact you can make. 
  • Testimonials: Testimonials from satisfied clients are gold. Ask past clients for feedback and, with their permission, include it in your portfolio. 
  • Marketing Materials: Did you design event flyers, social media posts, or other marketing materials? Add them to your portfolio to prove your creativity and ability to promote an event effectively
  • Media Coverage: If applicable, include any media coverage you received, like articles or mentions on news websites, to demonstrate your ability to generate buzz and create a successful event. 

Craft Your Resume

Having a great portfolio is important, but so is having a compelling resume highlighting your qualifications for event planning roles. Here are some key areas to focus on: 

  • Education: List your degree(s) and any relevant coursework. Did you win any awards or recognitions during your studies? Mention those, too! 
  • Event Experience: Outline your event planning experience chronologically, starting with your most recent position. For each role, include the company name, location, your job title, and the dates of your employment. Use strong action verbs to describe your achievements and responsibilities.   
  • Quantify your results whenever possible. For example, "Increased event attendance by 20% through strategic marketing campaigns" is much more impactful than simply stating that you were responsible for "event marketing." 
  • Relevant Skills: Carefully review job postings for event planner positions and identify the skills employers seek most often. Incorporate these keywords throughout your resume to tailor it to each specific job.  
  • Additional Sections: If your volunteer work, professional affiliations, or foreign language skills enhance your candidacy, consider including sections for them.

Start Applying

With your resume and portfolio done, it's time to start applying. Take the time to customize your cover letter and resume for different positions, and avoid submitting generic applications. Read about the company and the types of events they do, and showcase your enthusiasm for their work. If possible, highlight skills and experiences from your resume that most closely align with the job description.  

Steps to becoming an event organizer

Top 5 Event Planning Certifications You Can Consider 

  1. CMP: Certified Meetings Professional 
    What is it? Think of CMP as the gold standard in the event planning world. Backed by the CIC (Convention Industry Council), it sets a high bar for knowledge and skill. CMPs are found in over 55 countries—it's the real deal. 
    How do I get it?  No cakewalk here. The CMP exam tests everything from planning strategy to event marketing. They recommend brushing up on the CMP International Standards and then diving deep into areas you might not know as well. Bonus: There's a healthcare CMP option too. 
  2. CSEP: Certified Special Events Professional
    What is it? If you're all about those special gatherings, the CSEP is for you. Endorsed by the ILEA (International Live Events Association), it proves you're an events industry pro. Plus, it connects you with other certified planners worldwide!  
    How do I get it? To take the CSEP exam, you'll need at least three years of full-time special events experience. It's offered four times a year. You must keep those skills sharp, so recertification happens every five years. Check out the ILEA website for details and prep tips. 
  3. CPCE: Certified Professional in Catering and Events 
    What is it? Do you love weddings, food-focused events, and making things delicious? The CPCE is your jam. Run by the NACE (National Association for Catering and Events), it shows you're an expert in catering and events. 
    How do I get it? This one's serious. The exam has 175 multiple-choice questions covering everything from accounting and drinks to marketing and staffing. If you nail it, you've got the catering and events world at your fingertips. 
  4. CGMP: Certified Government Meeting Professional 
    What is it? Government events have their own unique rules and regulations. The CGMP proves you know those rules like the back of your hand. It's the top certification for government planners and suppliers. 
    How do I get it? Get ready for a deep dive. Besides a 100-question exam, there's a three-day course on things like ethics, budgets, travel rules, and contracts specific to government work. 
  5. GTP: Global Travel Professional 
    What is it? All about business travel? The GTP is your ticket to the top! Run by the Global Business Travel Association, it raises the bar for pros in this area. Earning it proves you're the real deal and helps employers pick the best of the best. How do I get it? The GTP exam is no joke. It tests everything from business planning and deals to data and finance. The good news is they offer lots of support, like study guides and prep courses, to help you succeed. 


How do I start an event planning career?

There are a few ways to start your event planning career, including:        

  • Formal Education: You can get a bachelor's degree in event management, hospitality management, or public relations. 
  • Hands-on Experience: Look for internships at event planning companies or departments. Another option is volunteering at non-profit organizations, charities, or festival organizers who always seek help with event planning and execution. 
  • Event Planning Courses: Consider taking event planning courses or certifications. These courses can provide focused training on specific event planning topics and help you develop your budgeting, marketing, and event design skills. 

Can I do event planning as a "side hustle?"

Absolutely. Starting small is a great way to test the waters and gain experience. Here are some ideas:       

  • Offer to help with a friend or family member's party. This is a low-pressure way to get your feet wet and see if you enjoy the event planning process. 
  • Volunteer your services at local events. Many community organizations, charities, and festival organizers can use help with event planning and execution. This is a fantastic way to build skills, network with other event professionals, and gain valuable experience. 
  • Start small and build your portfolio. Once you've gained some experience, consider offering your event planning services freelance. Focus on smaller events like birthday parties, baby showers, or corporate meetings. As you build your portfolio and client list, you can take on larger and more complex events. 

What are the most profitable events?

The profitability of an event depends on several factors, such as the type of event, the size and location of the event, and your target audience. However, here are some generally profitable event niches: 

  • Corporate events: Large conferences, trade shows, and product launches can be quite lucrative, especially if they attract many attendees or charge premium fees. 
  • Weddings: High-end weddings can be very profitable, especially if you specialize in luxury weddings or destination weddings. 
  • Private parties: Events such as galas, charity balls, and social gatherings can also be profitable, depending on the budget and the clientele. 
  • Niche events: Specializing in a particular niche, such as green, sustainable, or cultural events, can be a great way to stand out from the competition and command higher fees. 
Event Organizers

How to Become an Event Organizer: Gaining the Right Experience

With 85% of event planners optimistic about their future job security and only 15% expressing concern or worry, event planning is a great career. All you need is a passion for planning and a knack for organization.  

This post covers the basics, but there are always new things to learn and skills to master. Ready to dive in deeper? Check out courses, certifications, and hands-on opportunities to launch your dream career.


John Hunter

John Hunter

John is the Senior Manager of Event Cloud Content Marketing at Cvent. He has 11 years of experience writing about the meetings and events industry. John also has extensive copywriting experience across diverse industries, including broadcast television, retail advertising, associations, higher education, and corporate PR.

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