What Is the Best Degree Path to Becoming a Meeting and Event Planner?

If you’re naturally organized and enjoy the challenge of managing logistics and solving problems, consider a career as a meeting, convention or event planner. The business and financial professionals who choose this rapidly growing career handle the planning of large business, non-profit and personal gatherings and events that range from large parties to serious professional conferences. An undergraduate degree can prepare you for this flourishing career.

The Role of an Event Planner

Virtually all large events require a good deal of planning and organization to go smoothly. Meeting and event planners often specialize in a particular kind of planning, such as corporate business meetings, meetings between government agencies and officials, trade show events for professional organizations, non-profit events, meetings at hotels and convention centers and personal events like weddings. Regardless of what kind of events they plan, they will be responsible for tasks such as:

  • Keeping the cost of the event within the client’s budget and handling the payment of bills
  • Establishing the date, time and location of the event
  • Organizing equipment and activities
  • Registering and checking in attendees
  • Handling vendor contracts through bidding and negotiations
  • Coordinating lodging, transportation and dining

Bachelor’s Degree Options for Aspiring Event Planners

One of the first steps to becoming a meeting or event planner is to earn an undergraduate college degree. In the past, a four-year degree was not as essential as it is today, but increasingly complex tasks in event planning have made a college degree the norm in entry-level education for this career, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The most popular majors for aspiring planners are hospitality and tourism management, degrees which also happen to be among the 50 best online degree programs. Other common programs of study include business, communications, marketing and public relations, the BLS reported. Event planning experience gained through internships or involvement in extracurricular activities can be very valuable, particularly for students who don’t have a background in hospitality or tourism specifically.

When candidates land their first event planner job, they will likely spend their time handling entry-level meeting logistics matters, including guest registration and equipment organizations, according to the BLS. As event planners gain more experience, their responsibilities can expand to tasks like negotiating contracts and interacting with clients.

Meeting and event planners earn a median salary of $45,810 per year, the BLS reported. The job outlook for this profession is highly positive. Over just a decade, the BLS predicts career opportunities for meeting and event planners will increase by 33 percent, much faster than the 11 percent job growth expected across all occupations. Of course, for most professionals who choose a career in meeting and event planning, the challenging nature of the work itself is rewarding. All of these factors, plus factors like above average upward mobility, led U.S. News & World Report to rank meeting, convention and event planner 12th among the best business jobs and 57th on the publication’s 100 Best Jobs list.

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