Do you throw legendary parties, love colour coordinating your wardrobe and only feel at peace when everything has been checked off your to-do list? Event planning could be the right career path for you so take a look at this step by step guide that will help you through understanding what an event planner does and how you could become one.
1. Research the Profession
Although most people tend to think that event planning and Gatsby scale parties are synonymous, the truth is that the two do not necessarily go hand in hand. In fact, many event planners never even see the back of such parties and are mostly stuck organising conferences and seminars. That of course doesn’t mean that the job isn’t fun. Here’s what becoming an event planner really entails:
Event planners are responsible for arranging the details for events that their clients want to host and ensuring that everything runs smoothly on the day. Generally speaking events can include everything from music festivals and weddings to business seminars and conferences.
To be successful in this profession you are going to need to have excellent communication skills, love taking the lead and not be afraid to negotiate with people. This is the kind of job that is best suited to extroverts as there’s a lot of interaction with large crowds involved. If you are not sure that this job would be right for you, try taking an aptitude test.
Event coordinators are primarily concerned with understanding their clients’ needs and figuring out ways to cater to those needs. It’s important for people in this role to be excellent listeners and to be able to decipher what people want even if they are not able to clearly explain it.
There’s a lot of responsibility involved with this role as you’ll need to work with someone else’s money and under tight budgets to get the best result possible. This means that being able to put everyone else in line is also a vital aspect of this result, while ensuring that the client is happy with the result needs to be your number one priority at all times.
There’s no fixed salary for this profession as compensation packages vary depending on whether you work for a company or are a freelancer, your level of expertise and the size of projects you receive. It’s important to note that this is a profession where experience is extremely valued and so your starting salary will not necessarily reflect your salary potential after a few years in the field.
Starting salaries begin at £15,000 and can range all the way up to £18,000 for entry-level professionals. After a few years you’ll be able to command a much better compensation and you should be looking at roughly £35,000 a year. Senior level professionals usually gain between £30,000 and £50,000 a year.
Event planners do not typically enjoy a quiet 9 to 5 routine as their job generally involves running around to meet different vendors to arrange venues and catering companies. Of course, a lot of that is now taken care of digitally, so don’t be surprised if you are not required to leave the office more than once a day.
What you should note is that this role requires a lot of extra time, especially nearer to each event. During that time you’ll be expected to work evenings and weekends, and you’ll also be expected to be present at each event.
2. Gain the Qualifications
To break into event planning you won’t necessarily need to have a university degree. But, as many people find their way to this profession after a career change, bear in mind that a degree in management, marketing or tourism and leisure can significantly boost your career prospects.
But, it’s important to note, that qualifications and academic education means little in this field. What you need is experience. Walking into an interview after organising 5-6 events, even if you weren’t paid for any of them, will almost guarantee a call back for a second interview, while you shouldn’t be surprised if you get flat-out rejected if you don’t have any sort of experience in the field.
Higher National Diploma
You don’t have a lot of experience, but having a higher national diploma in tourism and hospitality management could help you a lot, so it’s something worth considering. A diploma will help you receive insight that will come in handy when you are trying to pick a venue, or a caterer for an event you are organising, while it will also help you meet and network with other professionals.
A common misconception is that an event planning certification is required to help you get started in this industry. But that is not true. As we’ve already discussed what you need most of all is experience. Be wary of websites that claim to offer online certifications to help you get started as they might not always be accredited and will almost always end up being a waste of time and money.
3. Land Your First Job
Obviously, getting your first job is not as simple as finding an advertisement and responding to it, in fact, to break into this industry you are going to need a lot of hard work and vast determination. Here are a few pointers to help you get started:
Volunteering is a crucial first step in landing your first job as an events planner. Many charities and not-for-profits could use a spare set of hands in fundraising events and not only will this experience help you get a glimpse of what becoming an event planner would be like, it could also allow you to meet people that can help your career.
Build an Impressive Portfolio
Whether it’s from volunteering, or from projects you’ve done on a freelance basis, it’s important to have a carefully curated portfolio that will allow employers and clients to understand what your work is like. Take the lead in any events that are happening in your social environs and use those experiences to build up an impressive portfolio.
Read Up on the Industry
This is especially important if you don’t have a degree since reading can help you gain valuable insight. Follow influencers in the industry (eg. Alon Alroy, Julius Solaris, David Adler etc.) and learn from them. Read magazines and blogs that are relevant to the industry and understand what makes a good event.
Event planning goes hand in hand with PR because being able to effectively network with people is crucial in both these fields. As you’ll discover, networking will remain a vital skill throughout your career, but it’s especially important at the beginning since getting introduced can help you land your first job in the industry.
Undoubtedly you have something unique to offer to this field, to get a job, however, you are going to need to showcase your uniqueness, and there’s no better way to do that than by investing your own brand. Build a website for yourself, add testimonials from people you’ve worked with, pictures from events you’ve organised and share content about your point of view. Also, build your presence on social media and use Linkedin to make professional connections.
Make a List of Companies in the Industry
Although you’ll sometimes find ads for events coordinators on job boards, it’s important to not to rely too much on them. Make a list of the companies in the industry you’d like to work for and approach them to discuss your ideas.
Write a Proposal
Although starting a company of your own so early in your career is not recommended as you’ll neither have the experience nor the network to succeed, you can still try freelancing. Write a proposal for an event coordinator job that’s tailored to each client and approach them with your ideas.
4. Develop Your Career
It’s important for all professionals to continuously strive to develop their career and this is especially important in a profession such as event planning that is so competitive. As such, invest in attending networking events and meeting new potential clients. It’s also a good idea to consider getting certified as it could give you a competitive advantage.
These are two most important event planning certificates to consider:
Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)
This certificate strives to set uniform standards of practice in the industry and promote the status and credibility of the entire profession. It has been around for more than thirty years and as such, can be extremely beneficial to professionals who can enhance their knowledge and performance through it. This certificate has been around for more than thirty years and to qualify for it you’ll need at least three years of experience in the field. To find out more about the requirements of this certificate go the Events Industry Council’s website.
Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP)
Another certificate that can offer a competitive advantage to professionals is the CSEP. It’s an internationally recognised certificate that will add to your expertise and professionalism and increase your career development potential. This certificate also requires a minimum of three years of experience.
Common Career Development Paths for Event Coordinators
Most event planners move to different roles after an average of ten years in the field. These are some of the most common paths they take:
Event managers are essentially responsible for putting together teams to organise events for clients. This path is the natural progression for an event planner as it simply means more responsibilities, bigger scale projects and managing a team. Event managers can make up to £76,000 a year depending on their clientele.
Although less popular, this path is also common amongst event coordinators. If you are planning on pursuing this path you are going to need to get qualified either by getting a degree or by pursuing individual courses that can lead to a deep understanding of the marketing business. Marketing managers can make up to £50,236 depending on the sector and the size of the company.
As events coordinators are well-versed in connecting with people and are exceptionally organised, the progression to office manager could only be natural. Bear in mind, that becoming an office manager is not a particularly prosperous profession as the median salary is only £24,073. It is however ideal for people who are tired of event planning and are looking for a more balanced work schedule.
Becoming an event planner is ideal if you love being around people and are highly organised.
Do you think you’d be good at this job? Let me know in the comment section below.