How to Get Into Event Planning: A Complete Guide for Beginners

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Planning events for a living sounds like a dream—picking food and décor, working with tons of different people, spending your days at cool venues instead of behind a desk. But it takes more than just a love of a great party to succeed in this fast-paced field—you’ve got to have an eye for detail and an ability to handle constant deadlines and pressure.

We sat down with two professional event planners (who, yes, love their jobs) to learn more about what it takes to break in.

Event planning is an exciting career that allows you to bring people together through memorable experiences If you’re creative, organized, and a natural host, you may be wondering how to get started in event planning

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to launch your event planning career, from education and skills to gaining experience and finding job opportunities.

Why Get Into Event Planning?

Event planning is a fast-growing field. The event industry is projected to grow at a rate of 10% over the next decade, faster than the national average. As in-person events bounce back from the pandemic, demand for skilled planners is higher than ever.

Here are some of the top reasons to pursue event planning:

  • Creativity – You get to dream up event themes, decor, activities, menus and more. Event planners are inventive storytellers.

  • Organization – Juggling timelines, vendors, logistics and budgets scratches that project management itch.

  • Connections – You’ll build relationships with clients, venues, vendors and attendees. Events are powered by people

  • Variety – No two events are the same. You may plan conferences, weddings, fundraisers, corporate parties and more.

  • Memorable experiences – Seeing your vision come to life and making an impact is deeply rewarding. You get to create special moments.

If you love planning parties and bringing people together, event planning could be the perfect career path for you.

Education and Skills for Event Planners

A college degree in event planning or a related field like hospitality or communications can be helpful but is not always required. Many event planners have degrees in other areas and transitioned into the field.

More important than a specific degree are the core skills needed to succeed as an event planner:

  • Organization – Juggle numerous moving parts and vendors without dropping any balls

  • Communication – Convey vision clearly to clients and collaborate with vendors

  • Creativity – Conceptualize fresh event themes, decor ideas, activities, menus and more

  • Attention to detail – Catch mistakes and prevent problems through diligent planning

  • Time management – Develop realistic timelines and schedules, meet tight deadlines

  • Multitasking – Balance competing priorities and rapid shifts throughout the event

  • Problem solving – Quickly adapt to issues and changes at events with grace

  • Budgeting – Create event budgets, manage costs and negotiate vendor contracts

  • People skills – Build rapport with clients and form relationships with vendors

  • Stress management – Keep cool under pressure during the planning process and at events

If some of these skills come naturally to you, you likely have the raw abilities to be a successful event coordinator. Other skills can be honed through education and experience in the field.

Education Options for Event Planners

There are many educational options to build your knowledge of the event planning industry:

  • Degree programs – Major in hospitality, event management, communications, marketing or business. A bachelor’s degree in a related field is preferred by many employers.

  • Event planning certificates – Complete a certificate program focused specifically on meetings and event planning through a college or university.

  • Online courses – Take individual online classes in event planning and management through sites like Coursera and Udemy.

  • Industry associations – Organizations like Meeting Professionals International (MPI) offer training, certifications and professional development for planners.

  • Apprenticeships – Shadow and assist an experienced event coordinator to get hands-on training in the field.

Any education you can get that is event-specific will bolster your resume and help you hit the ground running as a planner. But hands-on experience is equally important.

Getting Event Planning Experience

In addition to formal education, real-world event experience is essential. Here are some of the best ways to start getting experience as you pursue an event planning career:

  • Internships – Apply for internships at event planning companies, convention centers, hotels and corporations with big event programs.

  • Entry-level jobs – Take a role as an events assistant, meetings coordinator or junior planner at an agency or venue.

  • Volunteer work – Offer to help plan events for local nonprofits, churches, schools or community groups.

  • Freelance work – Seek out small freelance gigs to plan parties, weddings or events for individuals.

  • Job shadowing – Ask experienced planners if you can shadow them during the planning process and at actual events.

  • Corporate events teams – Large companies often have their own in-house events departments you could gain experience in.

  • Virtual events – Look for opportunities with virtual event platforms and companies that pivoted events online during the pandemic.

Any hands-on planning experience, paid or unpaid, will let you apply your classroom knowledge and start cultivating real event expertise.

Create an Event Planning Portfolio

As you gain education and experience, be sure to document your work and achievements in an event planning portfolio. This portfolio can set you apart in job interviews.

Include items like:

  • Event photos showing your design skills and attention to detail

  • Event plans, timelines and checklists demonstrating your organization

  • Testimonials and reviews from clients, employers and professors

  • Writing samples like event proposals, press releases and blog posts

  • Budgets, invoices and vendor contracts showing your budget management

  • Certifications, training certificates and academic transcripts

  • Awards and recognitions you’ve received for your event work

This portfolio showcases your abilities and achievements as an emerging event pro. Keep it updated as you gain more experience.

Finding a Job in Event Planning

Once you have education, experience and a portfolio, it’s time to find a job. Here are tips for landing your first event coordinator role:

  • Network – Attend industry meetups and conferences to connect with planners and venues. Many jobs come through personal contacts.

  • Search job boards – Check sites like Indeed, LinkedIn and EventCareers for openings at agencies and companies.

  • Follow companies – Identify brands and agencies you admire and watch their sites for job postings.

  • Get certified – Earn certifications through industry organizations to attract recruiter attention.

  • Highlight transferable skills – Tie past experiences in customer service, sales, marketing and office management to event roles.

  • Consider contract work – Taking on short-term contracts can help new planners get experience and make connections.

  • Watch for internship programs – Apply for competitive internships at top agencies, corporations and venues.

With persistence and a polished resume, portfolio and interview skills, you can get your foot in the door. Entry-level jobs andassistant roles allow you to learn the ropes from experienced planners.

Starting Your Own Event Planning Business

Rather than work for an existing company, many planners start their own event planning firms. Here are some tips if you want to go this route:

  • Define your niche – Choose specific types of events like weddings, corporate parties or conferences to specialize in.

  • Create a business plan – Write up your company mission, ideal clients, competitive position, marketing plans and revenue goals.

  • Handle legalities – Form a business entity, get licenses and permits, open a business bank account, get insurance.

  • Fund startup costs – Estimate and secure funding for costs like equipment, software, marketing, etc. to launch.

  • Set pricing – Determine your fee structure based on the scope of services you provide clients.

  • Build a website – Create a professional site to promote your new venture and attract client inquiries.

  • Leverage networks – Ask past employers, vendors you know and industry connections for referrals.

Going independent allows experienced planners creative freedom and control but also comes with risk and the demands of entrepreneurship. Gain some hands-on experience first before launching your own firm.

Event Planning Career Path and Growth

What opportunities exist beyond entry-level event coordinator roles? With demonstrated success, many mid-career and senior planners:

  • Specialize in specific event types like conventions, weddings or fundraising galas.

  • Lead teams of coordinators and oversee major multifaceted events.

  • Manage budgets and negotiate contracts for large corporate clients.

  • Become independent consultants with an elite clientele.

  • Open their own event planning agency and grow a full team.

  • Work for a major venue like a convention center or hotel chain.

  • Organize global events that require international travel and cultural fluency.

The possibilities are wide open to create your own personalized career path in event planning. With the right mix of education, skills and hustle, you can turn your flair for party planning into a thriving career doing what you love.

The event industry offers diverse opportunities to match your abilities and interests. By following

how to get into event planning

Why did you choose this field?

I knew I would never get bored! I needed to find something that would keep me on my toes and wouldnt get monotonous. I wanted a career that was fast-paced where I would be doing something different each day and not stuck behind a desk 40 hours a week. Event planning allows you to work on such a wide variety of projects and no two are exactly the same. Even if you’re planning an annual event, it’s always a challenge to continue to improve it and make it better than it was the year before.

Director of Communications and Events at a Venture Capital Firm and Co-Founder of Conway Amling Strategies and Events

Brief Job Description: At the venture firm, I coordinate all aspects of events, from networking and business development events to summits and investor conferences. I also handle marketing, PR, social media, and investor relations. With Conway Amling, it really depends on what our client wants—we will plan entire events or simply do day-of logistics. We can also develop and implement public relations and media campaigns for our clients.

Years of Professional Experience: 6

How to become an Event Planner!! ll Get certified? What’s the best major to get a degree?

What can I do with a degree in event planning?

Gain experience wherever you can. Find ways to get involved with event planning, build a resume, and start a portfolio. Even if you work in a completely different field, you can volunteer with a local nonprofit and help to plan a fundraising event, or offer to help coordinate an outing or holiday party for your company.

How do I become an event planner?

Another great way to become an event planner is to dive in and start making contacts. That means meeting vendors, venue managers, potential clients, and even your would-be competitors. There are many events worldwide explicitly designed for event planners to forge new business relationships.

What makes a good event planner?

Exceptional content provides better results. Use your natural ability as a conversation starter to foster online discussions. Share tips, checklists, and your favorite event planning software with other planners, or put together a video travel blog to highlight the best event venues in your area.

What is event planning going to be for You?

If you want to start planning events (or take your event creation to the next level), 2024 is the perfect time to do it. Demand is high, and people want memorable experiences to share with one another.

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