Meeting and convention planners put together large and important events. They meet with clients to discuss event requirements, work with budgets and bids for services and coordinate lodging, food, transportation and services.
Requirements and Qualifications
Meeting and convention planners typically work full time, with an erratic schedule and long hours leading up to an event and very long hours during an event. You will typically work in an office, moving to an event site to work during the meeting or conference. Regular travel to their events and to evaluate new meeting sites is common. Work can be demanding and you’ll need to think and act quickly to stay on top of emerging situations. Qualities you’ll want to develop before entering the workforce include communications, composure, customer service, problem solving and organization in addition to computer, negotiation and interpersonal skills.
A bachelor’s degree is required for most employers. Applicants with degrees in areas other than hospitality management may require a year or two of similar work experience for the same position. Other degrees that are seen in this sector include marketing, public relations, communications and business. You can also gain experience while in school through internships or providing meeting planning for college clubs.
Steps to Become a Meeting and Convention Planner
After completing your education, you can start doing small event planning or larger event planning under a more experienced meeting and convention planner. Pursuing certification through the Society of Government Meeting Professionals or the Convention Industry Council is often viewed well by employers. Volunteering for more responsibility and finding better ways to do the same job is also favorable for most employers, as is experience with virtual meeting software and social media.
Would you rather deal with a career with a more standardized schedule? Is this sounding like a little too much pressure all at one go? No problem, here are some more careers in a similar vein you may find interesting!
- Good at planning support services? Administrative services managers plan and direct a variety of support services for a business including mail handling, record keeping and facility planning, construction and maintenance.
- Have a fine taste for food? Food service managers take care of daily restaurant operations to ensure that customers are happy with their meals.
- Like working with visitors? Lodging managers run hotels and similar establishments efficiently and profitably while making sure their guests have a pleasant stay.
- Able to put a good spin on things? Public relations managers and specialists help their clients sustain a good public face by planning press releases, public relations programs and fundraising.
- Like to talk about far and distant places? Travel agents make arrangements for travel, lodging, rentals and event admissions for their clients, offering advice where needed.
As of May 2010, the average annual pay for meeting and convention planners was $45,260, over $11,000 over the average of all positions. Most meeting and convention planners work full time, with long and irregular hours leading up to an event and very long hours during a convention or meeting.
Meeting and convention planners have a fabulous outlook! Career opportunities in this path are expected to increase at 44% over the next decade, more than three times faster than the average of all occupations at 14%. There may be strong competition for positions as there are often more applicants than positions. A bachelor’s degree and a Certified Meeting Planner credential will prove very helpful in securing employment.