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What are the Qualifications to Become an Event Planner and Where are the Jobs?

Updated on September 24, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish is a successful employment & training pro, setting Midwest regional records with tens of thousands placed in gainful employment.

A New Job Emerges 2000 - 2020

During the 1980s - 2000, the duties of the position that emerged to become the Event Planner were often included in other occupations.

These jobs were sometimes found within positions like Public Relations Specialist or Communications Coordinator in large companies. As events grew in number, event planning duties were often given to a team of administrative assistants or secretaries, until a full-time position became clearly indicated.

As events became larger and more important, and occurred more frequently in some American markets, event planning duties expanded and a separate job title was needed. Hence, the Event Planner emerged.

Food service and menus are very important parts of event planning.
Food service and menus are very important parts of event planning. | Source

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

The US DOL uses its Occupational Outlook publication each year to inform the public about job titles, their requirements, their everyday job duties, and their outlook for future expansion. In 2011 Event Planner fell into a category of job titles listed under Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners .

During the Barack Obama US Presidential Administration of 2009 - 2012, some large meetings, conventions, and other special events among members of Corporate America were questioned as out-sized and unnecessary.

Multimillion-dollar bonuses paid to CEOs at multimillion-dollar annual vacation and conference meetings of companies that accepted ARRA or Bailout funds were questioned stridently by a segment of citizens.

Some of this horror at big ticket events during a recession was felt to have culminated in the Occupy Wall Street protests, although other voices condemned the OWS for paid participants and widespread littering.

As advised by a Chinese proverb, apt in that the USA borrowed large funds from China, it was an interesting time. However, Event Planning continued to increase as an industry and source of jobs in 2011 - 2012 (see growth rates below). In fact, governments in America are a major user of event planners.

Opened in 2006, the Operations Support Building II at NASA's Kennedy Space Center contains a well used conference center.
Opened in 2006, the Operations Support Building II at NASA's Kennedy Space Center contains a well used conference center. | Source

Interesting Facts

The DOL (US Department of Labor) estimated a total of 56,950 Meeting, Conference and Event Planners were working in the USA in May 2010, not including self-employed people in these occupations. In fact, some individuals begin by planning a few events on their own and expanding into their own Event Planning Companies.

For instance, two women began a catering business in their small kitchen in the 1980s in my city. They expanded quickly and sold a much larger business that became in the 2010s a huge Event Planning Company with a campus of facilities that include a banquet hall that can be used for dances and balls. This illustrates the demand for even planning in the Midwest, the demand likely being higher on the East and West Coasts.

What are the "events" that require planning? The Olympic Games comprise a huge event, as do the Academy Awards. In Columbus OH, Mar-Con Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention requires planning, beginning the day after its completion every year on Memorial Day Weekend (switched to Easter Weekend in 2012).

The Rose Parade in Pasadena begins planning immediately every January Rose Bowl weekend. Banquets and meetings for Big 10 college athletics are large and must be well planned. Yearly corporate meetings require planning, some extensively so in that they occur in exotic locations. For instance, one pizza restaurant chain holds conferences in Las Vegas and another Midwest company takes their managers to Hawaii -- Planning is essential co coordinate all the related activities and travel.

Weddings and birthday parties are other special events that can require a dedicated planner. Special events are taking place frequently in the US and some major cities are known as conference hubs. Event planning is part of all of these ventures. And here's a newer activity needing event planners - speed dating events!

The AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
The AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center at the University of Texas at Austin. | Source

Large Increase in the Need for Event Planners Nationwide During the Obama Presidential Administration 2009 - 20112


The Job Of Event Planner

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

  • According to DOL statistics, the average wage for event planners working for someone else in May 2010 was $23.45/hour, over three times minimum wage and over $48,000 annual income.
  • The range of income in these occupations in 2014 was $27,090 to $76,840, with the highest paid example being with a telecommunications company.


Increasing numbers of employers are asking job candidates to possess a Bachelor's Degree of some sort, because the duties and responsibilities of these jobs is increasing in the 2010s. Numbers of jobs are also increasing and expected to increase at an above average rate through 2018.

Suggested college majors:

  • Business,
  • Communications,
  • Marketing/sales,
  • Public relations,
  • Hotel and hospitality management.

On the Job Training can help a job candidate become a planner, such as vent planning experience gained as an administrative assistant or in a job involves hotel marketing (conferences and special events are a hotel mainstay). Such experience can increase the job candidate's starting pay as well. Ongoing professional development may be offered at the work site or in partnership with a college or university.


  • Outstanding written and verbal communications.
  • Well developed interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to build business relationships.
  • Demonstrated attention to detail and organizing.
  • Consistent ability to meet multiple deadlines.
  • Quantitative and analytical skills - Budgets and forecasting, contract negotiations, other.
  • Knowledge of additional languages besides English - Depends on location of work site.
  • Technologically savvy - Computer literacy and knowledge of financial and scheduling software. Knowledge of SmartPhones, iPads, other.


The states in which the highest numbers of people work in these positions are California, New York, and Texas. However, the single metropolitan area that includes the most workers in these jobs is the New York - White Plains-Wayne NY-NJ Area, followed by the Greater Washington DC Area (DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division).


The most openings among 10,000 listings consistently from 2010 - 2016 advertising for planners of events, meetings, and conventions were offered in these Top Cities:

  1. New York City,
  2. Chicago and Hoffman Estates IL,
  3. Washington DC,
  4. Los Angeles and San Francisco CA,
  5. Houston and Dallas TX,
  6. Seattle WA,
  7. Bentonville AR,
  8. Boston MA,
  9. Atlanta GA,
  10. Miami FL.

Top 5 Questions For An Event Planner

Companies Hiring the Most Event Planners

  2. Hotels: Gaylord Hotels, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Marriott, Hyatt Hotels, Sheraton Music City
  3. Federal, state, and local governments.
  4. Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores - craft and holiday events, others.
  5. Macy's
  6. Brookdale Senior Living
  7. Dream Careers Internships - San Francisco
  8. Ernst & Young
  9. National Association of Broadcasters
  10. Northeastern University
  11. Brunswick Bowling and Billiards
  12. University of Chicago

© 2011 Patty Inglish MS


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