How to Become an Event Planner: The Ultimate Guide
Do you want to know how to become an event planner? Then look no further, because you’ve come to the right place!
I’m willing to bet that you have tons of questions about this new, exciting career path. Luckily, I’m going to help answer ALL of them for you in this article!
All you need to do is sit back, relax, and put your feet up. In just a few minutes, you’re going to learn everything you need to know in order to start the job of your dreams!
Is Event Planning a Good Career?
Firstly, if you’re passionate about planning events and making people’s dreams come true, then it goes without saying that you were born for this profession. Secondly, the best career paths are those that allow you to tap into your creativity, while also making a genuine impact on your clients’ lives. In that sense, being an event planner will definitely check these boxes for you!
Job Description of an Event Planner
Look, I won’t lie: being an event planner is not an easy job. It’ll be incredibly demanding and require a LOT of organization on your part. That said, it’s also remarkably rewarding and exciting for those willing to put in the work.
As an event planner, these are just some of the tasks you’ll be responsible for on a regular basis:
- Conducting client consultations and follow-up appointments;
- Creating the event concept;
- Writing contracts between you and your clients, as well you and your vendors;
- Helping your client solidify their budget, and then working within it throughout the planning process;
- Developing event timelines (e.g. 6-month timeline, 3-month timeline, 1-month timeline, day-of timeline, etc.);
- Researching, contacting, and booking different vendors, venues, and suppliers;
- Making sure deadlines are met and that everyone stays on track for (and on) the big day;
- Mitigating unexpected emergencies;
- Ensuring that the day of the event runs as smooth as possible, etc.
Demand: Is it Worth it To Become an Event Planner?
For as long as people have been on this planet, we’ve desired the chance to celebrate special milestones in our lives. Birthday parties, baptisms, retirement parties, proposals, anniversaries, etc… These are all things that are never going anywhere. This means that for those who want to get started as an event planner, such as yourself, there will ALWAYS be a high demand for your services!
Moreover, there’s also the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic to take into consideration, too. Throughout 2020, we experienced what felt like endless lockdowns. As a result, the majority of us had no choice but to postpone our special celebrations. But now that things are finally starting to return to normal, everyone’s only too eager now to get their events back on track.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Become an Event Planner?
Before you start a career as an event planner, you first need to understand the necessary skills and training you’ll need to thrive. Now, I won’t lie – when it comes to training requirements, this is where things get a little tricky…
Technically, a proper education/certification is not required in order to work as a professional event planner. For this very reason, some aspiring planners choose to jump straight into the industry without any prior experience. They think that because they have a knack for putting together memorable parties, that’ll be enough for them to be successful in the world of professional events.
However, this is where they are wrong!
The fact is, there’s a LOT more to professional event planning than meets the eye. For instance, you need to thoroughly understand:
- How to provide top-notch customer service;
- The proper ways of dealing with client conflict;
- Different types of clients you’ll be working with, as well as the different types of events you’ll organize;
- How to research into and book different types of vendors and suppliers;
- How to develop (and then carry out) event timelines;
- Assisting your client with developing their budget;
- Working within that allotted budget, trimming down “must-haves”, and securing more funds (if necessary);
- Different types of events and their religious and/or cultural significances;
- The importance of bringing together the entire theme of the event through the use of color, decor, florals, etc.;
- The do’s and don’ts of writing airtight client and vendor contracts;
- And MUCH more!
Furthermore, you’ll also to need to know how to launch and run your very own professional event planning business.
After all, you can be the best there is putting together a celebration. But if you don’t know how to conduct yourself professionally, properly build your brand, develop contracts, and successfully attract (and retain) clients, your skill-set alone won’t be enough to cultivate a long-term career.
Event Planning in 2021-2022: The Rise of Virtual and Hybrid Events
While the demand of in-person events is increasing again, 2020 showed us just how popular virtual and hybrid celebrations are these days. With safety precautions still top-of-mind, these types of events will allow you to continue working with clients and booking jobs, regardless of potential restrictions or personal hesitancies.
Yes, you can absolutely make a career for yourself by specializing only in in-person services. However, given everything that’s still going on in the world, you’re more likely to find success (particularly, for the time being) if your business offers more options to choose from. After all, some parts of the world are still under heavier restrictions. Some clients still aren’t comfortable with large, lavish get-togethers.
By offering in-person, virtual, and hybrid planning services all under one roof, you’ll be broadening your client reach while also bettering your booking potential at the same time. As a result, you’ll be able to maximize the current demand for every type of event imaginable!
New to virtual events and not sure how to offer these services to your clients? QC Event School’s 1-unit Virtual Events Training Course will teach you everything you need to know in as little as a month!
How Much Do Event Planners Make?
Since you’re researching what it takes to work as an event planner, I’m going to assume that the topic of salary is important to you. And hey, I don’t blame you. Since this is the job you want to turn into a fruitful, full-time career, it’s going to need to bring in enough to pay the bills!
The thing is, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” salary. For instance, two planners living in the exact same city can wind up making two completely different incomes.
How much money you make will depend on a number of impacting factors, such as:
- Where you live (i.e. do you reside in a small town? A big city? Etc.);
- Whether you’re booking events full-time or part-time;
- Whether you’re running your own business or working for a company;
- The efforts you’re willing to put into your marketing strategies, client acquisition/retention, website, social media channels, etc.
- The types of event planning services you offer;
- Whether or not you also offer other types of services (e.g. corporate events, destination events, weddings, etc.).
With that in mind, I can provide some general figures, based on Google research. These should give you a better idea of potential salary ranges you can wind up making, depending on your location.
As of August 2nd, 2021, PayScale reported that event planners in Canada make an average yearly income of $49,618 CAD. In the United States, Indeed reported that based on 313 salaries, and as of September 3rd, 2021, full-time event planners are estimated to earn approx. $38,183 USD per year.
If you live in the United Kingdom, Indeed also found that as of September 2nd (and based off of 59 salaries), event planners in the UK make an average of approx. £24,297 per year. This is equivalent to $42,583 USD. For event planners living in Australia, PayScale states that as of August 24th, 2021, and based on 52 salaries provided, event planners can expect to earn approx. $58,608 AUD/year – which is approx. $43,290 USD.
The Added Value of an Event Planner Certification
Earning a reputable event planner certification won’t just make you a master of planning events…
It’ll also attract more clients, improve your booking potential, and increase your salary, too!
This is because prospective clients will always prefer to work with an event planner who’s taken the time to earn their stripes. Furthermore, when you get a proper education, it means that you’re investing time, money, and effort into your skill-set. Thus, once you have your certification, you’ve earned the right to price your event planner services in a way that properly reflects that.
Furthermore, if your business offers other types of services, you can raise the rates of those, too!
Having a credible event planning certification also does wonders in terms of helping you stand out from the crowd. Of course, setting yourself apart from the local competition will elevate your business and definitely help you better your bottom line!
What are The 5 C’s of Event Management?
If you want to know how to be an event planner, you’ll NEED to have a firm grasp on the 5 cardinal C’s of event management. They are:
Of course, I recommend doing a more in-depth read into these 5 concepts – but for the time being, here’s a small summary of what each one is and why they’re so crucial when putting together your client’s big day!
1 – Concept
You can’t organize an event if you don’t have a clear picture in your mind of what the event is supposed to look like, what it’s supposed to mean, etc. Thus, no celebration can be brought to life without first creating its concept.
The best place to start is by determining why the event is being held in the first place. From there, you can narrow down who the celebration is for, what it should consist of, and how you’ll need to go about turning the concept into a reality.
2 – Coordination
After you’ve conceptualized your client’s event, the next step will be to coordinate it. This done done by deciding the theme or overarching idea for the event. Additionally, this will be the stage where you figure out the people and services required to make the event a success. Vendors, suppliers, venues, guest speakers, etc. are all common examples included in this list.
Other key duties during the coordination stage include:
- Reserving the venue
- Ironing out your client’s budget
- Delegating necessary tasks
- Creating the timeline(s)
- Sending out invitations
- Marketing the event (if applicable)
3 – Control
As an event planner, it’s important to always keep some level of flexibility. After all, no one wants to work with a planner who doesn’t give any wiggle room or listens to other people’s ideas. That said, maintaining a certain level of control over the planning process and event as a whole is very important.
It’ll be up to you to make sure everyone’s meeting their deadlines. On the day of the event, it’ll be your responsibility to ensure that things run smoothly, on time, and without any unwanted surprises. The more proactive you are throughout the planning stage, the easier the big day will flow when the time finally arrives.
4 – Culmination
Obviously, all of your planning and hard work is, ultimately, for one reason: the big day itself. On that day, it’ll be critical that things go according to plan, as mentioned above. This is why the first 3 C’s are so fundamental. When you do everything needed in those first 3 steps, you’re setting yourself up for success by the culmination stage.
Thanks to the timelines you put together and distributed accordingly, all parties will know exactly when their services are required. Because you were on top of everyone meeting their deadlines, everything needed for the big day to be a success is present and accounted for. From there, it’s all a matter of keeping alert and executing the day-of plan to the best of your ability.
5 – Closeout
Your job doesn’t end once the last guest the event, however. You’ll still need to tie up the loose ends! This could include paying out all of the vendors and suppliers, as well as the venue. It could also be receiving any outstanding payments still owed to your business.
If the event was for a corporate company, this will be the time to gather guest feedback and statistics, so your client can see if their goals were met. Moreover, it’s always a great idea to obtain positive testimonials that you can use yourself, on your website, social media platforms, etc.
Now that you know what it takes to be an event planner, the question is: how can you actually start your career as an event planner?
Below are 6 steps that will guide you through the process!
Step One: Research The Event Planning Industry
Demand in Your Area
The best place to start is by first getting an idea of what the demand is like for event planners in your area. The last thing you want is to put all this effort into your business, only to find out that the demand actually isn’t high where you live.
So, how can you find this out?
By doing a little digging, of course! Go online and see what some of the most relevant/popular inquiries are in your town or city when it comes to event planning and event planner services.
Furthermore, I strongly recommend researching your local competition as well. By seeing how their businesses appear to be thriving, you’ll get a better idea of how yours will fare. For example, do they have extensive portfolios and/or lots of client testimonials on their website and/or social media? This could be a good indication of the number of events they’ve been booked – and whether or not that number is high.
Pro Tip: If the demand isn’t quite as high as you want it to be, this is yet ANOTHER reason to offer virtual services as part of your business. Virtual services will allow you to work with long distance clientele outside of your city, thereby eliminating any travel limitations otherwise imposed on you!
Popular Types of Events
“Event planning” is an incredibly broad term used to embody a wide variety of celebrations. But certain types of events are undoubtedly more popular than others. As such, another key part of your research should include learning more about the specific kinds of events that are extremely popular and in high demand.
For example, you could be setting your career up at an advantage if you were to offer planning services for the following kinds of events:
- Birthday parties
- Milestone parties
- Engagement parties
- Bar and bat mitzvahs
- Corporate events
- Baby showers and gender reveals
Step Two: Decide on What Type of Event Planner You Want to Become
If you’d like your business to have a particular niche (or a small set of niches), you can always pick 2 or 3 types of events that you’re most passionate about and specialize in those. Of course, if you want to offer a wider variety of choices for clients, don’t feel you need to limit yourself either.
Examples of niches you can have include (but are not limited to):
- Private event planner
- Party planner
- Wedding planner
- Corporate event planner
- Proposal planner
- Baby shower / gender reveal planner
- Festival / live event planner
- Promotional planner
- Funeral planner
- Destination planner
- Luxury planner
- Virtual planner
Moreover, you can also specialize in complimentary event services that pair perfectly with your planning skill-set and make that your niche. For example, your business can also offer event decor services, floral design services, etc.
Just ensure that whichever types of events you want to plan, you have the necessary knowledge and skill-set needed to deliver the desired (and expected) results!
Fun fact: QC Event School’s plethora of self-paced, online certification courses will prepare you for ALL of the above event planner career paths! Check out our full list of course outlines here!
Step Three: Learn How to Become an Event Planner and Get Professionally Certified!
By this stage of your journey, it’ll be time to get professionally trained and certified as an event planner!
QC Event School offers 5 incredible Foundation Courses to choose from, along with 8 Specialty Courses. These programs are geared towards individuals with ANY skill-set. Thus, whether you’re brand-new to the industry or already an experienced planner, you’ll obtain valuable information and skills from your training!
What’s more – all of our courses provide either a certification or a certificate of completion when you graduate. Plus, every course is guaranteed to give you a new, reputable designation that you can add to your resume! All of our certifications, certificates, and official designations are internationally-recognized. Plus, they’re also approved by the International Live Events Association (ILEA)!
What to Expect as a QC Student
Starting on the day you enroll, you’ll have a full 2 years to finish your program. However, our online learning environment is 100% self-paced. This means that you can choose how much – or how little – of that time you’ll actually need.
In fact, many of our awesome graduates found that they by simply devoting 1-2 hours per week on their studies, they were able to earn their certification(s) in as little as 3-6 months!
After you enroll, you’ll receive your login details for QC’s Online Student Center within 1-2 days. Here, you’ll have access to all of your digital course textbooks, quizzes, instructional videos, and assignments. That said, if you prefer to learn from physical course materials, don’t worry – QC will mail those out to you as well, at no extra cost. You should receive them within 1-2 weeks.
Another perk of QC Event School’s event planner training is that your tutor is a real-world industry expert with years of experience to their name. After each unit you submit, your assigned tutor will go through all of your work with a fine-toothed comb. Afterwards, they’ll submit your grades and you’ll receive thorough audio feedback, which will help you recognize where your current strengths and weaknesses are.
Why do past alumni recommend QC Event School so much? Found out here!
Step Four: Network with Other Event Planners in Your Area
Networking will be your greatest asset as you become an event planner. Full stop! It’s one of the single smartest ways to advance your career, since the event industry is actually a pretty close community.
It won’t take long for you to meet and/or become acquainted with the other event planners in your local area. Moreover, you’ll also get to know vendors, suppliers, venues, and other types of planners.
Now, you might be surprised that I’m encouraging you to make friends with the other event planners near you. But remember: just because they’re technically your “competition” does NOT mean they aren’t also allies, too. It’s important for you to establish positive connections with other professionals in the industry – and this includes your competitors.
“But why is it so important for me to do this?” you may be wondering.
It’s quite simple: it’s in your career’s best interest. Whenever you network, you’re increasing your chances of getting word-of-mouth and/or online referrals. Even other event planners could wind up sending potential clients your way if their own schedules are too booked up. So long as they trust that you’d do the same for them, if the shoe were on the other foot, then they’ll always be more than happy to help you out when they can.
At the end of the day, you’ll have a much more successful career if you regularly network with other event planners!
Step Five: Start Marketing Your Event Planner Services
This is the stage of your new career where it’s time to get your name out there. But before you do that, don’t forget to actually build up a solid business first!
Once you decide what you want to call your business, get that name legally registered. That way, no one else can take it from you. Next, secure domain handles for your official website and social media channels. Ideally, your domain name and handles should be the same as your business name.
As you develop your business and social media presence, take the time to ensure you know what your brand is. Your brand is, in a nutshell, how you want the world to see your business. It’s the message you want your company to convey, the colors you want people to associate with you, and the emotions/vibe you want your business name alone to evoke. Once you have your brand ironed out, you can find ways to incorporate it into the aesthetic of your site and social media.
Lastly, don’t forget to determine your target clientele. Who do you want to work with? How will you cater your business to them, to make these people more likely to book with YOU over other planners? Knowing your target audience is critical.
There are a million ways you can promote your business once you have it off the ground. As we discussed above, networking is obviously a big one. Having a professional website that provides all must-know information and your professional portfolio is another great way to market yourself. And, of course, being active and growing your following on social media will definitely help your business get more exposure.
But what other ways can you market your business?
Here are a few ideas:
- Invest in the right marketing ads
- Do a press release for your new business
- Start an email campaign and/or newsletter
- Organize in stylized photoshoots with other industry experts in your area
- Be proactive and connect with local venues
- Attend both virtual and in-person conferences, trade shows, etc.
- Write a blog and/or outsource your subject-matter expertise to other publications
- Provide complimentary services to friends and family (particularly at the beginning of your career)
- Lend your event planning services to charities and not-for-profit organizations
Step Six: Stay on Top of Changing Trends in The Event Industry
Between you and me, this is the step that most aspiring event planners tend to forget about… And ultimately, this is precisely why they’re unsuccessful in the long run. In order to become an event planner and actually thrive, you need to get properly trained and really learn your stuff.
But the reality of it is, taking one or two courses at the beginning of your career won’t be enough!
The learning process will, in fact, be a lifelong effort. After all, the event industry is constantly evolving. With every new season comes new color trends, decor styles, popular “hacks”, etc. Moreover, the pandemic showed us that the way clients need their events organized can transform and change at the drop of a hat!
As a result, there will ALWAYS be new trends to try, new skills to master, and new knowledge to acquire.
If you limit your training, you’re going to be limiting your career’s potential. By staying in one place for too long, you’ll inevitably become stagnant. So will your subject-matter expertise. And unfortunately, your clients will notice this in due time.
So, always be proactive about expanding your education! Enroll in more courses, further your training, and add even more certifications to your resume. You can also browse social media during your downtime, read event/event planning publications, and research the latest trends as they come.
Ultimately, the more up-to-date you keep your expertise, the longer you’ll be able to make your mark on the event planning world!