What Is an Average Salary for an Event Planner?

An event planner standing in an empty ballroom they are considering using.

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An event planner will help to coordinate the planning and holding of meetings, and conventions. They will work with many aspects of these gatherings including the venue, food and beverage offerings, and music or other entertainment. Planners focus on the layout of a space based on the particular function and the expected attendance. Globally speaking, event planers are part of the hospitality industry.

Event Planner Average Salary

The median annual salary for event planners was about $48,000 as of 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Salaries can vary widely, though, depending on the type of organization that employs you.

For example, if you work for a large corporation planning annual meetings and conventions, you can expect a salary on the higher end of the scale. However, if you instead choose to plan fundraising activities for a nonprofit, you may be on the lower side of the salary range.

Location affects your salary as well. If you live and work in a metropolitan area, you can command a higher salary than an event planner in a more suburban or rural area.

Career Outlook

Demand for event planners is expected to grow during the decade from 2016 through 2026, according to the BLS. Average job growth for all careers during that time period is projected to be about 7%, but that number is 11% for event planners.

Technology related to communication has improved considerably in recent decades, but not in a way that would replace the need for occasional events, seminars, or conventions designed to be attended in person. A good grasp of technology is something that can help an event planner grow in the field, as even events designed for those attending in person can be shared through live streaming or other options.

Career Path

If you are looking to break into event planning, most employers are looking for candidates who either have a bachelor's degree or significant experience in meeting and event management, hospitality, or tourism management.

While certification is not necessary, a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential can provide greater credibility and help you get a job more quickly and command a higher salary.

If you are still in school, you can prepare yourself for your career and build a portfolio by taking on paid or unpaid internships. By working alongside experienced professionals while you're still in college, you can get hands-on experience planning events. An internship can give you an edge when you're job searching and can help build your professional network.

Necessary Skills

Event planners need to be meticulously organized. Even small events have many different components, including vendors, caterers, guest speakers, audio-visual technicians, and more. You must be able to work with people at all levels, from senior executives to servers, to ensure that the event happens smoothly.

Negotiation skills also are imperative. Part of your job is to keep the event within budget, which often means going back to vendors to discuss pricing and negotiate a better deal.

Finally, the most important part of being a successful event planner is your ability to maintain your composure. Things can go wrong, and they often do. Your speaker may not show up, the caterer may not have prepared enough food, or the video that is the keynote of the event may not play. You must be able to handle every mishap gracefully and calmly and come up with solutions.

A career in event planning can be challenging, but it can be a lucrative job with strong growth potential in the future.