Career Choice: Meeting Planner

Career Choice: Meeting Planner
  • Type: Career Type
  • Opening Intro -

    Organizing meetings goes well beyond making a few phone or in-person calls to book a location to hold a meeting.

    Meeting planners must coordinate the entire event, working with meeting hosts, guests, hotels and airlines to ensure that the meeting takes place without a hitch.

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Although a college degree isn’t always necessary to work as a meeting planner, the skills of an experienced administrator are required. More than three quarters of meeting planners have at least an associate degree according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the most sought after candidates also possessing industry credentials.

Duties

Meeting planners visit event facilities to find the right venue to hold a meeting. Planners must ensure that the facility offers their client the right amount of space and amenities. Facilities must be accessible to public transportation and, for large events, close to an airport and offering ample accommodations, eating facilities and entertainment. The planner will visit and inspect a variety of places, negotiate prices, consult with customers, work within budgetary guidelines, book facilities and handle emergencies as these arise.

Training

Many employees require meeting and event planners to have a bachelor’s degree although this requirement is not universal. What is essential is for the planner to carry out the previously mentioned duties. This involves someone who is familiar with meetings management, coursework that is offered by some colleges. A bachelor degree in hospitality can be advantageous, opening the door of employment for some graduates. These professionals must have excellent written and verbal skills, be effective crisis managers, and also be skilled negotiators.

view available positions for meeting planners

Salary

According to the BLS, the average annual salary of meeting planners was $48,780 as of May 2010. Salaries ranged from $27,090 to $76,840, with a median salary of $45,260. Those in the middle 50 percent averaged from $34,800 to $59,130. As of 2010, the bureau reported that there were 56,950 meeting, planning and convention planners at work in the United States.

Employers

The three largest industries employing event planners were business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations; travel accommodation; and other professional services. Average pay was $53,300, $44,800 and $51,490, respectively. Several industries employed fewer than 100 total event planners, but offered the highest pay with wages ranging from $64,620 to $71,090. These industries included wired telecommunication carriers, aerospace parts manufacturing and other communication companies according to the BLS.

Location

Pay rates for meeting planners varies across the country. States where pay exceeded the national average included Hawaii at $54,130; Massachusetts at $56,130; and New Jersey at $56,410. Metropolitan areas offering top pay included the Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown area of upstate New York at $70,570. In Durham, North Carolina, planners averaged $60,460 and in Washington, D.C., these professionals averaged $61,400 annually. The lowest pay levels, ranging from $26,030 to $38,640, were found in the Dakotas, Montana, West Virginia and Kentucky reports the BLS.

Forecast

The job outlook for meeting planners is good, with the bureau forecasting a 16 percent growth rate through 2018. Those event planners with a bachelor’s degree, previous experience and possessing a Certified Meeting Professional credential from the Convention Industry Council are most sought after. Meeting planners will find that their skills are needed across all industries, giving such professionals the opportunity to seek work despite limited knowledge of the employing industry.

References

O-Net Online: Summary Report for: 13-1121.00 – Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition; Meeting and Convention Planners

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Employment Statistics; 13-1121 Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Convention Industry Council; Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) Program: Setting the Standard of Excellence

 
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