According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of meeting, convention, and event planners is projected to grow 33 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. U.S. News & World Report ranked the meeting, convention and event planner role as its pick for the No.12 best business job in 2015 and one of the 100 best jobs overall.
In the past, meeting and event planning has often been associated with marketing, PR or administrative roles in many organizations. With increasing globalization and financial investment, there has been a movement toward a new level of professionalism in event production, and hospitality-specific credentials (both academic and professional) are increasingly important indicators for hiring and advancement.
For example, the BLS reports that job opportunities are greater for meeting and event planners with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality or tourism management. A meeting and event degree program offers the necessary foundation in hospitality management along with relevant coursework and hands-on event planning experience through internships and on-campus projects. Such programs give students grounding in theory as well as practice, emphasizing the processes, tools and best practices that ensure more successful meetings and events. For example, in the Kendall College Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition (MICE) Concentration, students hone their technical and interpersonal skills coordinating events for various school departments, including Student Life, Career Services and the School of Hospitality Management Advisory Board.
Degrees in meeting and event planning are also showing of benefits for career advancement as well. In its 2015 salary survey, the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) members reported median salaries above $75,000 a year, well in excess of the average planner salary of $50,000 reported by BLS. Not surprisingly, nearly 75 percent of respondents to the PCMA survey had a college or advanced degree and nearly 88 percent earned a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) designation. Since planners cannot sit for the CMP without 3 – 5 years’ experience, academic preparation would appear to be the most effective pathway to professional certification.
Given the increasing growth and sophistication of the meeting and event industry, now is a good time to think about going back to school, whether you are seeking your first bachelor’s degree or adding further study in meeting and events planning to an existing degree.
Deborah Popely is Assistant Professor, Kendall College School of Hospitality Management
Deborah Popely has more than 30 years’ experience as an event planner and meeting facilitator. She is the founding executive director of Green Events Source, a non-profit dedicated to increasing sustainability in the events and hospitality industries. She has served as a presenter and keynote speaker for national industry organizations including Hospitality and Sales Marketing Association International (HSMAI), Meeting Planners International (MPI) and the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC). Ms. Popely actively participates in the events industry and conducts research in order to educate and propel the hospitality industry forward in the area of sustainability.