Event Planning Certification

Do I Need to Get Certified
to Get an Event Planning Job?

There is a huge misunderstanding about what event planning certification is, who needs it, and what it can do for you.  Understanding the truth about event planning certification is one of the most important first steps you can take toward your success.

One of the biggest misconceptions that many beginners have about the event planning industry is that "getting certified" is a legitimate requirement to begin your career.  Many event planner hopefuls believe that all it takes to break into the industry is to take a course, become a "certified event planner," and you'll automatically land a job thanks to your certification alone.  

This is not true; mainly because there is no such thing as certification for beginners.  The very concept of  event planning certification for people just starting out in the industry is contradictory; because you can't get certified in something you've never done before.  

True "certification" is a statement of someone's knowledge and expertise in a particular field or area of specialty.  You can't become an expert in event planning just from taking a course, and you can't be an expert in planning events if you've never planned an event before!  

Event planning certification is a measure of your expertise the industry; it's a badge of honor to show that you do know the field and you are an expert. Once you become certified, it is a designation you can put after your name and title to show your knowledge and years of experience in the field.  Much like the designations of "M.D." or "PhD" in the medical and psychology fields, true event planning certification is something that must be earned after years of hands-on, real-life experience.  

While many online courses make such promises, the reality is that there aren't any reputable "certifications" for beginners or anyone just starting their career in event planning.  These "certifications" are created by these companies who just want to make a sale off you; but everyone in the industry, including the people who are in a position to hire you, see right through these "certification" programs.  There is not one "beginner's" certification program out there that will automatically open doors for you by taking the course alone.  

Therefore, most legitimate event planning certifications require that you have at least three to five years of experience before you can even attempt to take the test to become certified.

Why "Event Planning Certification" is so misleading

In many industries, there are set standards that are accepted across the industry and to which all certifying organizations must adhere.  For example, all lawyers must pass the bar, which is a set standardized test that all potential lawyers must pass.  If someone wants to become a Certified Public Accountant, that is also a standardized test that is the same for all applicants within the accounting industry.

You see, there are three types of certification in the professional world.  

  • Corporate or "Internal" Certifications: These certifications are created by a company to use internally; for example, a company might create a one-day sales training and the employees must pass the test to "get certified."  This certification means nothing to anyone outside the company.  
  • Product-Specific Certifications: This is used to show a person's understanding of a product; for example, if an IT person gets certified on certain software.  
  • Profession-Wide Certifications:  In this case, a certain organization must create a certification program that is universally accepted across that specific industry.  For example, there are universally-accepted certifications in real estate, aviation, or accounting.

In the event planning industry, almost every single "certification" program that you come across is an "Internal" Certification; it doesn't mean anything to anyone outside of that company.  However, these companies have discovered that they can make a lot more money if they convince beginners that you need this certain "certification" in order to begin your career.  

In other words, just about anyone can create their own "certification" and say it's legitimate; even if it really means nothing to others in the industry.  There aren't any industry-wide standardized requirements for someone to declare you as "certified" (other than the two I will list below), and therefore most "certifications," especially for beginners, don't mean much more than proof that you took an online course and passed a test.  

The main exceptions in the event planning industry are the following two certifications.  These are the main two certifications that are recognized by everyone in the industry; however since they are true "certification" designations, they require that you first must have at least 3-5 years of experience in event planning and currently be employed before event attempting to take the test. 

Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)
The CMP is the most recognized certification n the meeting and event planning industry; and is the only certification that is widely recognized and reputable.  Candidates must have three years of event planning experience and currently have a full-time job in the industry in order to apply.  

Certified Special Events Professional 
The CSEP is the only other openly recognized certification in the event planning industry; and focuses more on special events than meeting planning.  Just like with the CMP, candidates are required to have had three years of experience in the industry and must be currently employed or have been employed in the special events industry in the last twelve months.  

There are a few other certifications that apply to specific industries within event planning; such as catering, hotel management, etc.  However, the CMP and the CSEP are the two main, accepted certifications for event planners.  Any other certifications are just pieces of paper from different organizations that may or may not mean anything to your potential future employers or clients.

Most of the schools promising you a "certification" are just hoping to make some money off you;

and the certification will mean nothing in the meeting and event planning industry.

Then How Are Beginners Supposed to Begin their Career?

Again, that's part of the misunderstanding. Many people hoping to become event planners think that if they just take a course that will declare they are "certified," then that is enough to either land them a job or to start their own event planning business.  They get so focused on getting this designation that they forget the important thing is to learn how to plan events.

Don't get so focused on "getting certified" that you forget your true goal
is to learn about event planning.

Don't focus all your efforts on finding a course that will "certify" you; 
instead, focus on finding a course that will actually teach you how to become an event planner.

And not just any event planner; but you need to learn 
about the specific types of events that you want to someday plan!  

That's not to say that you shouldn't take a "certification" course; but you need to take it for the knowledge you will gain from it, and not just the certification you'll get at the end.  Therefore, that means that you need to take the course that will teach you the most applicable information for the type of event planning that you want to do.  

Keep in mind that not all event planning is the same.  Wedding planning is an entirely different process than planning a fundraising event.  Planning birthday parties for kids is nothing like planning a business networking luncheon.  And yet, the majority of event planning certification courses out there lump all of these events together as if they are the same.  They focus on "party" planning (birthday parties, anniversaries, small office parties) and wedding planning; and yet if you hope to go into special events, such as fundraisers, festivals, or corporate events, then these courses are not the most efficient use of your time and money.  

how do i choose which event planning education is right for me?

Although it is important not to fall for the misconception of event planning certification, it is still vitally important to learn everything you can about event planning in order to begin your career.  As I explain in my free four-part online training series, you simply must learn everything you can about event planning before you even begin to start your career.  No employer is going to train you, and you can't start an event planning company if you don't know how to plan events.  

Therefore, you simply must take it upon yourself to learn everything about event planning before you even begin.  But what's the best way to do that?  

If you'd like to read more about event planning courses and education, read the following pages: 

  • Event Planner Certification: This page goes further discusses the concept that event planning certification can be one of the biggest scams in the industry. 
  • Event Planning Education/Courses: This page outlines which path of event planning education is best for you, depending on where you are in your life and what you want for your career.

Are You Ready to Begin Your Career?

In summary, remember that you DO need to take some sort of course or class to learn about event planning before you will ever be considered for even an entry-level position.  These days, the industry is just too competitive; in order to stand out you need to have at least a basic understanding of the industry, the process of planning events, and the "secret language" of event planning.  And if you hope to start your own event planning business, then learning everything about planning events is absolutely critical.  

However, you need to take the right kind of course that will offer applicable information in order to start your career.  The Complete Event Planner Course teaches you absolutely everything you need to know; from an overview of the industry, the different niches in which you might create your career, through to a comprehensive step-by-step guide so that you can plan your first event like a pro; including everything from the initial site inspection through to managing your event on-site when it's time to "go live."  You will learn how to price your services as a successful professional event planner, how to create resumes that get you in the door, and how to start your own business.  You will learn the specifics of fundraising, sponsorship, and working with corporate clients.  

Upon passing the final test, you will receive a Certificate of Completion.  While falling short of calling this a "certification" (as I just explained, that is misleading for people just starting out in the industry), this does certify that you took the course and passed the test.  This framable certificate will prove to potential future employers or clients that you take your career seriously and have learned what it takes to create a solid foundation upon which you will build your event planning career.  

If you're ready to take control of your future and create your destiny, then click here to read more about the Complete Event Planner Course.  

If you're not quite ready to take the plunge into such a deep class, then I offer a variety of other short-topic videos about different aspects of event planning; click here to read more about the various event planning courses we offer.  


Still Have Questions?  
Sign Up for this FREE Four-Part Video Series,
"Three Steps to Become an Event Planner"
and Get All Your Questions Answered

Video #1: How Do
I Get Started?

  • "Where do I begin?"
  • Understanding why all event planning is NOT the same
  • The single most common misunderstanding about event planning

  • The differences between "party" planning, wedding planning, and special event planning
  • The types of events which you will be planning

Video #2: Event Planning Jobs & Careers

  • What is a "niche" and why do you need to choose one as soon as you decide to become a planner

  • The five main ways in which you will find work as an event planner
  • Determining your career goals and what event planning means to you
  • Important factors to consider when choosing your career path

Video #3: The Top Three Mistakes that Beginners Make

  • The Top Three Mistakes 99% of beginners make that will kill your chances before you even begin

  • The simple and obvious reason you're not getting any return calls on your resume

  • The three steps you MUST take if you want to succeed in event planning

Video #4: Certification & Experience

  • The mind-blowing yet pervasive lie about "certification" and how to sift through the conflicting information about certification

  • Do you need to go back to school for an event planning degree? 

  • How to get past that "catch-22" of needing experience before you can get experience

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