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~ the TRUTH about certification
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Event Planning Certification

The Truth About Certification; It's Not What You Think!

The concept of "event planning certification" is perhaps one of the most misleading and confusing concepts in the entire event planning industry.

If you're like most people, once you decided that you wanted to become an event planner, you started to research what type of event planning training you need in order to begin your career.  After all, it is vitally important that you learn as much as you can about event planning if you want to make this your career.  

But as soon as you hit the internet and started researching, you got bombarded with websites offering "event planning certification."  These websites convince you that you need "certification" in order to land a job or start an event planning business.  They tell you that you need to take their program in order to "become a certified planner."   

So, naturally, you start comparing all of the certifications; until soon you are completely confused, overwhelmed, and ready to give up.  You want to make the right decision and get the right certification that will make the most sense for your career goals, but which one is the best?  And, because of this confusion, you start to question whether any of these online courses are legit at all.  

There are two reasons why you are confused (and rightfully so).  First of all, in event planning, there is a very important distinction between the words "certification" and "certificate."  It sounds like a tiny difference in semantics, but this concept is vitally important if you want to choose the right program for you.  

Certification is an accredited designation that you have proved yourself to be an expert in event planning and that you have the experience to back you up.  In other words, it is a title that a planner earns (via an exam) after years of experience in planning events. Therefore, 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.  

Event planning certification is a designation earned after years of experience; therefore there is no such thing as legitimate "certification" for beginners. 

In the event planning industry, there are only a handful of accredited, legitimate "certifications;" including the CMP, the CMM, and the CSEP (for more info on these, keep reading below).  However, you can't even begin to apply to take these tests unless you have at least 3-7 years of experience (depending on the certification); and some of them require that you're currently employed as a planner.  

So how is a beginner supposed to "get certified?"  That's the don't.

Any program trying to convince you that you can become "certified," as a beginner, simply by taking their course, is either misleading you to make the sale or they just don't understand the industry enough to know any better.  

Either way, is this someone that you want to trust with your time and money?

It's so important to understand that "event planning certification" is not a shortcut to success.  Many beginners are led to believe that if they just take a "certification" course, potential future employers will automatically give them the job, or future clients will immediately trust you.

However, anyone in the industry sees right through these fake certifications, and therefore they are a waste of time and money.  

So the alternative?  take a certificate course

However.... what you can and should do is look into taking a certificate course or program.  

A certificate (not "certification") is a document that proves you've taken a course for the knowledge and for the purpose of learning about event planning; and that you've passed that particular program's requirements for showing that you understand the material.  There is no industry-wide requirements for certificate programs; anyone can create their own standards and requirements for passing.  

However, what this does is show your potential future employers that you took the initiative to learn the basics of planning.  It shows that you take the future of your career seriously enough to enroll in a course and learn about planning events.   It shows future clients that you took a program and passed their particular test or requirements and received their certificate.  

While event planning is not difficult to learn, you do have to learn the basics before starting your career; and taking a certificate course is the quickest, most affordable, and efficient way to do that.  

Therefore, since you are choosing a program for the knowledge that it provides and not for the sole purpose of saying you're "certified," it's important to choose a program based upon your goals for your career.

The Three Main Legitimate Event Planning Certifications

As we've discussed, in the event planning industry, there are many event planning certification programs that are not legitimate certifications; they don'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.  

The main exceptions in the event planning industry are the following three certifications.  These are the main 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 3-7 years of experience in event planning before event attempting to take the test. Therefore, you can't take these event planning certification tests as a beginner; but they are excellent goals to strive for in a few years!  

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.  

Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM)
The CMM is an MBA-level executive education program for meeting professional with more than seven years of experience, including a minimum of three years in management positions. 

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.  

Other Legitimate Certifications
There are a few other certifications that apply to specific industries within event planning; such as catering, hotel management, etc.  However, the CMP, the CMM, and the CSEP are the three 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.

If any online schools promise a "certification," then be aware that  it is merely a certification for that particular website  and it most likely will mean nothing to anyone 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.

Therefore, take a course for the knowledge you will gain from it, and not just for the "certification" you'll get at the end.  

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.
  • Event Planning Schools: This page outlines some of the very few colleges or universities that offer event planning programs or degrees.  
  • Event Planning Classes: If you are planning on going to college but your school doesn't offer an event planning program, what classes should you take and what degree should you pursue?  

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 an "event planning 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.  


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