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A Complete Guide on How to Become a Party Planner

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Do you consider yourself the “life of the party?”

Do you have a knack for organization and hitting deadlines?

If so, you may want to consider a side-hustle as a party or event planner.

Not only would doing so allow you to earn extra income, but you’d have a role that fits you perfectly.

And there’s no better time to get into the industry.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the expected job growth for meeting and event planners between 2016 and 2026 is 11%, higher than average.

Curious about how to become a party planner?

Our how-to guide will help get you started.

What is a Party Planner?

Party planners are those who create, organize, and deliver special events.

The types of events that party planners can coordinate are quite broad but tend to include:

  • Birthday parties
  • Corporate events
  • Weddings
  • Anniversaries
  • Bar and bat mitzvahs
  • Quinceañeras

One of the unique challenges of event planning is that you often need to find a way to make things work while also meeting customer requests.

For instance, you will need to meet a customer’s needs and budget.

Figuring out this puzzle is often one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

The first step of planning events typically involves meeting the customer to learn about the type of event they’d like to host and how much they want to spend.

Planners may make suggestions about what will work and what won’t work.

After this initial meeting, planners will begin setting up the event.

They’ll find or visit the site of the party, where they’ll measure the space and view the floor plan to get an idea of how the party will come together.

Once the venue is secure, party planners will start to coordinate the finer details of the process.

This can include everything from booking caterers to sending invitations and coordinating travel for attendees.

On the day of the event, you’ll likely be at the party to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch and that you run a successful event.

You’ll help deal with any issues that arise during the party so your clients can have the best time possible without having to worry.

Once the event is over, you’ll also help supervise the cleanup.

Does an event planning job still sound enticing?

Fortunately, there are not many technical requirements associated with planning parties.

What Skills and Training Do Party Planners Need?

The event management industry is rife with opportunity, but you don’t typically need certifications or technical prowess to start your career.

There are rarely educational requirements associated with working in event planning.

A few exceptions include working in hospitality management or for a casino.

These types of jobs tend to prefer at least a high school diploma.

But you shouldn’t need a bachelor’s degree to work as an event planner, which can make the industry quite attractive.

You may find it beneficial to gain experience in a couple of industries before opening your planning business.

Skills that could come in handy during event design include:

  • Entertainment
  • Artistic design
  • Public relations

Those who are successful in the event planning industry have creativity and imagination along with a knack for getting people excited by their vision of the event.

Party planners need to have strong communication skills and be able to work with anyone.

You’ll also need to be incredibly organized and have a sharp eye for detail.

And don’t forget — because you’ll be running your own business, you’ll have to understand basic business skills like financial management and leadership.

You may want to earn a certificate to help bolster your resume.

For instance, you can pursue the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential offered by the Convention Industry Council.

Achieving this accreditation will set you apart as a leader in the industry.

After you have 10 years of experience, you can work toward becoming a Certified Meeting Manager.

These credentials can help make you more desirable to prospective clients.

How Much Can Party Planners Make?

Another perk of working as an event coordinator is that you run your own business.

This means that you can set your own rates and take on as much or as little work as you’d like.

The average rate in the events industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $49,370 per year for full-time workers.

This breaks down to $23.74 per hour.

Pros and Cons of Party Planning

There are a few noticeable pros and cons that come with working as an event planner.

We’ve highlighted a lot of the advantages already.

You can set your own rates and have some say over your working hours.

For instance, if you have an event scheduled in six months, you can work at a time that’s convenient for you to do things like book caterers and plan decor as long as the work gets done on time.

But there are a few downsides that come with event planning.

You’ll want to consider these before deciding whether opening an event planning company is the right career path for you.

First and foremost, you may need to work long hours, especially come crunch time.

Because you need to be at the event, you may find yourself working nights, weekends, and even holidays.

The work can also be stressful at times.

Seeing an event come together if fulfilling, but you’ll deal with your fair share of frustrating vendors and difficult people.

Lastly, there may be a lot of travel involved with working in the industry.

This could be a perk to some people and a detraction for others.

But you will have a bit of say over this because you control where you want to work.

So if travel isn’t really your thing, you can work closer to home.

However, doing so could shrink your client pool.

How to Become a Party Planner

How to Become a Party Planner: balloons
Ready to learn how to become a party planner?

The following steps serve as an excellent starting point.

1. Figure Out Which Industry You Want to Work In

Although it’s possible to plan different types of events, you may find yourself more successful if you pick one or two specialties to focus on.

For instance, you may be more successful as a wedding planner if you focus only on weddings, instead of spreading yourself thin across different types of events.

2. Earn Your Certification

Before becoming a professional event planner, you’ll want to attend a certification program.

As mentioned above, doing so will boost your standing and credibility.

You should gain certification in the industry in which you’d like to work.

Examples of certification programs to consider include:

  • Meeting Professionals International (MPI)
  • International Special Events Society (ISES)
  • Society of Government Meeting Professionals
  • Convention Industry Council (CIC)
  • Association of Bridal Consultants

Completing coursework for a certification will help put you in a better position for success.

Not only do you get a boost to your resume, but you’ll also learn additional tricks and tools of the trade.

3. Gain Experience

Once you’ve achieved your certification, you’ll need to gain work experience.

Decide whether you’d like to work for a management company or open your own small business.

Working for yourself may seem fun, but you may not have the flexibility to work part-time as you’re starting out on your own.

If you decide to work for yourself, planning an event for friends or family could be an excellent way to start building your portfolio.

4. Start Building Your Portfolio

Once you get to this step, you’re ready to start building your event management portfolio.

We recommend starting small.

If you bite off more than you can chew, you’ll find yourself frustrated and potentially in over your head with unhappy clients.

Start with a small event, such as a corporate happy hour.

Focus on doing the best job possible for that event.

As you grow more comfortable in the industry, you can start taking on larger roles.

5. Never Stop Growing

The event planning industry is fluid.

Design trends are always changing.

You should work to continually develop your skills.

If you plateau or stagnate, your competitors will leave you in the dust.

To gain additional industry experience, you can attend trade shows, conferences, and training webinars.

Continuing to develop your skills will keep your clients happy.

Is Party Planning Right For You?

wine glasses raised for toast
If you’re looking to earn a bit of extra income, then you may want to consider learning how to become a party planner.

Working as a party planner can be fulfilling and even fun, especially as you see a successful event come to fruition.

Like any job, you’ll need to put in some hard work to carve out your new career.

But if you’re willing to do so, you will find that a career in event planning is worthwhile.

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