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Event Planner: Portable Career Option for Military Spouses

Military spouses may face regular relocations and must often place their career second to supporting their family and the demands of their husband’s or wife’s military service. As a result, it can be difficult for military spouses to find work when it comes time to do so – the unemployment rate for military spouses was 26% in December 2011, the U.S. Department of Defense reported.

For military spouses looking for a career that is portable and offers strong employment growth, event planning could be an appealing option.

Event planners handle all aspects of planning and coordinating special occasions, whether it’s a wedding, graduation or industry convention. Typically, they start by meeting with a client to understand the nature of the event and to gather details, such as dates, anticipated number of guests, potential locations and budgets. Clients may also furnish information on particular elements they’re requesting, such as décor, invitations, professional photography and menus.

After obtaining these details, event planners contact locations and vendors for pricing and bids. They may also assist with guest arrangements, including transportation, lodging and entertainment.

During the event, planners work to ensure the activities run smoothly, handling any issues that arise. Afterward, they may help clients with vendor billing and payments.

Job Outlook and Salary Range for Event Planners

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates that employment of event planners will increase by 10% nationally between 2014 and 2024, more than the average job growth rate of 7% for all occupations.

According to the BLS, the increasing globalization of business will create a need for face-to-face gatherings, fueling the demand for event planners. Employment prospects should be better for candidates with a bachelor’s degree and related work experience, as well as for those with knowledge of social media and virtual meeting software.

In 2015, the average annual salary for event planners was about $51,200, with the top 10% earning more than $82,050, the BLS reported.

Regional market conditions, and a candidate’s experience and educational qualifications are factors in determining job opportunities and potential salary.

Education and Training for Event Planners

The growing complexity of the profession and the increasing availability of related degree programs mean that a larger percentage of event planners now have a bachelor’s degree compared with years past. The degree could be in hospitality management, business, marketing or public relations.

For military spouses juggling a multitude of responsibilities, earning a degree 100% online from a regionally accredited college may be a convenient and flexible option.

In addition to formal educational qualifications, event planners should have a high degree of organizational ability, excellent communication skills and a willingness to work under deadlines. They must also be able to maintain their composure during stressful situations.

Planners typically work under the direction of an experienced staff member, gaining experience handling logistics and guest-related duties, before taking on larger clients and events, the BLS reports.

Professional certification can be an important factor in career advancement. Among the organizations that offer certification programs are the International Special Events Society, the Convention Industry Council and the Society of Government Meeting Professionals.

Resources for Military Spouses

A variety of financial and educational resources are available to military spouses. For example, the Post-9/11 GI Bill® allows eligible servicemembers to transfer unused education benefits to a spouse.

For job seekers, the Department of Defense’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership provides help with resume and cover letter writing, and other employment preparedness tips, as well as recruitment assistance by connecting military spouses with private employers.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

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