What do televised awards shows, industry conferences, weddings, trade shows, networking events, regional meetings and business seminars have in common? All require the skills of event managers to make them happen. Whether it’s working for a bride-to-be or a big corporation, event managers apply their organizational, financial and interpersonal skills to produce events that are appropriate to the occasion and audience, while seeking to exceed everyone’s expectations.
Event Manager Job Description, Salary and Education Requirements
Event managers, also known as event planners, are responsible for coordinating all aspects of an event, from the beginning planning stages to day-of activities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), event managers earned median salaries of $46,260 in May 2013. The lowest 10% of earners were paid $26,480, while the highest 10% earned more than $79,550 yearly. Salaries vary according to employers, regional job markets, individual education and work experience. Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research to determine actual salary potential.
A growing proportion of employers are seeking event managers with a bachelor’s degree, the BLS said. Majors can include business administration, marketing, hospitality or communications and many employers prefer to see a business-focused skill set such as coursework in finance, accounting, marketing and management. Some employers also require experience in the field, which in addition to time on the job can be acquired through volunteer work or internships.
The BLS predicts a strong demand for event planners through 2022, with job growth projected at 33%. Despite a growing use of online communication, many companies and industries prefer the face-to-face interaction of conferences and conventions. Also, the spread of international business should increase the value of conventions and meetings, the BLS said.
Most work for private companies, but about 17% are self-employed.
What do Event Managers Do?
Event manager job duties will vary, depending on the employer, industry niche and specific event. But in general, these professionals may be asked to perform a number of diverse tasks in a fast-paced environment, including:
- Meet with clients to determine needs, desires and budgets
- Coordinate event details
- Develop and manage budgets
- Maintain a planning calendar
- Act as the main point of contact for the event
- Procure sponsors
- Secure permits and insurance as needed
- Research venues, negotiate terms and contract details with the final choice
- Promote the event as appropriate
- Order and send invitations, manage guest lists and seating arrangements
- Arrange event activities, which may include keynote addresses, breakout sessions, executive retreats and team-building activities
- Hire and train staff for pre-event duties, post-event and work during the event
- Hire and manage vendors to supply food, drinks, supplies, decor, flowers or music as needed
- Manage event space setup and tear-down
- Pay vendors
Clearly, event managers have a long list of responsibilities to ensure the occasion goes off without a hitch. But this challenging and exciting job can be a great fit for someone with the right knowledge and skill set.
Skills and Attributes of Event Managers
Every successful event requires careful planning and budgeting, clear communication and strong business management. Therefore, it’s important that individuals on the event management career track develop the following skills:
- Communication: excellent verbal and written communication skills are extremely important for event managers.
- Critical thinking: the ability to think through challenging situations and develop solutions to problems will prove valuable in this field.
- Negotiation: a big part of event management is negotiating contracts within budgets and saving the client money.
- Customer service: event managers must develop good relationships with clients, while meeting their needs and keeping them happy.
- Organizational: many events require months or years of planning, with numerous details and intricate timing. Multitasking, overseeing budgets and meeting deadlines are part of the job.
In addition to these basic skills, successful event managers usually possess attributes such as flexibility, composure, ability to think on their feet and to work under pressure as well as being able to collaborate on tasks and responsibilities.
Some essential skills may come naturally. But to become the planner of choice for clients in the region or area of specialty, planners should also develop sales acumen, starting with building a strong network (both online and in person) of clients and prospects. Event managers know that the best leads come from being social, making meaningful connections and maintaining relationships, all of which go far toward boosting a long-term career.
Is an Event Management the Right Career?
For someone who loves entertaining or just seeing people enjoy themselves, achieving goals, learning new things, or being honored for their contributions, then event management could be a viable career. The first step is to assess current skills and qualifications. Then, determine those that need to be developed through education.