If you ask twenty professional event planners what education and experience they had before launching their event planning career, you will get twenty completely different answers. There isn’t any required certification or license to become a wedding or event planner in the United States except for a business license if you own your business. For some planners who have had professional careers in other industries, the vast array of previous career and business experience may be enough to launch a planning business. Other planners prefer to have formal education, certification, and experience before starting a career in event planning.
For anyone considering an event planning career, education in event planning, business, sales, catering and hospitality management will definitely help. Many local community colleges offer these types of classes that will help you learn the skills needed to become a wedding planner. There are also many places online that offer similar courses. Both online and local college courses will help add to your resume, give you some of the skills you need, impress potential employers and enable you to do a great job for clients. Having a certification or education also shows you are serious about the industry and about advancing your career in events. We recommend that you explore the areas of the events industry you are interested in (weddings, social, corporate, meetings, conferences, etc) then ask local event planners for recommendations before enrolling in any courses.
Besides taking online certification classes or local college courses, it will be extremely beneficial for you to intern, find a mentor or pay for a career consulting session with an experienced event planner. This will help you understand what it is really like to be a wedding planner before investing a large amount of money and time on college classes and wedding planner training. You can also check out our Day in the Life series to get an idea of what a typical day is like for event planners.
Another way to educate yourself is to take classes or get experience in floral design, color theory, interior design, cake decorating, and food-wine pairing. It will also be helpful to join an industry organization such as ABC, ISES or NACE. Most bigger metropolitan areas have local networking groups that are invaluable for a new event planner.
There are multiple wedding and event industry conferences across the country that are very helpful in learning the skills needed to become an event planner. Check out our Conferences + Events page for a list of educational conferences for wedding and event planners.
While it is not absolutely required to go to school in order to become a wedding or event planner, there are major benefits if you educate yourself as much as possible. Not only will you be successful much quicker, you will avoid costly mistakes and have an easier time getting hired or starting your own business. Every successful planner has taken a different path to get where they are today. Take time to think about and research the best path for your future event planning career.