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Last year I was lucky enough to go to the summer X Games, a festival which offers live music, extreme sports, athlete autograph sessions, and interactive elements in Los Angeles. While I was there sitting in the stands, surrounded by hundreds of screaming fans, watching Freestyle Motocross bikers soar through the air, I couldn’t help but think how amazing it was that someone was able to actually make this gigantic event happen. And the person that was the glue that held the X Games together, was an event planner– or probably a few. Basically an event planner is someone who organizes an event like a festival, ceremony, competition, convention, or party.
An event planner handles every part of making an event a success. First comes finding the ideal location for the event–it could be a hotel, convention center, reception hall, or outdoor area. Once the location is selected, the coordinator finds the right staff to work the event, or sets clear expectations with the existing staff, selects and reserves the entertainment. Throughout the process, the event planner must keep contact with the client to make sure that expectations are being met so that everything goes smoothly on the day of the event. The event planner is also responsible for addressing additional details like food, drinks, music, guest list, decorations, transportation, and in some cases advertising and marketing (check out this infographic for details about what that entails). The event planner must accomplish all of this while keeping within a specific budget and a timeline that they help set–allocating resources is a key part of the job.
The key for a successful event planner is to be in constant communication. That means spending a lot of time in an office, making phone calls or writing emails to stay in touch with clients and vendors. The morning might be filled with negotiating contracts, discussing the layout of a venue, crunching numbers in a budget, studying a menu to select the best food options, or surfing the web for local DJs. In the afternoon a planner might pick up a printed banner or invitations, email the caterer, and book a limousine. And throughout the day, time will be spent fielding additional requests from clients. Many of the tasks can be administrative, but when you get to see the event come together without a hitch, it’s all worth it.
Pay for an event planner generally falls between $30,000 and $69,000 per year, and the median expected salary is $55,299 per year. In the event planning field, most folks start as Assistant Event Planners or Event Coordinators (the average salary for that role is apparently $44,318, though this seems a bit high to me). The next step up is becoming an Event Planner. If you want to venture further up the ladder, you either work at a larger events firm or start your own events business.
You can obviously be an event planner anywhere events happen, but the best places are usually in cities known for having large events like:
To be a great planner you might want a Bachelor’s Degree in event planning, but the exciting news is that you don’t have to have one. In this industry, determination might be all you need. A good place to start is to get a couple years of experience in the field–perhaps by assisting with catering an event, or helping out with a local concert. As long as you are creative, good at multi-tasking, able to envision the big picture, results oriented, and capable of working within a given budget, you should be able to land a job in event planning.
If event planning still sounds like your cup of tea, here are a few things you should do to get started.
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