How to Become An Event Planner in 6 Simple Steps (Skills + Salaries)

An Event Planner adjusts place settings at an extravagant wedding with lots of florals in the forefront and background.

quick answer

To become an Event Planner, formal education in the form of a hospitality or business course or program is a good start. Hands-on experience is also key to building your portfolio and skills. Additional certifications can enhance your resume and help you land a job.

Are you someone who loves bringing people together and event planning? If you always find yourself hosting gatherings at your house or organizing events just for fun, consider starting a career as an Event Planner. 

The next three years present a great window to launch your event planning career in Canada, with job prospects ranging from moderate to good over the next three years in most Canadian provinces, according to the Government of Canada.

Becoming an Event Planner includes completing relevant courses or training, developing key skills, and building your portfolio.

Continue reading to discover event planning education requirements, key event planning skills you should have, what an Event Planner’s salary looks like, and more. 

1. Complete Event Planning Courses

When it comes to becoming an Event Planner in Canada, qualifications and training can vary depending on the type of event planning you want to pursue. 

While you may be able to begin your career as an Event Planner without any formal education or training, it may limit your chances at career growth in the future. Some sort of post-secondary education will be beneficial.

A few common options include:

  • Business Administration Diploma Program: A Business Diploma program focused on event planning and hospitality is the best way to put yourself ahead of the competition when looking for event planning jobs. For example, Robertson College offers a Business Administration—Event Planning and Hospitality Online Diploma Program. Students in this program will acquire general administrative and business knowledge focusing on event and hospitality management. 
  • Relevant Degree: Many Event Planners have public relations, communications, or business degrees,as many aspects of these fields carry over into event planning.

Regardless of which Diploma program you choose, equip yourself with the resources and education you need to find a job after graduation. At Robertson, our Workforce Team supports students and graduates with resume and cover letter development, job search guidance, and interview preparation.

Event Planner Certifications

An Event Planner Certification can give you a competitive edge in the job market by demonstrating your expertise and commitment to the profession. It can also boost earning potential and open doors to new opportunities or industries. 

Here are some relevant event planning certifications you may consider pursuing:

  • Certified Meeting Professional (CMP): This is a well-rounded certification ideal for those managing conferences, conventions, and tradeshows. It helps demonstrate expertise in the planning and execution of face-to-face meetings.
  • Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP): This validates knowledge for special events like galas, festivals, and product launches. 
  • Digital Event Strategist (DES): As more events move online, this focuses on planning virtual or hybrid events that leverage technology. 
  • Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM): This Certification is geared toward those who manage trade shows and exhibitions. It covers the intricacies of booth design, lead generation, and tradeshow logistics. 
  • Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE): This is ideal for those who specialize in event catering operations. It dives into menu planning, food safety, and beverage service.

Graphic illustrating steps on how to become an event planner.

2. Decide on a Speciality

The options are endless regarding the types of events you can plan. Below, we’ve highlighted some great event planning career options.

  • Event Planner: Event Planners handle anything from large-scale events like huge trade shows to smaller events like meetings or work conferences. You’ll be the one people come to for help. This role is perfect for confident multi-taskers.
  • Wedding Planner: When the bride and groom don’t want to deal with the stress of planning a wedding, they turn to a Wedding Planner. As a Wedding Planner, you know everything there is to know about the wedding industry, especially in your city. You’ll help your clients make decisions that align with the decided budget.
  • Venue Manager: Venue Managers are experts in their own spaces, such as a concert hall, a ballroom, or a sports arena. They know their space’s layout, logistics, and ins and outs. They sometimes act as Event Planners, but they typically help the Event Planner in charge of the specific event.
  • Catering Manager: Whether you are feeding 10 people in a meeting or hundreds of people at a conference, your job as the catering manager is critical. Many Catering Managers have experience with food preparation and event planning.
  • Social Media Event Manager: Social media can help you upskill in event planning. This role helps promote events on social media leading up to the event and also during it. Social Media Event Managersdevelop unique hashtags, intriguing copy, and digital ad campaigns.
  • Conference Event Planner: This type of Event Planner is the mastermind behind large-scale conferences. They secure a venue, invite speakers, manage the budget, and ensure a seamless registration process for attendees.
  • Meeting Planner: Meeting Planners organize large events for businesses or organizations. They help set objectives, navigate multiple attendees’ schedules to find a time that works for everyone, find a venue to host the meeting, and more. 

3. Develop Skills + Learn Event-Planning Tools

Event Planners thrive on a blend of hard and soft skills. Honing your organizational skills, budgeting abilities, and technical knowledge (like mastering specific software) is crucial. 

Additionally, soft skills like communication, creativity, and building rapport with clients and vendors are equally important. 

To truly excel, many Event Planners rely on tools like:

  • Event platforms (Event Smart, Hopin, Eventbrite, Event Espresso)
  • Project management tools (Monday, Asana, Trello)
  • Accounting software (Quickbooks)
  • Communication channels (Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams)
  • Graphic design tools (Canva)
  • Email marketing platforms (Mailchimp)
  • Web analytics tools (Google Analytics)
  • Survey tools (SurveyMonkey)

4. Gain Industry Experience

Real-life experience, in addition to education, can also put you ahead. Consider the following opportunities:

  • Work experience: Gaining work experience through a work placement or internship is a great way to gain event planning training. The great thing about Robertson’s Diploma program — or any college Diploma program — is that you will take part in a compulsory four-week full-time work practicum where you can work alongside industry professionals. 
  • Volunteer experience: Consider volunteering at college or other volunteer events, taking on an internship, or shadowing an Event Planner. All of this experience will help you take on more responsibility in the future. 

5. Create a Portfolio and Polish Your Resume

Your event portfolio and professional resume are the cornerstones of landing your dream job as an Event Planner. They should work together to showcase your skills and experience in a captivating way. Here’s how to achieve that.

For your resume:

  • Determine the most appropriate resume format.
  • Highlight your relevant event planning education, skills, and certifications.
  • Tailor the content to the specific type of event planning you’re targeting (emphasize budgeting and logistics for corporate events or showcase creativity and vendor management for weddings)
  • Quantify your achievements whenever possible, such as mentions of increased attendance numbers.

For your portfolio: 

  • Determine your format, either a visually engaging online platform or a physical booklet (if applying to jobs or meeting with clients in person).
  • Include high-quality photos, videos, and testimonials that showcase the scope and success of your projects. 
  • For each event, include a brief description outlining your specific role, challenges overcome, and the event’s overall impact. This allows potential clients to envision you leading their event.

6. Network With Event Professionals

The great thing about a workplace experience program is that through a work practicum, you’ll get event planning training and will meet and network with industry professionals. 

This is a great opportunity to meet people and figure out what type of events you want to work in after graduation and help answer questions like: 

  • Do you want to work for an event company?
  • Do you want to freelance? 
  • Do you want to work specifically in weddings? 

Some additional tips for networking with Event Planner professionals include: 

  • Attend industry events: Search for industry conferences online or through professional organizations. This can be a great way to meet Event Planners from different backgrounds and specialties.
  • Make social media connections: LinkedIn is a great platform for connecting with event professionals and learning about their work. You can also join event planning groups on social media. 

Graphic illustrating what an event planner does.

What Does An Event Planner Do?

Event Planners are responsible for coordinating details before, during, and after an event. They have an ever-growing to-do list and are continuously checking things off while more tasks are added to the list as they go. 

Event Planners are the go-to person when it comes to every aspect of the event. They’re the ones who plan the event from the bottom up, coordinate all moving parts, and ensure that the event succeeds. 

It’s their job to make sure that everything on the outside goes as smoothly as possible. This includes choosing great locations, hiring perfect vendors, and arranging any other details. 

Many businesses and organizations often strongly rely on Event Planners to coordinate and plan conventions, meetings, trade shows, and parties. Event Planners negotiate vendor contracts, scout venues, meet with event stakeholders to understand the event’s purpose, and coordinate event logistics.

Some Event Planners specialize in specific kinds of events like concerts, festivals, meetings, conventions, trade shows, or weddings.

Event Planner Duties 

Event Planners wear many hats. They orchestrate the entire event experience, from conception to execution. Their duties encompass a wide range, including: 

  • Client collaboration: Event Planners begin by clearly understanding the client’s vision, needs, and goals. 
  • Financial management: Developing and managing budgets to ensure cost-effective planning is a core responsibility of the job.
  • Vendor sourcing and management: Event Planners don’t work alone! They act as the bridge, coordinating with and selecting qualified vendors like caterers and decorators. 
  • Event design and logistics: Event Planners take the lead, crafting a comprehensive plan encompassing themes, layout, schedules, venue selection, and logistics like transportation, accommodation, and equipment rentals.
  • Event execution and oversight: On the big day, Event Planners oversee all aspects of the event to make sure everything runs according to plan. This includes troubleshooting any unexpected issues and making real-time adjustments. 
  • Attendee management: Event Planners handle registrations, ticket sales, and attendee information to ensure a smooth check-in process and organized guest experience.
  • Post-event evaluation: After the event, Event Planners gather feedback through surveys or reports to evaluate the event’s success and provide insights for future planning. 

Key Event Planning Skills You Need

When considering a career in event planning, a mix of soft and hard skills is necessary. Some necessary hard skills include: 

  • Budgeting and finance knowledge: You need the ability to create, manage, and track event budgets, including revenue, expenses, and profitability.
  • Project management: Tasks like scheduling, delegating, and ensuring projects stay on track are a big part of the day-to-day work.
  • Technology and software: Proficiency in event management, graphic design tools, email marketing platforms, and web analytics tools is essential.
  • Contract negotiation: The ability to negotiate contracts with vendors and venues to ensure the best terms for the event is vital.
  • Logistics and operations: You must be an expert in coordinating logistics like transportation, catering, audio/visual equipment, and venue setup.

Soft skills of an Event Planner include: 

  • Communication skills: You must have strong listening and writing skills. You have to be able to communicate with attendees, volunteers, staff, and vendors to ensure everyone is on the same page, manage expectations, and effectively address any questions or concerns. 
  • Attention to detail: You have to be able to notice and be on top of every little detail—everything from the color of the tablecloths to the font on the invitations. You are the person that people will look to for a detailed eye.
  • Coordination: You must be able to work alongside many people with different types of personalities and work habits. This includes delegating tasks to volunteers or other staff members on your team.
  • Problem-solving: You must be adaptable. As an Event Planner, things may very well go wrong. You must be able to think on your feet and not let one small error ruin the whole event.
  • Interpersonal skills: This one may be obvious, but you must maintain positive relationships with vendors and guests. Having and keeping a good relationship with your vendors will make planning future events much easier.

To determine if your greatest strengths are a good fit for the soft skills required to be an Event Planner, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you a creative problem solver?
  • Are you a good multi-tasker?
  • Are you highly organized?
  • Are you detail-oriented?
  • Are you an active and attentive listener?
  • Can you stick to a budget?
  • Do you react well to unexpected last-minute changes?
  • Do you stay calm and focused under pressure?

Graphic listing hard and soft skills Event Planners should have.

Event Planner Salary

The average Event Planner salary is $26.44 per hour or $54,995 per year. While that’s the median salary, more experienced workers can earn $43.27 per hour or $85,502 per year. An Event Planner’s salary can vary depending on:

  • Location
  • Years of experience
  • Whether they’re working for a company or themselves
  • Type of event planning

Location Low ($/hour) Median ($/hour) High ($/hour)
Yukon $17.06 $28.77 $45/21
British Columbia $18 $28.68 $43.50
Alberta $19 $27 $49.45
Manitoba $15.50 $23.56 $34.62
Ontario $16.55 $25.50 $44.10
Quebec $20 $27 $38.46
New Brunswick $14.75 $24.53 $28.15
Nova Scotia $17.01 $25 $29.67
Prince Edward Island $16.61 $23.57 $37.99
Newfoundland and Labrador $15.08 $24.29 $33.17
*No data available for Nunavut, Northwest Territories, or Saskatchewan
Data from the Government of Canada

Charging an Hourly Rate

  • If you’re charging an hourly rate for your events, research what other Event Planners in your area are charging. 
  • Consider your experience and the type of work you will be doing. 
  • Pro tip: A common rate for a new Event Planner is$25/hour and can go up to $100/hour for experienced event planners with large portfolios.

Charging a Flat Rate

  • Charging a flat rate is also very common and typically the preferred payment method for Event Planners. When you decide on a flat fee, there are no surprises to you and your client. Discuss the flat fee openly and honestly with your client and come to a decision together. 
  • A standard vendor commission percentage fee is around 10-15%. For example, if a catering company is charging $3,000 for an event, you would charge them around $300-$500 for locating, coordinating, and securing that vendor.

To make sure you’re financially secure, ask for a 50% deposit immediately, and ask for the remaining 50% two weeks out.

FAQ

Still not sure if event planning is the right career for you? Here are answers to the most common Event Planner questions.

How Can You Become An Event Planner With No Experience?

To become an event planner without experience, start by building your knowledge with courses or certifications. Then, gain practical experience by volunteering at events or assisting established planners. Networking with industry professionals and showcasing your talents with a portfolio can also help launch your career.

How Much Does an Event Planner Earn Per Year or Per Event?

How much an Event Planner earns per year depends on the type of event planning they do, location, and experience. On average, an Event Planner earns $54,995 per year, while more experienced workers make up to $85,502 per year. The amount an Event Planner makes for an event can vary every time. 

Is Event Management in High Demand?

Between 2022 and 2031, the event planning field is projected to see roughly 12,000 new job openings due to growth and replacement needs. However, an estimated 13,000 new job seekers will enter the market during this time.

Whether it’s a music festival or a wedding, Event Planners will always be an in-demand job to help people facilitate what they can’t for events. But, since there’s a job surplus, standing out from the competition by completing career-specific programs or certifications is crucial.

What Degree Is Best For Event Planning?

The best Degrees for event planning include hospitality, business administration, or public relations. These degrees provide valuable budgeting, communication, and organization skills, all essential for planner success.

Start Your Career in Event Management With Robertson

Becoming an Event Planner in Canada is a great career choice for those who want to work in the hospitality industry in a fast-paced environment. If you’re interested in learning more, Robertson’s Event Planning and Hospitality Diploma Program is a great option for students who want to complete their education online or at one of Robertson’s Calgary or Edmonton campuses. 

As a part of Robertson’s School of Business, the program equips students with the necessary tools, skills, and knowledge to successfully evaluate, organize, design, and execute different events to serve corporate and individual needs. 

Connect with a Student’s Admissions Advisor for more information.

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