Do you need a certification to be an Event Planner?

The short answer is no. You do not need a certification to become an event planner, however, it is probably in your best interest to obtain a certification where possible.

An event planning certification will help you to achieve three (3) things:

  1. Show that you’ve completed an industry approved training program.
  2. Give you an advantage in the job market to potential employers.
  3. Demonstrate your expertise and credibility to potential business clients.

How do you become a Certified Event Planner?

There are five (5) industry-recognized certification programs available to event planners and they are as follows:

Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)

If you love planning meetings than look no further! The CMP designation from The Events Industry Council has been around since 1985 and some would argue it is the most recognized in the industry. It covers 9 domain areas that include; Stakeholder Management, Strategic Planning, Human Resources, Project Management, Risk Management, Financial management, Event Design, Site Management, Marketing, and Professionalism. There are over 11,000 CMPs in over 55 countries and growing! With this certification, you will learn industry best practices and understand the commonly used language amongst planners. It is a must-have for anyone interested in the meeting and event planning profession! You must have 3 years’ experience and it is a 165 multiple choice exam.

You can also find lots of CMP Meeting Exam Prep Courses in-person or online.

Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP)

The CSEP designation from the International Live Events Association (ILEA) is a 4-hour part multiple-choice, part short answer exam that has limited study materials. The designation recognizes industry professionals that have experience in live special events. It covers similar areas to the CMP but with more of a focus from the supplier side. It allows planners to demonstrate that they have the experience and knowledge in large special events, that include things like volunteer management, risk management, audio-visual and of course, event design!

Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM)

Organized by Meetings Professionals International (MPI) this designation is for seasoned vets. It is an executive-level program that takes place over four days and followed up with 8 weeks of asynchronous training. You need 7 years of professional experience and at least 3 of management experience to enroll in the program. This program will take you to the next level by demonstrating that you are a strategic thinker and a leader in the industry.

Certification in Exhibition Management (CEM)

The CEM is organized by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and is for anyone that specializes in Exhibition management. Created in 1975 this designation is globally recognized for those in the exhibition world. It is 9 courses offered both online and in-class and students must have at least 3 years of experience. Each course has an exam at the end of the program that must be completed within 90 days. There are over 3000 CEMs worldwide!

Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP)

According to Event Planner Certification, The Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP) is designed for planners and suppliers whose work is governed by the rules and regulations of the federal government. Individuals who have earned their CGMP have obtained the highest designation available that is specifically for government meeting professionals.

Governed by the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP), the CGMP is recognized in the hospitality industry; many government contracts now require planners working under contract to have their government certification. In order to take the Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP) class and exam, you must be a current member of SGMP for at least 6 months.

About the Author: Edward Byers operates the website Meeting Protocol. He has more than 15 years’ experience working in corporate and special events, including two Olympic Games, the Special Olympics, incentives and not-for-profits. He has raised more than $2 million through sponsorship and creating new revenue-generating programs. He offers examination preparation for students studying for their CMP designation.