Recently, one of my community members posed this question: “Do I actually need a certification before I can be an event or wedding planner?”
The short answer is: No.
You don’t need to be certified to be an event or wedding planner. Even though it may seem easy to get into the event planning industry and the fact is that you don’t need a certification to get your business started, there are other barriers that you need to tackle.
Hands-on Experience is Required
Getting into the business of event planning means that people are going to trust you with their money and, more importantly, big moments in their lives and careers. Whether you are certified or not, you do need to know what you’re doing before you take on any job commitment.
This means that even without certification, you do still need hands-on experience, and the skills needed to deliver each event successfully and on-time.
The Difference with Corporate Certified Event Planners
Now let’s get into more details. If you plan to work for a corporate planner, you might need to get certified.
As someone who has worked as an in-house corporate event planner, in my experience, companies will be interested to know if you’ve taken part in a certification program; one such as Meeting Planners International certification.
To give you an example, here in Toronto – where I live – when companies are looking for in-house corporate planners, one of the job requirements is that candidates should be a Certified Meeting Professional. If you don’t have one, it’ll be hard for you to compete with candidates who are certified.
Becoming a Certified Event Planner Does Not Equal Clients
If you’re an advocate of formal training and you choose the certification path, then you must be aware of one very important thing: Certification will not bring you clients.
Being a certified event planner doesn’t mean that clients will be lining up to book your services. It is great to be able to show clients proof of your training and education, but what will move the needle in your business is marketing your services to the right audience.
While a large organization might need certification as proof of your commitment and reliability, individual clients won’t put much weight on a “piece of paper”. They already assume that, certified or not, you have the skills and experience needed to offer them the best service, just as you promise.
But just in case you are looking to become certified and evaluating different programs, here are some tips to help you select the best certification program.
Tip #1: Do Your Research
There are so many programs out there that offer a wedding and event planner certification. With the lack of regulation to govern this industry, anyone can offer a certification that is, in reality, good for nothing.
I’ve seen Ads on Facebook promoting a $5 certification program or teaching you how to become a certified event planner for only $25.
Approach with caution.
This is why research is the first thing you should do before signing up for any program. Look around to see what programs are out there and what they’re offering.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t any good programs, some are probably amazing, the key is to ensure they are worth the money.
Download our FREE Course Review Checklist to help with your search.
Tip #2: Read the Reviews
How do you know what each program has to offer and if it will be a good fit? Just like you do with any other product or service that you want to buy: Read the reviews of what others have to say about it.
Let’s say you saw a Facebook ad for an event planning certification program but you don’t have any idea if it’s good. What you need to do is Google the program and company, find their reviews and see what other students have to say about it.
The key here is to not just check the company’s website. Their websites will be filled with hand-picked testimonials that makes their company looks amazing.
That’s why Google is your best friend here. Check out their Google Business Listing, the reviews here are more likely to be factual and will provide you with a more informed view of the quality of their program.
Tip #3: Look at the Curriculum
Before you sign up, have a look at their curriculum.
By now, you’ve shortlisted the programs in which you want to enroll. You made sure other students are saying good stuff about them but are you sure that they will offer you the exact kind of education that you’re looking for?
On any of those programs’ websites, there should be an outline of the courses or modules included in the program. Verify that these will cover the content that you’re looking for. Let’s assume, for example, that you’re looking to improve your event planning skills but when you check their curriculum, you find that it focuses mainly on design, then this is clearly not the course for you. Or if their courses are centered around event planning and design but what you’re interested in is how to improve your business management and operations skills. Then this would mean that you should look into a different certification program.
Once you’ve found a certification program that fits exactly what you need then it’s time to make a decision.
Obtaining a wedding or event planning certification has its merits, but it’s not required to be an event planner, and it will not be the answer to effectively marketing your business to gain clients.
Is it worth it? Any program that will improve your skills and expertise in my book is worth every penny.