How Do I Become a Certified Meeting Planner?

Research what it takes to become a certified meeting planner. Learn about education and experience requirements, essential job skills and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Hospitality Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Certified Meeting Planner?

Meeting planners perform a wide range of tasks to ensure an event goes off without a hitch, from locating event spaces to booking support services and managing budgets. A planning project first starts with meeting clients to determine what they are wanting from their meeting and what budget they have to work with. Following this meeting, planners make arrangements with venues, caterers and other meeting and event services. During a meeting event they often over see services to ensure clients and their guest are taken care of. After an event they arrange the payment of the various services they hired. To learn about the requirements for industry-recognized certifications in this field, take a look at the following:

Education/Training Requirements Bachelor's degree and/or 2-3 years of experience; sufficient continuing education
Key Skills Negotiation, customer service and organizational skills
Certification Professional certification is voluntary
Job Growth (2014-2024) 10% (for all meeting, convention and event planners)*
Median Salary (2015) $46,840 (for all meeting, convention and event planners)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Certified Meeting Professional Certification

The CMP credential is intended for professionals in the meeting, event, exhibition and hospitality tourism industries. It was established by the Convention Industry Council (CIC) to create a body of knowledge and standard of performance to maximize the value of meeting professionals (www.conventionindustry.org). In order to obtain the certification, you'll need to pass an examination and meet eligibility requirements.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to qualify for the CMP designation, you'll need to meet industry experience and continuing education/internship requirements. You'll need either three years of experience and recent employment in the field, or a bachelor's degree in a related field, along with two years of professional experience. College instructors with at least three years of industry experience are also eligible to take the exam. The second component of eligibility requires a 200-hour internship in the industry or completion of 25 hours of continuing education within the past five years.

Prepare for the Exam

You'll need several texts in order to prepare for the exam, including the CIC Manual, Accepted Practices Exchange Glossary, Professional Meeting Management and International Association for Exhibition Management Guidelines for Display Rules and Regulations. Additionally, preparatory courses offered by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and Meeting Professionals International are recommended by the CIC (www.pcma.org). The PCMA course offers both online and book study options. Finally, the CIC offers a practice exam to help you understand the structure of the exam.

Maintain Your Credentials

CMPs must recertify on a 5-year cycle. You'll also need to maintain employment in the industry or work as an educator for three of the previous five years. Other requirements include either a bachelor's degree, 25 hours of continuing education or 15 hours of continuing education. If you meet the 15 hour continuing education requirement, you'll also need to prove that you've participated in industry activities during your certification cycle.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Fundraisers do almost the same tasks as meeting planners when organizing events, the largest difference being that a fundraiser's goal is to have an organization come out with a profit at the end of an event. Administrative services managers work with companies' and organizations' budgets when directing and coordinating supportive services within an organization. Food service managers and lodging managers have to operate within a budget while providing a services that will draw more customers and thus more profit.

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