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Professional Development Resources for Event Pros

As the industry continues to evolve, moving further and further into the realm of virtual and hybrid events, it’s imperative for event professionals to explore educational opportunities, whether it’s a single course or an extensive multi-week program, in order to deepen their know-how and develop new proficiencies.

In the face of furloughs and layoffs, eventprofs can still excel with the right tools and skill sets. The following resources—from classes to certifications—can help you fill any gaps in your experience, amp up your resume, become more competitive in the job market, transition to a new segment of the industry, earn more money, and more.

First, what’s the difference between a certificate vs. certification

A professional certificate can help you advance in your career, expand your knowledge, and stay competitive within the industry, while professional certification typically involves an exam administered by a third party. One of the more popular examples of professional certifications in the events industry is the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP). These designations exhibit advanced skills and training and denote experience, especially for those who don’t hold an industry-related degree.

Continuing education courses and certificate programs

In addition to undergraduate and graduate degrees in event management (such as the M.S. program at the Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism at New York University), some colleges and universities also offer continuing education courses and certificate programs that allow both novice and seasoned event professionals to hone their skills—or learn new ones. Here are some popular offerings:

George Washington University’s Professional Certificate in Event Management:

This program is a non-degree, non-credit program that provides continuing education units (CEUs). This is a professional certificate, not a certification. While the program is offered on campus, individual core courses may be taken online throughout the year. Students are required to complete four core courses and three elective courses.

The International School of Hospitality (TISOH):

These short-term continuing education and career training programs, which are available online, allow students to specialize in various areas within the industry including catering management, wedding coordination and design, exhibition and trade show management, and more. You can also earn professional development hours towards your CMP certification (more on that later) by completing the event planning courses.

University of North Carolina Charlotte’s Meeting & Event Planning Certificate:

This comprehensive program, which currently only takes place on campus, covers different components of event planning including budgets, contracts, marketing, and sales. Certain classes are also held at event venues throughout Charlotte such as the Park Expo and Conference Center and the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte.

New York Institute of Art and Design’s Online Event Planning Course:

This class is designed for those looking to start a career in event planning and includes support and guidance from an event pro throughout the duration of the course

Indiana University’s Online Undergraduate Certificate in Events Management:

This 19-credit certificate program includes courses in convention and meeting management, special event management, sports events management, meeting planning logistics, convention and meeting sales, exhibit marketing, international meeting planning, and nonprofit meeting management.

Online courses

Programs and classes are also offered through professional associations, by fellow event pros, and even on LinkedIn. Here are some to consider:

Roar Playbook:

Corporate event designer and owner of ROAR events Caryl Lyons currently offers two different courses: An e-course that’s designed for those newer to the industry and wedding planners who want to enter into the corporate side of events and “Market to ROAR,” an eight-week program that teaches new corporate event professionals how to market their services.

Event Leadership Institute (ELI):

This resource provides online education, training, and professional development programs for event and meeting industry professionals. The multi-week courses focus on specific topics, and upon successful completion, which includes passing an exam, participants receive a digital certification credential. Here are some of the Institute’s most popular and newest offerings:

Virtual Event & Meeting Management Program:

Offered in partnership with Meeting Professionals International (MPI), this six-week program is designed for industry professionals who are looking to build on their existing event management skill set and learn the fundamentals of planning and managing virtual events. It includes weekly live Q&A meetings, a peer-based community forum, and a work-at-your-own pace schedule.

Pandemic Meeting & Event Design Certificate:

Also offered in partnership with MPI, this timely six-week course provides insights into how to rethink event strategy, design, execution, and evaluation for modified in-person events. From risk management to venue protocols; contract clauses to user experience; food and beverage to marketing, the course covers the areas most impacted by the pandemic to help you develop and design future-forward events.

Virtual Fundraising Event Management Certificate:

In partnership with MPI, this four-week course teaches non-profit organizations how to successfully transition live fundraising events to virtual.

Technical Meeting & Event Production Certificate:

Do you know how many lumens your projector should be? Or whether your lighting vendor is correct in using PAR fixtures instead of Lekos to light the podium? If your audiovisual proposal looks like gibberish, this five-week course, designed for meeting and event professionals, is for you. It provides the knowledge to understand the gear, staff, and set-up your event needs to function properly, look right, and be cost effective.

Event & Meeting Management Fundamentals Certificate:

Receive a thorough understanding of how events work, why people and companies host events, how the industry is configured, and how to strategically plan and coordinate a typical event from A to Z.

Business Owner Mentorship Program:

Offered in partnership with McVeigh Global Meetings and Events, this free program connects volunteer mentors with event agency owners and other event industry business professionals who have been impacted by the pandemic to provide coaching and consulting support. Once matched, mentors will offer roughly two hours of consulting/coaching support to their mentees.

Million Dollar Event Planning Career:

Created by the Head of Events at Airtable, and former marketing head of events at Google, Amazon Web Services and SoftBank Vision Fund, Gianna Gaudini, this course offers a comprehensive fresh take on everything one could want to up their event planning game. It features 50 modules, 30 exercises and 10 downloads for event pros of all levels with insightful new information pertaining to virtual, hybrid and engaging event formats that is highly relevant for navigating the ever-changing event environment. For a limited time, you can use the special VIP code: VENDRY30 at checkout to receive 30% off!

LinkedIn Learning’s Marketing Virtual Events:

This course teaches you how to market and promote a virtual event by utilizing videos and social media content, as well as running effective email and social media marketing campaigns.

The Zoo:

These downloadable courses range from basic tips and templates for those new to the events industry to more intensive event management programs.

EventPreneur Club:

A community where business owners are able to collaborate and support each other through experience sharing. The Club’s programming and courses center around three pillars: Build, Market & Grow. There are three membership levels (free, monthly, and yearly), with each offering access to the monthly masterclasses; paid memberships include access to recorded masterclasses, a full course library, blueprints, and other perks

Certifications

As discussed above, certifications are recognized credentials that demonstrate knowledge and experience in your field. The most recognizable certification in the meetings and events industry is the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), which is administered by the Events Industry Council (EIC). You will need 36 months of full-time employment in the industry as well as 25 “clock hours” of continuing education to qualify for the certification. For example, the Pandemic Meeting & Event Design Certificate, offered by MPI and ELI, counts as 20 hours. Plus, you need to pass the CMP exam in order to earn the certification.

Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP):

This designation, from the International Live Events Association (ILEA), requires a minimum of three years of full-time professional employment in the live events industry and a 1- to 2-year certificate/diploma from a recognized hospitality/events industry program in order to be eligible to take the exam. You are also required to recertify every five years.

Digital Event Strategist (DES):

The five-week certification, offered by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), teaches participants how to plan, produce, and measure digital events, monetize digital events through fresh pricing and sponsorship strategies, and evaluate and choose the most sophisticated tech solutions.

Other popular event planning certifications include the Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE) from the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE); Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) from the American Marketing Association; and Certification in Meeting Management (CMP) by MPI.

And perhaps the newest addition, the VEI certification program from the Virtual Events Institute is designed to teach the skills and knowledge needed to excel at planning and executing virtual events. Candidates who have completed all the modules will be able to use the official Virtual Events Institute Certification badge.

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