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12 Essential Certifications for Event Planners to Achieve Excellence

12 Essential Certifications for Event Planners to Achieve Excellence

May 29, 2024 Praggya Joshi

Professional certifications for event planners do more than provide a solid foundation in the field; they offer valuable exposure to the dynamic world of event planning and insights from prominent industry experts. This is why a significant number of professionals pursue certification courses to gain specialized knowledge and advance their careers. 

Today, numerous programs can help you gain credibility in various aspects of event planning, including meetings, digital events, event analysis, special events, and event promotion. These courses are designed to kickstart the careers of budding planners, support career changers, and help seasoned professionals strengthen their expertise and achieve recognition as leaders in the industry.

Top Certifications for Event Planners in 2024

1. CMP: Certified Meeting Professional
According to the Convention Industry Council (CIC), the CMP program aims to standardize best practices and enhance the performance of event professionals. This certification is essential for event planners in the US. The course covers various CMP-International Standards domains, including strategic planning, event design, site management, and marketing.

How to Get CMP Certified:
To qualify for the CMP exam, you need to meet one of the following criteria: 

  • 36 months of full-time experience in a relevant hospitality industry. 
  • 24 months of experience plus an industry-related associate degree. 
  • 36 months of experience teaching in a relevant industry. 

Additionally, you must complete 25 hours of educational activities in event planning or an internship. After meeting these requirements, take the CMP course and the exam, which consists of 165 questions (150 of which count towards your score). Visit the Event's Industry Council website at eventscouncil.org for more details. 

2. CSEP: Certified Special Events Professional
Established by the International Live Events Association (ILEA) in 1993, the CSEP exam validates the knowledge and expertise of event professionals, providing opportunities and maintaining standards in the industry. It provides market-relevant expertise to learners. This certification makes you adept at arranging a team of event professionals with a clear message and managing them to execute a flawless event.

How to Get CSEP Certified:
Eligibility requires one of the following: 

  • Five years of full-time practical experience. 
  • Three years of experience plus a recommendation from an active CSEP. 
  • Three years of full-time experience and a one- or two-year diploma from an events industry program.

3. CMM: Certification in Meeting Management
Issued by Meetings Professional International (MPI), the CMM certification is crucial for management-level meeting and event organizers. The program focuses on meeting management, business management, and leadership. The certification makes you a dynamic and credentialized professional in the meetings and events industry.

How to Get CMM Certified:
To obtain CMM certification, visit mpi.org. Submit a resume showing a minimum of seven years of professional experience, including at least three years of management experience with two years of profit and loss responsibility. Also, provide a personal statement of interest and a letter of recommendation.

4. EDA: Event Data Analysis
The EDA course by MPI teaches data analytics tools and techniques to transform event impacts. You will learn about evaluating event success, data visualization, and data-driven decision-making strategies.

How to Get EDA Certified:
Register for the course at MPI's official website. The fee is $305 for members and $405 for non-members.

5. NACE: National Association for Catering and Events
NACE developed the CPCE exam in 1986 to enhance skills in the catering and events industry. Passing this comprehensive exam demonstrates extensive knowledge of the latest trends.

How to Get NACE Certified:
Candidates need at least three years of experience in the past five years and 30 hours of professional development. Submit the required documents at nace.net, pay the $295 application fee, and prepare for the exam.

6. CGMP: Certified Government Meeting Professional
The CGMP certification is valuable for planners and suppliers working under US federal government regulations. The course is available in virtual, in-person, and on-demand formats. In in-person format, it is delivered once or twice a year, while in virtual format, the course is delivered quarterly. For the on-demand course, you can take it throughout the year by signing up at learn.sgmp.org.

How to Get CGMP Certified:
An active SGMP membership and 12 months of full-time hospitality experience are required. Pay the $649 course fee, which covers the course, text, and final exam.

7. CEM: Certified in Exhibition Management
CEM was created by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) in 1975 for exhibition managers in the United States, Canada, China, Korea, Brazil, Malaysia, Portugal, Spain, Singapore, and Taiwan. It is one of the best event planning certificate programs to advance careers in exhibition and event management. The course gives significant knowledge of topics related to meetings management, consumer show management, event marketing, operations, exhibition, and event sales.

How to Get CEM Certified:
Ensure you have three years of full-time experience in the field. Choose 9 out of 13 courses available on-demand, in-person, or virtually. Fees vary by format: $299 for members and $440 for non-members (per course) in the US; on-demand courses are $350 for members and $605 for non-members (per course).

8. Accessibility Considerations for Event Planning Certificate
Developed by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), this certification equips planners to create accessible events. You will learn to use key tools and technology to enhance accessibility and improve ROI. Designed for meeting planners, corporate event planners, and B2B and B2C professionals, it provides the skills for creating accessible touchpoints during event organization. You learn about the key tools and technology to create highly accessible in-person, virtual, and hybrid events and consequently, improve attendance, ticket sales, and ROI. 

How to Get Certified:
Purchase the self-paced course for $85 (PCMA members) at pcma.org. The course is self-paced with modules that differ in the number of hours needed for completion.

9. CTSM: Certified Trade Show Marketer
Offered by Exhibitor Media Group, CTSM is a university-affiliated program covering trade show and corporate event planning, marketing, management, and measurement. It focusses on optimizing the financial value of trade show participation, best practices of trade show organization, and the knowledge of legal principles for trade shows. Learners can continually find personal growth opportunities by opting for its certification upgrades and staying ahead in the ever-evolving events industry.

How to Get CTSM Certified:
Enroll at exhibitoronline.com, complete 23 course sessions (totaling 42 hours), pass the CTSM exam, and submit an applied learning portfolio. Graduates earn 4 Continuing Education Units through Northern Illinois University Outreach.

10. CAE: Certified Association Executive
The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) offers the CAE certification for managing organizations effectively. The program covers areas like association management, volunteer management, and public relations. 

How to Get CAE Certified:
Visit asaecenter.org to create an account and view application requirements. Complete five one-day courses, then pass a four-hour exam with 200 MCQs. The application fee is $500 for ASAE members and $750 for non-members.

11. ULC: Universal Lead Capture
Designed by Lead Liaison University, the ULC course is for professionals involved in marketing coordination and lead capture at events. If you are part of a team that plans event lead capture process, or want to equip yourself with the skills to leverage conferences and trade shows, this course is for you. It teaches you the art of creating an event, and how to promote booth engagement, adoption rate, and ROI. 

How to Get ULC Certified:
Enroll for free at Lead Liaison University's website. Complete the online modules and mini-quizzes to get certified.

12. DES: Digital Event Strategist
The DES certification by PCMA is for planners wanting to excel in digital event strategy. The course covers best practices for creating hybrid experiences and leveraging new technologies like the metaverse.

How to Get DES Certified:
Purchase the course for $695 (non-members) or $595 (members) at pcma.org. Complete 10 CMP credit hours and pass the final exam. Access downloadable resources, webinars, live discussions, and the DES graduates community. Recertification is required every two years.

Don’t Have Much Time? Take These Short Online Courses
Are you a busy professional struggling to find time for lengthy courses? We have some great news for you. Some top certifications for event planners can be acquired online from reputable providers like Udemy and Great Learning. Check them out:

1. Great Special Events Organization and Management

  • Platform: Udemy 
  • Duration: 1 hour and 5 minutes 
  • Cost: $9.58

Overview: This short course provides essential knowledge on ideating and executing successful events, boosting ROI, and conducting post-event assessments. 

2. Events 3.0: Modern Marketing for Event Professionals 

  • Platform: Udemy 
  • Duration: 4 hours and 32 minutes 
  • Cost: $27.57 

Overview: Learn how to apply full-funnel marketing principles to events. This course covers creating events that enhance your pipeline and ROI.

3. Event Management 

  • Platform: Great Learning 
  • Duration: Less than an hour 
  • Cost: Free 

Overview: This comprehensive course covers event management from planning to post-event strategies. It's perfect for a quick yet thorough understanding of event planning.

4. Successful Events: Event Planning, Marketing & Management 

  • Platform: Udemy 
  • Duration: 7 hours 
  • Cost: $6.61 

Overview: Dive deep into event promotion and marketing. Learn how to effectively promote, plan, manage, and monetize events.

5. The Ultimate Scrum Events Course & Practical Scrum Examples 

  • Platform: Udemy 
  • Duration: 2 hours and 35 minutes 
  • Cost: $23 

Overview: This detailed course offers practical examples of scrum events, timeboxing, sprint planning, and user studies. It's a great resource for mastering scrum in event planning.

Quality education and training empower you to make better decisions. The event planning certificate programs mentioned above will equip you to plan a variety of events, including webinars, in-person events, hybrid events, conferences, trade shows, and networking events. Successfully orchestrating events with your newfound knowledge will boost your reputation and help you thrive in this competitive landscape. 

Event planning becomes even easier with technology. Check out Eventcombo's tools to become a tech-savvy event specialist. https://bit.ly/3R9bkuP

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