Colleges and universities that offer event planning as a degree have a broad range in their study programs. College programs usually offer hospitality as a major with event planning a minor. These programs integrate coursework in business, management, and finance into the curriculum. Rather than focus on particular training in specific fields of event planning, these general programs include:
Food and beverage
Travel and tourism
Many schools offer associate's and bachelor's degree programs as well as certificate programs in event planning.
Most senior-level and management positions require a bachelor's degree or two to four years experience in event planning or related fields. Bachelor's degree programs take an average of four years to complete. Students receiving a bachelor's degree will graduate with a comprehensive understanding of all the fields related to the hospitality market.
Along with an applied knowledge of the various aspects of event planning, many graduates also have training in restaurant settings on campus or through internships. Event planning relies heavily on the food and beverage industry. This is an advantage of having a background in a food and beverage program. Some colleges and universities offer paid internships as well as externships.
An associate's degree takes about two years to complete. Associate's degrees tend to offer more specialized education in event planning. Consider an associate's degree when you have a specific field in mind. An associate's degree gives the beginner the foundation she needs to get started in event planning. This program will familiarize her with the language used in event planning and give her a basic understanding of the career. Examples of positions obtained through a two-year program are travel coordinator, trade show planner, or casino event planner. With an associate's degree, you can start your career in midlevel management or junior-level positions.
Some culinary schools also offer event-planning programs. In a culinary school environment, students are exposed to training in back-of-the-house as well as front-of-the-house environments. Culinary schools often have kitchens as classrooms and restaurants on campus. The culinary school's restaurant is open to the public and often has banquet facilities in which students can observe and train.
A certificate program in event planning is a great way for a beginner to transition into event planning in a short amount of time. Certificate programs can take as little as ten weeks to complete. A person working in fields related to event planning, such as a vendor position, may consider obtaining a certificate. Upon receipt of your certificate, you will be qualified for various positions, including junior-level event-planning positions or hourly paying jobs in production and development. Some schools offering certificate programs offer job placement as well.
According to Salary.com, the average salary for event planners ranges from $26,000 to $88,000. A formal education can also put you on the fast track to the top of your earning potential. In some major metropolitan markets, event-planning executives can make as much as $110,000 at the height of their careers.
Other Benefits of Degree Programs
Some colleges and universities offer a more international scope in their hospitality education programs. Study-abroad programs attract students who would like to combine their education with travel and relocation opportunities in different countries. Studying a second language will also benefit students and make them more attractive on the global hiring stage.
Alumni contacts are a little trade secret and an enormous benefit to getting a degree in event planning. Students a year or two your senior will be established in the field by the time you need an internship or graduate. Faculty and alumni of a university will often keep in close contact when an internship or job opportunity arises for undergraduates. Alumni offices often hire students for various positions to aid in planning events.
Become involved with the events departments on your campus. Chances are your college has more than one events department, depending on the size of your school. The office of student affairs, responsible for all student activities, would be a valuable resource to gain experience. Volunteering at faculty and alumni offices would also be a good place to gain experience. Commencement exercises will always be in need of a production staff, as will parent-student activities that take place throughout the year.