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Event Planning Certification

Event Planning Certification

Does event planning require a license?
How do professional certifications work?

Do I need an event planning certification to get a job in the industry?
Will an event planning certification help me in my career?

What are product based certifications?
What are association based certificaitons?
What is the CMP?
What is the CSEP?
Which ELI educational products offer certifications?
How are ELI's event planning certifications different?
What kind of credibility does ELI have within the Industry?

Does event planning require a license or certification?
No. Many professions do require a license of some sort. For example, you can’t practice law without being admitted to the bar in a given state, and you can’t practice medicine without a license. We can all agree those make sense.

There are, however, plenty of professions that do require a license, which makes no sense. Any government can decide this, and it’s often the result of heavy lobbying by an industry to stifle competition.  Makeup artists require a license in 36 states, and funeral attendants are licensed in nine states. Go figure. Event planning requires no license, nor do we think it should.

How do professional certifications work?
Any organization can issue certifications, based on whatever criteria they determine. It can be based on years of experience, passing a test, paying a fee, or some combination of the above. The organization further decides how hard the test questions are, and what constitutes a passing grade.

The value of a certification, therefore, is a direct function of how respected the organization is that issues it. A CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is widely valued as the equivalent of passing the bar for lawyers. Others aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Which ELI educational products offer certifications?
We offer two different forms of learning: structured and unstructured.

  1. Unstructured Learning includes our Netflix-style On Demand Video Class Library, which features over 150 instructional videos that average 45 minutes in length, and are broken into easy to find chapters, taking advantage of the micro-learning format. Content is organized into topical tracks such as Business, Creativity & Design, Strategy, Venues, Tech, Careers, etc. We currently do not offer exams or credentials for these.
  2. Structured Learning includes our instructor-led Professional Development Courses which follow a specific syllabus and include assignments, quizzes, group discussions and other interactive elements. Upon completing a course, attendees can take a final exam to earn a digital certification credential for these courses.

How are ELI’s event planning certifications different?

  1. Specification. After talking extensively with numerous industry employers and leaders, we created a range of courses and certifications to address the various needs that employers and independent business owners had. For those looking to successfully plan fundraising events, for example, we developed our Fundraising Event Management course and certification. For those seeking a strong foundation for strategy and planning of a broad range of functions, we have the Event & Meeting Management Fundamentals course. For event agencies and production companies looking to hire someone to manage the staging and a/v elements of a program, the Technical Meeting & Event Production course is ideal. If you’re looking to advance your wedding planning career or business, we designed Wedding Planning Fundamentals and Wedding & Event Design.  And for those who’ve mastered the event management process but are looking for guidance on the business side, we developed the Launching Pad, Business Accelerator, and Venue Sales Accelerator. Rather than a one-size-fits-all program, we customized our offerings to reflect the complexity and diversity of today’s event industry. This enables us to go deep in whatever specialty course we’re in.
  2. Proprietary Content While some associations only focus on managing the application and testing elements, ELI develops all its own instructional content from leading subject matter experts, in consultation with top industry employers and leaders.
  3. No Testing Fees. We don’t charge a fee to apply for, or take, an exam. The exam fee is included in your course registration.
  4. Digital Credentials. We offer clickable and shareable certification badges which can be placed on your Linked In profile, email signature, website, and other digital platforms. Anyone who clicks on them is brought to a secure Verification Page on our site, confirming your name, the date you earned the credential, what you mastered to earn it, and what it qualifies you to do.

What are product-based certifications?
Some certifications are extremely narrow and focus only on someone’s mastery of a software program or some other product. Google offers an AdWords certification that shows someone mastered online advertising. In the event industry, for example, cvent offers a certification that simply shows you know how to use their program.

What Are Association Based Certifications
In many industries, trade associations create their own certifications. These usually require participants to have a certain number of years of experience within the field, as well as some continuing education credits. In the latter case, you’re expected to track your own ongoing education and submit a record of what you did, and the association usually does not monitor whether you actually attended, watched, or retained the content presented.

  • What is the Certified Meeting Professional?  The CMP is a meetings-focused certification issued by the Convention Industry Council, an organization comprised of many convention and meeting industry associations. Earning a CMP requires: 36 months of industry experience + 25 clock hours of continuing education + a $250 non-refundable application fee in order to apply to take a comprehensive exam.  If your application is approved, you’ll then pay a $450 non-refundable exam fee. You’ll then need to pass the exam, which is offered four times per year. The exam includes 330 questions and takes 3.5 hours. Most applicants purchase a textbook to prepare for the exam and often organize study groups. A large portion of ELI’s content has been preapproved to count toward the 25 clock hour education requirement. The CMP content is organized into ten topical domains. The CMP guidebook is one of several industry resources ELI consults in its own development process.
  • What is the Certified Special Event Professional? The CSEP is offered by the International Live Events Association, and requires candidates to have at least three years of event industry experience in order to sit for the exam, which includes 100 questions plus a written portion. The exam fee is $600. Content is organized into 4 sections: Development Phase; Pre-Production Phase; Production Phase; Post-Production Phase. There is currently no textbook available to help applicants prep for the exam.  ELI is an Education Partner of ILEA.

Do I need an event planning certification to get a job in the industry?
You do not need to be a certified event planner to get a job in the industry, plan events in general, or to set up your own event business. In fact, most of the senior leaders in the industry learned on their own, because there were no educational options available at the time.  That’s starting to change, however, as more quality education and training options become available.

Will an event planning certification help me in my career?
It might, depending on where you earned it. The true measure of the value of an event planning certification, digital credential, certificate, or any other designation, is what the hiring professionals think of it. This is why we’re constantly working with a wide range of industry leaders to tell us what skills they feel we should teach to best prepare our learners for the demands of their jobs.  There are a number of (predominantly) online organizations that offer event planning certifications and courses of dubious quality that, quite frankly, most people in the event industry have never even heard of.

What kind of credibility does ELI have within the Industry?
We think you'll be hard pressed to find another educational organization with a stronger reputation among leaders in every sector of the industry. In addition to the quality of our content, ELI has been an education innovator since its inception, pioneering micro-learning, flipped classrooms, digital credentials and numerous other ed-tech developments. Our instructors and advisors speak at conferences, are routinely ranked among the top experts in the world, and are known thought leaders. In addition:

  • We moderate a Roundtable Series for heads of corporate event departments.
  • A growing number of colleges that teach undergraduate event management courses have their students use ELIs instructional videos instead of textbooks in their classes.
  • We regularly go on site to run training programs and management retreats for leading event agencies (like First Protocol, David Stark, Grass Roots), venues (Yankee Stadium, Marriott, Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum), and in-house corporate event teams (Bank of America, Verizon, Univision)
  • Our instructors are widely recognized as industry experts and thought leaders.  Kevin White, for instance, is a former global president of the International Live Events Association, while Lindsay Landman is on Vogue’s list of the World’s Top Wedding Planners. Liz Glover Wilson plans fundraisers for Tyra Banks, Leonardo DiCaprio and other celebrities. Brandt Krueger has become one of the top event tech experts in the world.
  • ELI’s founder, Howard Givner, ran an award winning event agency for twenty years before starting the company. BizBash Media, the leading event industry publication, is an investor in the company.

Ask people who’ve been in the industry a while, and they know who we are and have great respect for the quality of our content. 

© The Event Leadership Institute 2011. All rights reserved.

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