It’s no secret that differentiating your legitimate event management experience can be difficult for those who aren't as familiar with the meetings and hospitality industry. One of the best ways to demonstrate your value is through certifications. By applying for (and acquiring) recognition from the relevant industry groups, you can show that your expertise or agency meets a higher standard than much of the competition. You can show people why they should choose you over someone else.
And as an added bonus, you may even learn something in the process.
Here are a few you should focus on to get started. There are plenty of others, too.
A Certification Relevant To Your Area of Expertise
The first item on our list is technically several different, distinctive certifications. See, depending on what sort of event management field you work in, there will be different associations and organizations you’ll want to approach. Let’s say, for example, you intend to primarily work as a meeting planner for corporate clients.
You’ll want to go for the Certified Meeting Professional Certification (CMP), developed by the Events Industry Industry Council. Other certifications include Certified in Exhibition Management™ (CEM), Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP), Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE), Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP), and Global Travel Professional (GTP) - to name just a few.
These certifications all have one thing in common.
They seek to establish a set of standards, guidelines, and best practices for their industry. Holding any of them shows that you adhere to those standards. That you take pride in your work and have the knowledge necessary to meet the needs of your clients.
Digital Event Strategist
Like many industries, event planning is becoming increasingly digitized, increasingly defined and disrupted by new technology. The DES Certification aims to prepare event planners for this rapid, constant evolution. Holding this certification demonstrates that you have got a solid understanding of the digital economy and that you have got the skills necessary to leverage it to maximum effect.
You can learn more about the certification and apply to take the exam here.
Professional Certified Marketer
Our last entry isn’t technically geared solely towards event management professionals, but I’d argue it’s essential all the same. Developed by the American Marketing Association, the Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) program demonstrates that you’ve achieved full expertise in not just managing your events, but also marketing them. It’s technically three distinct certifications, but I believe all three are extremely valuable for your career:
- Digital Marketing. Covers topics that include SEO, web metrics, conversions, and email marketing.
- Content Marketing. Focuses on multi-channel content creation and narrative techniques to help maximize ROI.
- Marketing Management. Covers topics that include value creation, communication, an understanding of one’s marketplace, and communication, among others.
If you were to choose only one, I’d recommend either Digital Marketing or Marketing Management. That said, if you have got the time and resources, I’d highly advise attempting to acquire all three certifications. Not just because it will look good for prospective clients, but because it will help you be more effective as an event management professional.
In Closing, Certified Means an Extra Boost for Your Career
Certifications will certainly boost your pay. But what are other reasons to invest in your continuing education?
- Some jobs require candidates to earn the CMP, CEM, or similar. Want to be head of the meetings or tradeshow department? Get your certifications and prove that you're serious about that next step in your career.
- Continuing education help you gain the skills you need for your next (better) job.
- It grows your network and community of practice.
- Certificates, as well as certifications, increase your earning potential if they prove you’ve mastered the skills necessary for your advancement at your current job. Especially with the digital and marketing areas. Short of attaining your MBA, these certifications are specially designed to help you in succeeding in a quick-changing space.