If you have high organisation and interpersonal skills and thrive in a fast-paced environment, consider a career as an event manager
Event managers plan and organise promotional, business and social events. They're responsible for running a range of events, ensuring the target audience is engaged and the message of the event is marketed properly. Events play a huge part in the success of a brand or an organisation.
As an event manager, you'll organise conferences, seminars and exhibitions, as well as parties and corporate incentive trips.
You'll manage the whole process from the planning stage, right through to running the event and carrying out the post-event evaluation. The role is primarily hands-on and often involves working as part of a team.
As an event manager, you'll need to:
- liaise with clients to find out their exact event requirements
- produce detailed proposals for events (including timelines, venues, suppliers, legal obligations, staffing and budgets)
- research venues, suppliers and contractors, then negotiate prices and hire
- manage and coordinate suppliers and all event logistics (for example, venue, catering, travel)
- liaise with sales and marketing teams to publicise and promote the event
- manage all pre-event planning, organising guest speakers and delegate packs
- coordinate suppliers, handle client queries and troubleshoot on the day of the event to ensure that all runs smoothly and to budget
- manage a team of staff, giving full briefings
- organise facilities for car parking, traffic control, security, first aid, hospitality and the media
- make sure that insurance, legal, health and safety obligations are followed
- oversee the dismantling and removal of the event and clear the venue efficiently
- produce post-event evaluation to inform future events
- research opportunities for new clients and events.
- Salaries for entry-level roles typically range from £18,000 to £22,000.
- With experience, you can expect to earn between £22,000 and £25,000.
- Salaries for managers can start at around £33,000, rising to in excess of £40,000 for senior managers or directors with extensive experience and an impressive track record.
Salaries vary depending on your employer, location and the sector you work in. Additional benefits, which can increase your overall salary, include performance-related pay, commission and bonuses.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
You'll generally work normal office hours in the lead up to an event, but may need to work extra hours, including evenings and weekends, closer to the event.
Part-time work is possible.
What to expect
- Although the work is largely office based, you'll need to travel to visit clients, partners, sponsors, venues and other suppliers. You may need to work outside to plan and deliver the event, e.g. an outdoors concert or festival.
- Jobs are available throughout the UK, often in larger towns and cities, or locations with large conference and event venues.
- Self-employment and freelance work are possible once you've got experience and an established network of contacts.
- Depending on the kind of event you're working on, you may need to spend time away from home either in the UK or abroad.
Although you don't need a specific degree subject to become an event manager, a degree or HND in event management, hotel or catering management, leisure and tourism, marketing or business may be useful. Employers are much more interested in your skills, personal qualities and experience in the industry.
You don't need a degree to become an events manager and you can work your way up from an assistant position, gaining experience as you progress. It may be useful to take the Level 2 Certificate in Event Planning, although not essential.
There is no typical route to becoming an event manager and most organisations will recruit as vacancies arise.
Some people move into event management from related areas such as marketing, hospitality, PR or arts administration.
You'll need to have:
- organisational skills and attention to detail
- communication and interpersonal skills
- negotiation skills when looking for the best price from venues, suppliers and contractors
- time-management skills and the ability to work under pressure to ensure the efficient running of an event
- project management experience
- problem-solving skills and diplomacy
- sales and marketing skills to promote the event and attract sponsorship
- the ability to manage budgets
- a flexible, target-driven, proactive approach
- administrative and IT skills
- self-motivation and enthusiasm.
Relevant experience, either paid or voluntary, and knowledge of the industry is essential to break in to this competitive field. Some degree courses have an optional year in industry and this can be a great way of developing relevant experience and making industry contacts.
Make the most of your time at university by organising events for a student society or for charities or other organisations and clubs you have links with. Experience in the hospitality industry or in a sales, marketing or customer service role is also useful.
You can work in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors for event management companies, in-house organisations or freelance. Typical employers include:
- conference and exhibition centres
- events venues
- large commercial organisations
- local authorities
- music, literary and theatre festivals
- public attractions
- public relations (PR) agencies
- specialist event management consultancies
Look for job vacancies at:
Specialist recruitment agencies also handle vacancies. See:
LinkedIn is a good way of finding contacts within the industry, or you could try making targeted, speculative applications to companies.
As a new event manager, you'll typically develop your skills and knowledge by working alongside more experienced colleagues. Opportunities for training depend on your employer and may include short courses, run either in-house or externally. Sessions covered typically include:
- conference and event planning
- customer care
- event marketing and copywriting
- health and safety
- project management
- sales and sponsorship.
Courses are also run by professional bodies such as the AEO, the Association of Conferences and Events (ACE) and the Society of Event Organisers (SEO).
Areas covered include how to plan effective marketing events, sponsorship selling techniques, health and safety and risk assessment.
Other professional bodies with relevant courses, events and seminars include:
- Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) - professional development opportunities for members through meetings and seminars
- Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) - ranging from one-day sales and marketing courses to Certificate and Diploma qualifications
- Meetings Industry Association (MIA) - one-day events, courses and seminars.
Membership of these bodies is also useful for keeping up to date with the latest industry news, networking and developing contacts.
It may also be useful to take a course in health and safety. The EPC (Emergency Planning College), for example, offers a range of courses in event and public safety.
Event management is a competitive career area and promotion will depend on:
- the type and size of organisation you work for
- how quickly you can develop the key skills and qualities needed to succeed
- your ability to develop a strong network of contacts
- your track record.
Promotion may involve moving from an assistant post to team leader, which may include managing a small team, and then on to the role of manager, then senior manager or director. With experience you can take on responsibility for large-scale events, which are more complex to manage, involve high-profile clients and include bigger budgets.
Career progression is likely to involve changing jobs, moving to a larger company or, alternatively, setting up as a freelance event management consultant.