Having work experience is vital if you want to become an event manager, but you can also get a head start by studying courses that develop the essential skills you'll need
Event managers are responsible for planning events, ensuring they run smoothly and evaluating their success once they're over. You can learn about what the role involves, how much you'll earn and the skills you need by visiting the event manager job profile.
To break into event management, the most important thing is to gain experience. This can be through formal placements with relevant organisations, or informally by running events whenever and wherever you can - for example, for university clubs and societies. Search for hospitality and event management work experience.
However, event management courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level are available and gaining a qualification will give you the best chance of getting a job. Some courses include a year in industry, giving you the best of both worlds in terms of knowledge and experience.
Event management degrees
There are a growing number of undergraduate courses in event management. Studying one will give you the general overview and practical experience you need to start a career in events as diverse as business conferences, weddings, trade fairs and music festivals.
An example is the University of Derby's BA Event Management. Based at the university's Buxton campus, the course provides you with all-round managerial skills, the chance to deliver events for the university and its partners, and experience field trips throughout the UK and overseas.
The course at Derby is accredited by the Institute of Hospitality and past students have gained work experience at high-profile events including Glastonbury and London Fashion Week. It takes three years to complete, or four if you choose the option including a formal work placement between the second and final years.
This type of general event management degree is available at many UK universities. However, others have a more specific focus if you already know what type of events you want to be involved in.
For instance, the BA Festival and Event Management at Southampton Solent University is perfect if you want to specialise in managing large outdoor events. During your three years of study, you'll undertake a minimum of 210 hours of practical experience.
Many courses are available that combine event management with tourism. BA Event Management with Tourism at the University of West London, for example, gives you the opportunity to study the travel and tourism industry alongside the practicalities of managing events. Learn more about travel and tourism courses.
Assessment of these programmes tends to be heavily weighted towards practical projects and coursework rather than written exams, and they are often available with a placement year included, so check with your chosen university. You can find undergraduate programmes in event management with the UCAS course finder.
Postgraduate courses in events
If you want to study event management as postgraduate level, Masters degrees typically last for 12 months if studied full time or two years if you opt to take the course part time.
Entry requirements vary between universities, so always check with the institution. You may need to have a good degree in a related discipline, but in some cases any subject is acceptable. It's also possible to gain entry without a degree if you have extensive industry experience.
One example is the MA Events and Conference Management at the University of Westminster. If you want to study in an environment in which countless major business and cultural events are happening throughout the year, there's nowhere better than London.
Tuition fees for this course are currently £8,000 for UK and European Union (EU) students. You'll be taught about how different types of events are planned and also how they contribute to communities and businesses.
You'll also complete a dissertation based on your research into an events or conference management topic. Optional modules include 'Festivals, culture and place' and 'Tourism and cities'.
Masters courses in event management are assessed in a variety of ways. For example, the University of Greenwich's MA International Events Management includes:
- class presentations
- tests and exams
- problem-solving tasks
- case studies
- consultancy plans
Look for courses that most closely match your particular interests. The MA Events and Experience Management at Goldsmiths, University of London, for instance, has especially close links with the creative and cultural industries.
Optional modules on this course include 'Culture, tourism and regeneration', 'Tourism in Asia' and 'Cultural and creative tourism'. Tuition fees are £9,840 for UK and EU students in the 2018/19 academic year.
Meanwhile, Bournemouth University's MSc Events Management is designed as a conversion course for those who want to change subject or career. It's an academically driven programme with a practical element, with tuition fees of £7,500 for UK and EU students starting in September 2018 and January 2019.
A variety of other programmes are available, with their own strengths, so search for postgraduate courses in event management to find the one that suits you best.
Event management short courses
If you want to gain a qualification without spending thousands of pounds on tuition fees, many short courses are available, ranging from a day to several weeks in length. Some are recognised by professional industry bodies.
These won't go into the same depth as undergraduate or postgraduate study, but they'll still give you a strong grounding in the theory and practice. If you're already working in the sector, your employer may finance your training.
As an example, Event Academy's Foundation Certificate lasts one week and costs £1,250. Attending all day Monday to Friday, you'll be introduced to the events industry and assessed through a group project and an exam. Meanwhile, the Diploma involves 12 weeks of part-time study, costs £1,695 and is assessed through a group project based on a live client brief and an exam.
There are also postgraduate and degree alternative options. These courses can be taken online or in the classroom in London, and they are accredited by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). Find out more about Event Academy.
Find out more
- Discover how to become a wedding planner.
- Explore the Institute of Event Management (IEM).
- Get advice from the Association of Event Organisers (AEO).