Event planning is an attractive career, allowing you to travel, meet many interesting people, and feel the thrill of being able to say 'I did that'. In these changing times, it can be difficult to choose which qualification suits you best, and how you prefer to learn.
If you are about to leave school or college then you may be debating whether to take the further education route or the apprentice route. Both offer their unique advantages and disadvantages, the main differences being that as an apprentice you will be reviving a wage, but no formal qualification at the end (usually), whereas further education will cost you money, but you will have a qualification at the end of it.
You may be looking to change career - whether you have done a spot of event management in your current job, or whether you fancy a change - then you may be looking at gaining some training or a qualification in event management. For this you may be tempted to take a break from work and go back into education, or you may investigate evening courses which you can undertake alongside your day job.
There are many university courses available in event planning and management. If you are about to leave college then you may wish to take advantage of this route, as you will likely be entitled to student loans although tuition fees are increasing rapidly. If you are looking for a course in event management then you should look in detail at the courses offered by different institutions and look for a course which offers work experience either alongside the taught course or through a placement in a 'sandwich' year.
It is possible that you already hold a degree but that you are looking for a career change. There are some courses available as post-graduate diplomas, or you could opt for a masters degree. Again, real hands-on experience is essential even when you are out to get a qualification.
There are many evening courses available to learn the various aspects of event management. These range from a short course in wedding planning, which could be anything from an afternoon to a year long course, to courses in other aspects of event management, or even full courses covering all aspects. Some of these courses also offer qualifications at the end.
How to decide?
Depending on the types of events you wish to manage, you may or may not need a formal qualification. If you are looking to start a small business planning parties then you are unlikely to require a formal qualification, but gaining experience and learning about how to run a small business would be beneficial. If you are looking to manage big scale events, corporate events, music festivals or charity events then a formal qualification may be required.
What to do next?
Before you apply for a course in event management you should be clear that it is what you want to do. Although the job appears glamorous at times there are often times of stress, and unsociable working hours are likely. You could get a real taste by shadowing an event manager for a few days, or perhaps just talking to someone in the job for a real life perspective on it.