Job Universe: Meeting Planner

Meeting planners coordinate every detail of meetings and conventions.

  • The job: Meeting planners coordinate every detail of meetings and conventions, from the speakers and meeting location to arranging for printed materials and audiovisual equipment. Planners increasingly focus on how meetings affect the goals of their organizations. Planners search for prospective meeting sites, arrange support services, coordinate with the facility, prepare the site staff for the meeting, and set up all forms of electronic communication needed for the meeting or convention, such as E-mail, voice mail, video, and online communication.
  • Outlook: Employment of meeting and convention planners is expected to grow 20 percent over the 2006-16 decade. As businesses and organizations take on a greater international character, meetings and conventions become even more important. In organizations that span the country or the globe, the periodic meeting is increasingly the only time the organization can bring all of its members together.
  • Experience: Many employers prefer applicants who have a bachelor's degree, but this is not always required. Several universities offer bachelor's or master's degrees with majors in meetings management. Additionally, meeting and convention planning continuing education programs are offered by a few universities and colleges. Many migrate into the occupation after gaining planning experience. For example, an administrative assistant may begin planning small meetings and gradually move into a full-time position as a meeting and convention planner.
  • The not-so-good: Hours can be long and irregular, with planners working more than 40 hours per week in the time leading up to a meeting and fewer hours after finishing a meeting. During meetings or conventions, planners may have very long days, possibly starting as early as 5 a.m. and working until midnight. They are sometimes required to work on weekends.
  • Pay: Median annual wage and salary earnings of meeting and convention planners in May 2006 were $42,180. The middle 50 percent earned between $32,840 and $55,040.

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This information is from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.