What Are Some Great Career Alternatives for Event Planners?

The life of an event planner is exhilarating yet demanding – spinning multiple plates, herding countless details, and executing flawlessly against relentless deadlines. It’s no surprise that even the most passionate planners can experience burnout from the job. However, the skills honed through event planning are incredibly versatile and transfer well into a wide range of alternative career paths.

In this article, we’ll explore 10 different alternative careers that could be an exceptional fit for those looking to pivot from traditional event planning roles. We’ll dive into the key responsibilities, growth prospects, and ways to highlights your relevant skills when making the transition.

Great Career Alternatives for Event Planners

Alternative #1: Marketing & Communications

Why It’s a Natural Fit: As an event planner, you’re already well-versed in the art of promotion, having spearheaded countless marketing campaigns to drive attendance and awareness. Your experience juggling sponsors, creating compelling content, and managing budgets translates beautifully into roles like:

  • Marketing Coordinator
  • Brand Manager
  • Social Media Specialist
  • Content Marketing Manager
  • Public Relations Specialist

Making the Transition: Lean heavily on portfolio examples that showcase your successful event promotion strategies. Did you pioneer an innovative social media campaign that went viral? Or perhaps you facilitated an attention-grabbing sponsorship package that helped sell out your latest gala?

Highlight metrics like increased registration numbers or sponsorship revenue to quantify your marketing achievements. And be sure to play up skills like market research, copywriting, and managing agency/vendor relationships.

Alternative #2: Project Management

Why It’s a Natural Fit: At its core, event planning is highly detailed, deadline-driven project management. You’re an organizational dynamo skilled at keeping complicated, multifaceted initiatives on track through meticulous planning, budgeting, and team leadership.

With those finely-tuned abilities, you could thrive in project management roles like:

  • Project Manager
  • Program Manager
  • Project Coordinator
  • Operations Manager

Potential industries that could be an exceptional fit include construction, IT, manufacturing, healthcare, and more.

Making the Transition: Quantify your achievements as much as possible when updating your resume and portfolio. How many vendors, contractors, and staff did you oversee for your largest event? What was the total budget you managed? Did you successfully execute a complex, multi-day conference with thousands of attendees under tight timelines?

Highlight skills like creating detailed timelines, conducting risk assessments, negotiating contracts, and managing resources/budgets. And if you have any project management certificates or training, be sure to showcase those as well.

Alternative #3: Meeting & Conference Planning

Why It’s a Natural Fit: For those who truly love the adrenaline-pumping world of corporate events and meetings, you may want to double down with a specialized career in this lucrative niche. Some potential roles to explore include:

  • Meeting Planner
  • Conference Organizer
  • Convention Services Manager
  • Exhibition Manager

Making the Transition: Highlight any experience you have negotiating affordable rates with venues and vendors, from AV companies to caterers. Or showcase examples of creating engaging experiences for attendees through thoughtful programming and production.

Certifications like the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) or Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) can further bolster your credibility in this space. And don’t forget to play up skills like space planning, contract management, and sponsor/exhibitor relationship management.

Certification# Certified GloballyBenefitsCosts
Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)12,000+Increased earning potential, prerequisite for advanced roles, demonstration of expertise$575 for exam, plus educational requirements
Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM)3,000+Validate skills for exhibition/trade show management, pathway for career advancement$530 for exam, plus experiential requirements

Alternative #4: Hospitality & Tourism

Why It’s a Natural Fit: Leveraging your expertise around travel logistics, guest services, and familiarity working with venues/vendors in the hospitality sphere, you could transition into roles like:

  • Hotel Catering Manager
  • Travel Agent
  • Tour Operator
  • Convention Services Manager

Making the Transition: Highlight any experience you have managing room blocks, creating detailed itineraries and transportation plans, or providing top-notch guest services during events. If you have particularly strong geographic knowledge of specific destinations, be sure to market that as well.

Play up skills like vendor sourcing/negotiation, budgeting, and group booking coordination. And consider getting a Certified Travel Associate (CTA) or relevant tourism credential to expand your expertise.

Alternative #5: Event Sales & Catering

Why It’s a Natural Fit: Having successfully managed client and vendor relationships for countless events, your sales chops are likely finely tuned. With that experience under your belt, you could thrive in roles such as:

  • Catering Sales Manager
  • Event Sales Executive
  • Wedding Sales Manager

Making the Transition: Provide quantifiable examples of your skills in action. How much revenue did you help generate through securing high-dollar sponsors or up-selling rental packages? What was the total value of the vendor contracts you negotiated?

Have examples that demonstrate your ability to build strong client relationships and close deals through savvy negotiation tactics. Playing up your menu design/food & beverage expertise from events could also give you an edge for catering sales roles.

RoleAverage Commission Rate
Catering Sales Manager10-20% of total booking revenue
Event Sales ExecutiveBase plus 10-15% commission
Wedding Sales Manager10-18% of total wedding package

Alternative #6: Virtual Event Production

Why It’s a Natural Fit: The pandemic ushered in a new era of events, with virtual and hybrid offerings taking center stage. Your event expertise is incredibly transferable into the digital realm through jobs like:

  • Virtual Event Producer
  • Online Conference Coordinator
  • Webinar Specialist

Making the Transition: Build a portfolio that highlights successful virtual events you helped produce, including metrics like the number of livestream registrations or sponsorship revenue. Emphasize your skills in managing live stream productions, creating online engagement opportunities, and facilitating virtual networking sessions.

Get hands-on experience with popular virtual event platforms like Accelevents, Intrado, Bizzabo, or VPRO. Consider getting a Digital Event Strategist certification as well. And be sure to play up your experience leading remote/virtual teams and keeping online audiences engaged.

PlatformStarting RatesKey Features
Accelevents$1,500+Livestream, breakouts, exhibitor showcases, gamification
VPRO$499+Customizable environments, engagement analytics, continuing education tools
Intrado$599+Webcast and webinar capabilities, on-demand content libraries, white-glove production services
Bizzabo$11,400+ per eventAll-in-one from websites to email marketing, sponsorships, and mobile apps

Alternative #7: Wedding & Social Event Planning

Why It’s a Natural Fit: The lucrative wedding and social events space could be an excellent way to focus your planning talents. Potential roles include:

  • Bridal Consultant
  • Wedding Planner/Coordinator
  • Event Designer

Making the Transition: Weddings and social events require impeccable design vision, flawless logistics coordination, and top-notch vendor management – skills you’ve already honed.Play up examples of creating cohesive event aesthetics, facilitation day-of event management, and your experience booking/negotiating with venues, caterers, florists, and other vendors.

Entrepreneurial Spin: With your existing experience and connections, consider starting your own wedding/event planning firm! You’ll need to get savvy about marketing, lead generation, and maybe even bringing on part-time support staff.

Alternative #8: Non-Profit & Fundraising Events

Why It’s a Natural Fit: For those looking to combine their talents with purpose-driven causes, non-profits, and fundraising organizations desperately need professionals who can plan and execute incredible events. Some potential roles:

  • Development Officer
  • Fundraising Coordinator
  • Volunteer Manager

Making the Transition: Highlight any previous experience in roles that involved event marketing, sponsor/donor management, or planning fundraising campaigns/galas. If you have examples of securing sponsorships, showcase those as well.

Play-up skills like grant writing, community outreach and engagement, and managing/motivating large teams of volunteers. Getting hands-on experience through volunteering with a local non-profit’s events team can also help ease the transition.

Alternative #9: Teaching & Training

Why It’s a Natural Fit: After years of experience, you’ve amassed a wealth of event-planning knowledge and insider tricks just waiting to be shared. Teaching roles like:

  • Event Planning Instructor
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Course Instructor (Online or University)

could be the perfect way to merge your expertise with educating the next wave of event gurus.

Making the Transition: While you don’t necessarily need a formal teaching credential, highlight any experience you have in public speaking, facilitating workshops, developing training content, or mentoring. If you were responsible for onboarding and training event staff, be sure to showcase that experience as well.

Start establishing your expertise by creating a blog or content hub with event planning tips, checklists, and tutorials. Or develop and market an online course through platforms like Udemy or Skillshare. Having a solid portfolio of educational content will demonstrate your ability to teach event planning principles.

You could also explore getting certified as a Certification in Event Management or a similar credential to further bolster your authority. And keep an eye out for adjunct instructor positions at local colleges/universities with event management or hospitality programs.

Alternative #10: Freelance Event Production

Why It’s a Natural Fit: With your vast event planning experience, you have an incredible opportunity to break out as an independent consultant or freelance event producer. You could offer services like:

  • Event Consulting & Strategy
  • Full Event Production & Logistics
  • Pop-Up Event Coordination
  • Event Design & Rentals

The freelance world allows you to be selective with clients, choose projects that excite you, and potentially increase your earnings over time.

Making the Transition: Start by creating a stellar portfolio website that showcases your diverse event experience with stunning visuals and glowing testimonials. Have a clear overview of your services and pricing structure.

Network like crazy within your local events community and investor groups to find those first few clients. Consider joining online freelance marketplaces like UpWork or Fiverr as well to pick up gigs. And get savvy about small business basics like contracts, invoicing, taxes, and insurance.

You’ll need to wear that marketing hat by promoting your services constantly through social media, email marketing, networking events, etc. But with perseverance and a client-wowing approach, you could build a wildly successful event production business.

Bonus Path: Pursue Your Passion

While we’ve covered 10 potential alternative career paths, the transferable skills you’ve cultivated through event planning can kick open doors to many other possibilities. Maybe you want to lean into your creative side through floral design or catering. Or leverage your leadership abilities in a corporate training role.

The key is to self-reflect on your true interests, strengths, and workplace preferences, then get creative about finding roles that could be an exceptional fit. With your high-octane multi-tasking abilities and unflappable cool under pressure, you have the power to thrive in nearly any career arena.

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