Top Seven Event Planning Certifications Explained

Ever wonder what CMP, CSEP, CPCE, CGMP means in relation to event planning? Curious if event planning certifications can actually help you learn more about the industry or take your career to the next level? If the answer is yes, you’ve come to the right place.

Discover what seven of the most popular event planning certifications actually mean, how to get them, and how they can help your career. We’ll also show you how to use a certification to your advantage at the end of the article.

1. CMP: Certified Meetings Professional

What Is The CMP Certification?According to CIC (Convention Industry Council), the main goal of the CMP program is to standardize best-practices, establish credibility to the profession, and boost the performance of event planners.

The CMP exam is developed by planners from around the world and the certification itself is held by professionals from 55 countries. With more than 14,000 meeting professionals having received CMP Certification, the CMP program has led the way in standardizing event industry best-practices throughout the globe.

How To Become CMP Certified? The exam covers a range of event industry topics, from strategic planning, to site management, to event design and marketing. CIC recommends that those interested first consult the CMP International Standards document, and then focus on studying the areas outlined that planners are least familiar with.

For those interested, CIC offers a Healthcare specific CMP certification, designed to educate planners foucsed on the healthcare industry.

2. CSEP: Certified Special Events Professional

What Is The CSEP Certification? The CSEP Certification, endorsed by ISES (International Special Events Society), is meant to improve industry performance by providing professionals with the opportunity to develop professionally and gain expertise in the events industry. The CSEP program is also meant to respond to the growing complexity of maintaining a standard of practice among events professionals in an industry that is constantly changing.

There are a variety of benefits that come with CSEP Certification. For example, as the CSEP certification is globally recognized, planners will be connected to a global community of other professionals in the industry.

How To Become CSEP Certified? In order to be eligible for the CSEP program, offered four times a year, event planners must have a minimum of three years of full-time professional employment in the special events industry. In order to keep up to date with industry best practices, those with CSEP certification are required to recertify every five years. For details on the structure of the exam and testing periods, check out the ISES website.

3. CPCE: Certified Professional in Catering and Events

What Is The CPCE Certification? Organized by NACE, the National Association for Catering and Events, the CPCE Certification is a nationally recognized program meant to provide organizers with the opportunity to be recognized as an expert in the catering, hospitality and events industry.

How To Become CPCE Certified? The structure of the exam is comprehensive and consists of 175 multiple choice questions, covering domains ranging from accounting to beverage management, and marketing to human resources. Planners can be sure that by preparing and succeeding in this exam, they will have a strong grasp of a wide range of industry knowledge.

4. CGMP: Certified Government Meeting Professional

What Is The CGMP Certification? The CGMP program is the highest designation geared toward government planners and suppliers. The certification is meant to provide planners with a strong understanding of the rules and regulations surrounding government meetings, and to “increase the exposure/importance of the government market” within the events industry.

The CGMP Certification is excellent for government meeting professionals, because it not only provides planners with expert knowledge on the details of rules and regulations but has the highest level of certification for this specific industry, it also better positions certification holders for growth within their company

How To Become CGMP Certified? The program encompasses a 100 multiple-choice exam, and the three-day course consisting of instruction within a variety of areas, specifically ethics, Federal budget and appropriations, Federal travel regulations, and contracting.

5. GTP: Global Travel Professional

What Is The GTP Certification? According to the Global Business Travel Association, the GTP Certification is meant to raise the standards of the business travel management industry. GBTA also claims that not only do industry professionals benefit from the CGB program by facilitating professional growth, the program also benefits the business travel industry itself by helping employers choose personnel who are knowledgeable.

Obtaining GTP Certification can go a long way in terms of developing one’s professional image and career. As hundreds of leading professionals in the business travel industry have earned the GTP Certification, participating in this program will give organizers credentials that match these leaders.

How To Become GTP Certified? GTP Certification requires applicants complete a comprehensive exam that covers domains from strategic business planning, buyer/supplier relations, to data, analytics and finance. The GTP program also offers a variety of ways to help applicants succeed through the program, from study guides and resource lists to online prep courses.

6. DES: Digital Event Strategist

What Is The DES Certification? The DES Certification is a direct result of the growing importance and integration of digital technology within the events industry, and is meant to respond to the growth of virtual events. DES Certification provides effective instruction in strategies to maximize digital engagement practices, from the planning stage through to measuring results.

The main goal of the DES event planning certification is to improve the skills event organizers need to excel in the digital events industry. The benefits of certification range from career development through obtaining professionally recognizable skills and qualifications, to recognition from peers that you are engaged in the future of the events industry.

How To Become DES Certified? DES Certification consists of a three-part process: a demonstration of previous professional experience in the industry, the DES Online Learning Program, and the exam. The curriculum and exam cover topics ranging from user experience, content development, product launches, audience acquisition, and monetization techniques. The exam itself is based on this curriculum, as detailed on the DES Certification page.

7. CMM: Certification in Meeting Management

What Is The CMM Certification? The CMM Certification is an excellent training program that focuses on instructing participants on business management skills. The CMM program qualifies participants in topics related to business management, and has also developed a “global standard of excellence” in this industry.

The major objectives of the program are to instruct future leaders on ways to develop and analyze business data, to explore the skills necessary to succeed in managing teams, and to gain exposure to finance, risk analysis, and other components of managing a business. The CMM program is particularly important for the events industry, as event organizers must understand and utilize data, learn to mitigate risks, and develop management and leadership skills in order for events to succeed.

How To Become CMM Certified? The CMM program offers a customized training and study program. It is led by University of Virginia professors who cover important business management topics like strategic negotiations, business analytics, and risk mitigation. In addition to this training, the program also includes a case study project that conjoins what you’ve learned to your actual role in the industry.

Putting An Event Planning Certification Into Practice

Once an event planner has obtained an event planning certification, it’s important to leverage it in order to advance one’s career. As we’ve mentioned in our article on LinkedIn Profile tips for planners, displaying an event planning certification or certifications in the header of your LinkedIn profile is a great way to immediately attract positive attention from potential clients or employers.

Event planners who have received one or multiple event planning certifications should also be sure to stay up-to-date with the organizations that are responsible for granting them. Often organizations like ISES maintain active local chapters where event planners can come together to network and share best practices.

Earning a certification is just the first step to becoming a better event organizer. Once a planner has obtained a certification, it’s time to use the new credential to full effective in order to grow professionally.

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