Experience is the first step to event planning certification. The Convention Industry Council, the Society of Government Meeting Professionals and the International Professional Events Society offer recognized certifications, but require one to three years of prior experience. Some colleges, like San Diego State University, offer professional certificates in event planning.
College certificate programs are available to new and experienced event planners, but gaining experience is the key issue for aspiring event planners. Though planning a friend's wedding or bar mitzvah may be the event that sparks one's interest in the profession, experience in the realm of professional planning is required for certification and advancement.
Consider volunteering on major events, such as a large fundraising event or a national meeting hosted by a membership organization. Volunteer opportunities offer entry-level experience and exposure to some of the essential skill sets required of event planners: facility arrangements, purchasing, logistical coordination and marketing. In addition to firsthand experience, when starting out you need to consider whether or not you possess the qualities most important for success as an event planner, including organization, communication skills, negotiation and the ability to work calmly and cordially under pressure. Experience and formal certification increase your ability to compete in the event planning job market.