However big the boom though, if you’re considering a career in event management it’s important to realise that there are several factors which can considerably influence your chances of employment and affect your chance of earning top salaries in your career.
The bottom line is that your opportunities relate strongly to your own skills, what kind of event management job you do and what type of employer you end up doing it for.
For many other careers (for example administration or HR) prospective candidates might make a straight choice between working in the private or public sectors, and within those maybe an extra decision as to whether to work in the profit-making or charitable sector. The role of an event manager is relevant within all of these sectors and also extends to working freelance for an events agency on a project-by-project basis, which could see you working within any and all of these sectors in the space of a month.
Overall, unless you take the freelance route, you may find yourself making a conscious decision over which type of sector you want to event manage in. When you consider the difference between organising an event for an animal charity in comparison with organising a team building event for bankers, it’s quite important that at some point in your career you consider which sectors and role types are best aligned with your skills, experience, and empathies. Taking an event management course which offers various work experience placements across such sectors can really help you to identify your options and preferences in relation to this.
Whilst many prospective event organisers actually start a career in the events industry for the buzz of being with people and to be able to use their organisational and multi-tasking strengths at their very best, extreme levels, the salary angle can also be quite attractive. But just as all event jobs are different, salary for the numerous roles within varying remits of the industry (such as charity events, corporate events or media events) can differ considerably.
In some cases managers aren’t necessarily even paid a straight salary but instead receive a project or event related amount, with bonuses aligned to numbers or success once the event is held.
Of course, there are averages and £25 – £26,000 seems to the average salary for a UK Event Manager with up to 20 years’ experience (averages include early career event assistant salaries of approximately £17 – £18,000 and experienced event manager salaries of up to approximately £37,000 per annum).
For those who remain in the industry for more than 20 years, there is quite a divergence of prospects. Those with excellent reputations and track records of innovation and success in organising events can find themselves earning significant salaries of up to £50,000 (but only within certain niches, such as corporate event management). Those working freelance or in other niche areas, such as the public, charity or media sectors may find that even after 20 years, their salaries do not rise much more than the average.
Salary, promotion and actual job availability in the events industry may also vary significantly according to location. With the current trend for large-scale events in internationally renowned cities such as London, salaries and employment opportunities can be considerably better there than other parts of the UK, including other major cities.
For example, event management salaries in London are up to 15% above average, whilst in Manchester and Glasgow they can be 5% and even 11% less than the average, respectively, so it seems that being flexible about where you build your event management career can certainly make a difference to your salary, as well as your prospects.
Just as experience is something employers are looking for, any and all experience you have in event planning will help you to make decisions about the type of event planner you want to be and therefore the type of employment you’re looking for, for example, children’s events, wedding planner or festival planner.
Particularly when you start out in event management, you may be unsure of the type of role you’re looking for. In this case, gaining experience will also help you build up those transferable skills and key competencies which are essential to any type of event management role, all of which will ensure you’re well equipped to take up a much wider choice of employment opportunities. These include key skills and competencies such as:
As with roles in careers outside of event planning, experience and qualification do help with accessing roles and particularly those on the higher pay scales. Although it’s possible to start off in event planning at a lower paid apprentice or events assistant level, the more experience you can offer (particularly in the form of event planning qualifications and a CV rich with volunteering and work experience) the more this will allow employers to see how your experience fits.
Finally, experience of this type (particularly volunteering and courses your working at in your own time and at your own expense) enables prospective employers see your passion for the role and your diligence in getting to know what’s involved … all of which enhance, not harm, your employment opportunities and prospects.