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Beyond the Basics – Certifications, Accreditations, and Industry Knowledge

September kicks off the back-to-school season, but education isn’t just applicable to grade school and college students or tied to a standard classroom setting. All professions can benefit from a refresher course in their area of expertise from time to time. If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that the destination event industry is in a constant state of evolution and staying up-to-date on industry standards is a necessary part of the curriculum. You’ve already excelled in your Gen-Eds, but there are countless extra-credit courses, accreditations, certifications, and continuing education seminars that can help professionals advance in their careers at any stage. Whether you’re just getting started in the industry or a seasoned professional, there’s a certification with your name on it. Take your seats; class is in session.

With many organizations offering continued education opportunities, deciding which one to invest in can be challenging. We have compiled a list of accredited organizations that provide education in the areas that appeal to you. Keeping your designation up-to-date and valid gives you greater self-confidence in business decisions, teaches invaluable skills that will help you stand out in the job market, and helps you grow your network and earn new business.

If you’re starting out in the industry or a seasoned professional, you can find plenty of education geared towards you. For professionals working in conventions and trade shows, a CEM or Certified Exhibition Management designation is noted as the highest professional standard in the events management and exhibitions realm. This designation can be completed in 9 courses, virtually or in person. For those looking to beef up their knowledge in special events, a CSEP, or Certified Special Events Professional, recognizes event professionals who harness the skills and knowledge required to excel in every component of a special event. This designation is also globally recognized, so you can showcase your talents worldwide. Here are a few reputable resources to help you take your career in conventions and trade shows to the next level.

  • IAEE (International Association of Exhibitions and Events)
  • PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association)
  • HSMAI (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International)
  • ASAE (American Society of Association Executives)
  • ESPA (Events Service Professionals Association)

Becoming a part of a professional community that focuses on developing skills, gaining knowledge, and connecting with like-minded peers is an invaluable investment in your career and your fulfillment. For accreditations that encompass a multitude of professions, there are many national and international certifications and meetings you can attend. Here, we have compiled a handful of associations and meetings you can join to expand your versatility within your field. Most of these resources also offer certifications, including the Certified Meeting Professionals (CMP) program which is the most widely recognized designation in the meetings industry.

  • MPI (Meeting Professionals International)
  • NCBMP (The National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals)
  • SITE (Society of Incentive and Travel Excellence)
  • NACE (National Association for Catering and Events)
  • ILEA– (International Live Events Association)

Several associations and industry foundations and organizations for offer education in specific industries (IE financial services and insurance) while others provide robust research and valuable studies for meeting professionals. They also provide online and in-person education and networking opportunities.

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