Programs and Certifications To Boost Your Career in Corporate Meetings & Events
September is back-to-school season – and that doesn’t just apply to traditional students in campus classrooms. The months between the end of the summer and the start of the holidays are also the perfect time for you to hit the books and further your career in destination management by earning a certification or two. Why, you ask?
Programs and certifications are important career-building tools in this industry. It says that you’re willing to take the extra step. Plus, it elevates you as a subject matter expert and illustrates your dedication to growing your career. Certifications can also put you at an advantage in job-seeking situations over other candidates who may not have the same credentials. (Plus, it’s a pretty cool flex to use in your email signature and on business cards.)
One of the biggest challenges in earning a certification is finding the right one. A seemingly endless list of options can make the selection process a daunting task – especially when a large price tag is involved. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the five helpful certifications for the meetings and events industry. Read on for insight on who they’re for, how they work, and what you can expect in the process.
1. DMCP: BEST FOR INDUSTRY-WIDE DMC RECOGNITION.
The Destination Management Certified Professional certification is awarded to professionals who understand and abide by best practices in the DMC industry. It’s designed for people who already have some related experience, as well as a combination of education and industry involvement. In the DMC industry, it’s the most widely recognized certification.
The application process has prerequisites, including a minimum of two years of experience, a current industry role, a number of core competencies, a resume, and recommendation letters. Certification is earned after passing a 150-question test that covers every aspect of the destination management industry. The DMCP certification is valid for five years.
2. CMP: BEST FOR PROFESSIONALS SPECIALIZING IN SPECIAL EVENTS, MEETINGS, CONVENTIONS, AND EXHIBITIONS.
The Meeting Professional certification is a global recognition for excellence in the meeting planning industry. This program is essential if you want to be seen as a best-in-class meeting planner – especially as client expectations are on the rise.
To qualify for CMP certification, you’ll need a minimum of two years of industry experience and 25 clock hours – that is, the total number of hours you’ll spend in training – of continuing education. This certification requires self-study and ends with a 165-question, multiple-choice exam.
Earning your CMP is about more than just elevating yourself as a subject-matter expert – it has financial benefits, too. According to recent figures, meeting planners with CMP certification earn nearly more per year than their non-certified counterparts.
3. CMM: BEST FOR MEETING STRATEGY AND LEADERSHIP.
If you’re ready to take on a leadership role for meetings and other events, the Certified Meeting Manager certification might just be right for you. It’s a sister certification to the CMP, but rather than focusing on meeting logistics, the CMM leans into strategy and planning.
The coursework for this program covers executive-level topics like process improvement, operational performance analysis, finance, profit forecasting, negotiation strategies, and other leadership skills. To be eligible for the program, you’ll need a few years of industry experience under your belt – at least seven years, to be more specific, with three in management and two in profit and loss.
The CMM program is a three-phase, 15-week intensive executive program that many compare to grad school. In fact, it’s offered through the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. If you register for this course, prepare to spend some valuable time in the study hall.
4. CDME: BEST FOR DESTINATION LEADERSHIP ROLES.
The Destination Management Executive designation is the highest individual certificate possible for the destination tourism industry. Like the CMM, it’s geared toward senior executives with a focus on C-suite responsibilities like vision, strategy, and leadership.
The curriculum includes four core courses, a number of elective courses, and a final exam. The ideal applicants are experienced destination professionals who want to further their knowledge and application of industry standards as set by Destinations International. Although not required, it’s recommended that applicants are currently employed by a destination organization and have at least three years of experience.
Classes are small and include a mix of reading assignments, case studies, workshops, small group discussions, and more. Once enrolled, you’ll have four years to complete the program.
5. CSEP: BEST FOR EVENT PLANNERS AND ORGANIZERS.
The Special Events Professional certificate is focused on all aspects of running a special event. Much like the CMP for meetings, the CSEP is the industry standard certificate for hands-on event planners.
Earning the CSEP certificate serves as a sign that its holder is credible, professional, and driven to not only meet current industry standards – but elevate them. It’s also an exclusive way to network with other CSEPs around the world.
Ideal candidates have an established career in the live events industry and are well-versed in all of an event’s roles and moving parts. If requested, applicants should be able to assemble and manage an event team.
BONUS: 4 TOP ASSOCIATIONS FOR NETWORKING.
One of the perks of becoming certified in your area of expertise is the opportunity to network with peers in your industry. On the downside, that can be a small circle. You can expand your connections beyond just your mutual contacts by joining larger organizations that welcome professionals in all roles.
These organizations all have national chapters and provide opportunities for networking and learning. Many of them also have local chapters if you’d like to make even more professional connections.
- Association of Destination Management Executives International (ADMEI) Benefits include education, global exposure to potential buyers, and prestige within the DMC industry.
- The National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) Membership includes access to the membership directory, volunteer leadership opportunities, news and information, and more than 40 local chapters across the U.S.
- Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Benefits of this “association for people who bring people together” include networking opportunities, education and certificate programs, and local chapters to meet others in your immediate area.
- International Live Events Association (ILEA) Members of ILEA gain access to an abundance of networking resources, including a Facebook group, member directory, and virtual meetups. Benefits also include local chapters, a career center, and members-only discounts.
In addition, be sure to check on localized industry groups, such as the LVHA (Las Vegas Hospitality Association) in Las Vegas or Heels & Handshakes in Nashville and Austin. In some cases, these local groups may offer stronger networking opportunities and higher attendance rates than the national groups.
For people who work in the meeting and events industry, these programs and certifications bring more than just monetary ROI. They set you apart from others in your field as a trusted leader, encourage conversations within your network, and show potential employers that you are more than ready to level up.