The Journey to Becoming a CMP

The CMP: A Personal & Professional Journey

When it comes to the event & meetings industry, it’s all about education. As professionals, we have an obligation to keep up with industry trends so that we can provide the best service for our company, employer, members, and attendees.

One industry designation that stands out in the crowd is the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP).

If you want the textbook definition, the CMP designation (from Convention Industry Council or CIC) is the “foremost certification of the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry; and the program recognizes individuals who have achieved the industry’s highest standard of professionalism. Established in 1985, the CMP credential benefits meeting professionals through:”

  • Recognition: As the premier industry certification, the CMP distinguishes holders as career professionals who have demonstrated a high level of experience, skill, and knowledge.
  • Competitive Advantage: The designation conveys credibility to a meeting professional’s opinions and ideas, both at work and in the greater meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry.
  • Peer Acceptance: CMPs are immediately recognized by other CMPs as fellow professionals committed to the advancement of the profession.
  • Salary Enhancement: CMPs can use the certification as a competitive advantage when it comes to negotiating salaries and other business.
  • Personal Achievement: After passing a rigorous application and examination process, CMPs express a profound sense of personal achievement at finally being regarded as the exceptionally skilled professional they are.
  • Commitment: Successful completion of the certification process conveys that the certified meeting professional is committed and goal driven in their career.

The reasons behind earning the CMP designation is different for everyone. Your own reasons may not even be listed above. What can it do for you? Will your employer recognize the significance?  The downside of our industry is that many available jobs that include meeting or event planning are still listed under Administrative/Clerical – which unfortunately means that employers can justify lower starting salaries.  This varies from area to area and state to state.  Thankfully, more and more employers are requiring those that handle events for their companies have the CMP designation! That’s great news!

Plan Events Seamlessly

Every single one of us can think of someone who as an Administrative Professional is given the duty of planning meetings – without any prior experience or training.  It just becomes part of your job. Maybe that person WAS you – because it used to be me. 12 years ago, I was hired as the Office Manager/Administrative Assistant for a nonprofit trade association, and found myself, like many of  us do in the nonprofit world, with several responsibilities that just don’t fit the job description.  Anyway, two years later I was put in charge of handling the events; a responsibility I eagerly sought out, but what did I know about planning a conference? Very little, other than being enthusiastic and detail oriented (two great skills!).  Could I know more? Absolutely. Would knowing more benefit our members? Our attendees, speakers, AV company, vendors, suppliers, etc.?  You bet it would!

In March 2007, I took the bull by the horns and joined Meeting Professionals International, the Northeastern New York Chapter, because one of the many benefits to joining the local chapter was access to free CMP study groups and a number of experts in the industry.

Of course, things never stay the same! In 2009, Convention Industry Council (CIC) partnered with MPI (see MPI and CIC to Partner on Enhancement of CMP Credential) and in January 2010 a new and improved application process was released.  But that’s a good thing, it means we are keeping up with the evolving world of events! The industry changes continuously, we need to be prepared.

I am proud to have earned the designation, although for me it did not equal a monetary reward; there is still a long way to go to educate employers in my area about the benefits of hiring meeting professionals and especially those who are CMP’s.  The reward for me was very personal, I felt that it took my career to the next level and made me stand out as an industry leader.  I have been told on many occasions that when “CMP” follows your name, suppliers and vendors feel more secure doing business with you, because they are doing business with a meeting professional who understands the industry.

So should you jump on this bandwagon? I say go for it.  There’s nothing to lose, only everything to gain.  Those of us with this coveted designation bring a higher level of professionalism, connections and quality to the job – which benefits the company in ways they may not have realized yet. Suppliers, especially hotels, take CMP’s more seriously, industry options open up, you bring more to the table and you have a better working knowledge of the industry.

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Plan Events Seamlessly