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The Truth About Becoming a Certified Meeting Professional

How would you like to make nearly $10,000 more than you currently earn?

According to the 2016 Convene Salary Survey, that’s the average salary difference between CMPs and non-certified planners. On average, certified planners made about $85,00 a year. Meanwhile, non-certified planners made around $76,500 a year.

That statistic alone might convince you to earn an official meeting planner certificate. But before you start taking planning courses, let’s go over a few basics.

How to become a certified meeting professional

The CMP designation is one of few certifications available in our industry (here are some of the others). It’s administered by Meeting Professionals Internation (MPI) and the Events Industry Council.

To earn the meeting planner certification, you must have several years of experience, and you need to pass an exam.

This program is the only way to become an official certified meeting planner. But it’s not your only option to boost your credentials. There are many other programs that will teach you about the industry. But you won’t earn those three letters.

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Let’s explore a few other certificate options for meeting planners and event professionals.

1. Industry-specific event planning certifications

Independent governing bodies (like the Convention Industry Council and some associations) offer industry-specific certifications. If you plan one type of event โ€ say, trade shows or weddings โ€ a more tailored certification might be a better fit.

Here’s one example: You can earn a Digital Event Strategist certification from the Digital Experience Institute. Candidates must complete an intensive period of study and pass an exam.

2. Professional certificates for meeting planning

Many industry associations offer courses that award other professional certificates, like the Certified Meeting Management (CMM) designation. The requirements to earn various event planning certificates can be quite different.

For example, to earn the CMM, you must:

  • Complete 25 hours of MBA-level classes with university faculty to learn executive leadership skills
  • Complete a final project
  • Have more than 7 years of industry experience

But not all professional certificate courses are so intense. For example, to earn the Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate (HMCC), you only need to complete four hours of study.

But there are limitations to these certificates. Many don’t allow you to put letters after your name. For others, you need to refresh your credentials every few years.

3. Continuing education certificates for event planners

Some universities or colleges offer continuing education certificates. For these programs, you typically need to complete homework and earn a passing grade on exams. You’ll also need to attend classes, either virtually or in person.

Some online portals, like EDX, allow you to audit courses for free and pay a little extra for an official certificate of completion. If you pay this fee, you might be able to apply college credits toward an undergraduate or graduate degree.

Several colleges and universities offer certificate programs in event planning and hospitality-related subjects. Do a Google search and you’ll see the options available.

Whatever the reasons you have, investing in yourself always pays off.

Why the certified meeting professional designation is worth it

We know that education can boost your salary, and that’s a huge perk in and of itself. But money isn’t the only reason to continue investing in your career and education.

  1. Some hotel and event management jobs require candidates have the CMP designation. By earning it now, you will be eligible for more jobs in the future.
  2. Certificates and certification increase your earning potential because they prove you’ve mastered skills necessary for your advancement at your current job.
  3. Continuing education helps you gain the skills you need for your next (better) job, even if you don’t normally use those skills in your day-to-day work.
  4. Education in current hot topics helps you remain relevant and sharp.
  5. It enhances your prestige among your peers (especially if you can add letters behind your name that they recognize).

If you’ve decided on becoming a CMP, take a look at these resources to help you get there:

How to Study for the Certified Meeting Professional Exam
The CMP: A Personal & Professional Journey
Certified Meeting Professional vs. Certified Meeting Manager

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Have more questions about the Certified Meeting Planner certification?

What is the CMP exam?

The CMP exam is the second half of the Certified Meeting Planner application process, and is meant to enhance the knowledge of meeting professionals.

How do you become a CMP?

Work 36 months full-time in the meeting industry, and undergo 25 hours of continuing education within a 5-year period. If you have a degree in event management or hospitality, you only need to work 24 months. Submit the CMP application, and pass the exam to become a CMP.

How many questions are on the CMP exam?

There are 165 multiple choice questions and 150 operational questions, divided in the following categories: Meeting and event design, site management, marketing, financial and contract management, strategic planning, project management, risk management, human resources, and stakeholder management.

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