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Top 11 Meeting Planner Certifications

This article examines the top certifications for meeting planners and provides an overview of the requirements and benefits of each.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 19 min read

Certifications are important for meeting planners in the job market as they demonstrate a level of expertise and knowledge that employers look for when hiring. Certifications provide evidence that a meeting planner is qualified to handle specific tasks, such as event planning, budgeting, and marketing. They also show that the planner has taken the time and effort to learn about the industry and stay up-to-date on best practices. Having certifications can help meeting planners stand out from other applicants and give them an edge in a competitive job market.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Meeting Planners and explains how they can help to advance a Meeting Planner's career.

What are Meeting Planner Certifications?

Meeting planner certification is a professional credential that demonstrates an individual’s ability to plan and manage successful meetings. This type of certification is typically offered by organizations such as the Convention Industry Council and the International Association of Conference Centers. Meeting planner certification provides individuals with a set of skills and knowledge that can be used to plan, organize, and execute successful meetings. The certification process includes courses on topics like meeting budgeting, event marketing, vendor management, contract negotiation, catering and hospitality services, and risk management.

Having meeting planner certification can help individuals stand out in the competitive event planning industry. In addition to demonstrating expertise and experience in the field of event planning, the certification also signals to potential employers that an individual has taken initiative to gain additional knowledge and skills. Certification may also make it easier for professionals to find work in this field since many employers prefer candidates who have earned certifications from reputable organizations. Finally, earning meeting planner certification can open up opportunities for advancement within an organization or even new career paths in related fields such as marketing or public relations.

Pro Tip: When researching meeting planner certification programs, look for ones that include hands-on learning opportunities. This will give you a chance to practice the skills required for successful event planning and management in a real-world setting.

Related: What does a Meeting Planner do?

Top 11 Meeting Planner Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Meeting Planners today.

1. Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)

Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) is a professional certification program that recognizes the knowledge, skills and abilities of meeting and event professionals. It is the most widely recognized certification in the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry.

To become a CMP, individuals must have at least three years of full-time experience in the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry and pass an exam administered by the Convention Industry Council (CIC). The exam covers topics such as meeting management, marketing, finance, legal issues and technology.

The process to become a CMP takes approximately six months from start to finish. The first step is to complete an application with the CIC which includes providing proof of your experience in the industry. Once approved, you will be able to register for the exam. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within three hours. After passing the exam, you will need to submit additional documentation to prove your experience before being awarded your CMP designation.

The cost for becoming a CMP varies depending on where you live and how quickly you want to complete the process. The cost includes registration fees for both the application and exam as well as any study materials or courses you may choose to take in preparation for the exam. In total, it can range anywhere from $500-$1,000 USD depending on individual circumstances.

2. Certified Association Executive (CAE)

Certified Association Executive (CAE) is a professional credential offered by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). It is designed to recognize association professionals who demonstrate excellence in their field and have achieved a high level of knowledge, experience, and expertise. The CAE designation is recognized as the highest standard for association management.

To become a Certified Association Executive (CAE), an individual must meet certain criteria and pass an exam. To be eligible, applicants must have at least three years of full-time experience in association management or related fields, hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, and complete 60 hours of continuing education within the past five years.

The CAE exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as governance, finance, membership development, marketing, advocacy and public relations, technology, human resources management, meetings management, and strategic planning. The exam takes approximately four hours to complete.

The cost to take the CAE exam is $550 for ASAE members and $750 for non-members. The fee covers all costs associated with taking the exam including registration fees and study materials. In addition to the exam fee there are also annual dues which are currently set at $150 per year for those who have been awarded the CAE designation.

3. Certified Event Manager (CEM)

Certified Event Manager (CEM) is a professional certification program designed to recognize event professionals who have demonstrated the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to plan, manage and execute successful events. The CEM designation is awarded by the International Live Events Association (ILEA).

The CEM program consists of a comprehensive online course, an in-person exam, and an application process. The online course covers topics such as event planning, budgeting, marketing, risk management and more. It typically takes about two months to complete the course. Once completed, applicants must submit an application with supporting documentation for review by ILEA’s Certification Committee. Upon approval of their application, they will be invited to take the in-person exam at one of ILEA’s designated testing centers around the world.

The cost of the CEM program varies depending on whether you are an ILEA member or non-member. For members, it costs $1,250 USD for the online course plus $400 USD for the exam fee. For non-members it costs $1,650 USD for the online course plus $400 USD for the exam fee.

In order to maintain their CEM designation status, certified professionals must recertify every three years with continuing education credits or retake the CEM Exam.

4. Certified Meeting Planner (CMP)

Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) is an industry-recognized credential that demonstrates a professional’s knowledge, experience, and expertise in meeting and event planning. The CMP program was developed by the Convention Industry Council (CIC), which is an organization comprised of 25 leading organizations in the meetings, conventions, and exhibitions industry.

To become a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP), you must meet certain requirements, including having at least three years of full-time experience in the meetings, conventions, and exhibitions industry or five years of part-time experience. You must also pass an exam that covers topics such as budgeting, risk management, marketing and promotion, legal issues, site selection and contracts.

The process to become a CMP typically takes between 6 to 12 months depending on your current level of knowledge and experience. To begin the process you must first apply for the CMP program online through the CIC website. Once accepted into the program you will need to complete a series of courses designed to prepare you for the exam. After completing all required coursework you are eligible to take the CMP exam.

The cost for becoming a Certified Meeting Planner varies depending on your membership status with CIC. For non-members it typically costs $750 USD for application fee plus $450 USD for each course taken; however discounts may be available if you join one of the 25 member organizations prior to applying for certification.

5. Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP)

Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) is an internationally recognized certification program designed to recognize the professional standards of excellence in the special events industry. It is a voluntary certification that requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities in the field of special events planning and management.

To become a CSEP, applicants must meet certain educational and experience requirements, as well as pass a comprehensive exam. The exam covers topics such as event budgeting, marketing, contracts and legal issues, risk management, and more. Applicants must also complete a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education within two years prior to taking the exam.

The CSEP program is offered through the International Live Events Association (ILEA). To apply for the CSEP designation, applicants must submit an application form along with supporting documentation of their qualifications. Once approved by ILEA, applicants can then take the exam at any authorized testing center around the world.

The cost for applying for the CSEP designation varies depending on where you are located and what type of membership you have with ILEA (if any). In general, it costs around $400 USD to apply for the CSEP designation. This fee includes all necessary materials such as study guides and practice exams.

6. International Live Events Association (ILEA) Certification

The International Live Events Association (ILEA) Certification is a professional development program designed to help event professionals stay up-to-date on the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in the industry. It provides an opportunity for members to demonstrate their commitment to excellence and professionalism in their field.

To obtain ILEA Certification, applicants must complete an online application and submit it along with supporting documentation. The certification process typically takes about four weeks to complete, depending on the complexity of the application. Applicants must also attend a two-day ILEA certification workshop and pass a written exam.

The cost of obtaining ILEA certification varies depending on the type of membership chosen by the applicant. For non-members, there is a one-time fee of $1,500 USD; for members, there is an annual fee of $350 USD; and for lifetime members, there is no fee required.

ILEA Certification is recognized as an industry standard and provides event professionals with the knowledge they need to succeed in their field. It also offers networking opportunities and access to exclusive resources that can help them advance their career.

7. American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Certification

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Certification is a professional certification program designed to recognize association professionals who have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to successfully lead and manage an association. It is the highest level of recognition for association executives in the United States.

To earn ASAE Certification, an individual must demonstrate their knowledge in the areas of governance, management, finance, marketing and communications, technology and operations. To do this, applicants must pass a written exam that covers these topics as well as other related areas. The exam takes approximately two hours to complete.

In order to become certified, applicants must first meet certain eligibility requirements including having at least five years of experience managing or leading an association or similar organization. They must also be members of ASAE in good standing and submit an application form along with the appropriate fees.

The cost for ASAE Certification varies depending on whether you are already a member of ASAE or not. For non-members, the cost is $495 while members pay $395. This fee includes access to study materials and resources as well as the exam itself.

Once you have completed all of the requirements and passed your exam, you will receive your official ASAE Certification certificate and lapel pin which can be proudly displayed to demonstrate your commitment to excellence in association management.

8. Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Certification

The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Certification is a professional designation for meeting and event professionals who demonstrate the highest level of knowledge and experience in the field. It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved mastery in the areas of planning, logistics, marketing, finance, and technology associated with meetings and events.

It takes approximately two years to complete the PCMA Certification program. The program consists of four core modules that must be completed before certification can be awarded: Meeting Planning Essentials, Event Logistics & Operations, Meeting Marketing & Communications, and Financial & Technology Solutions. Each module requires a minimum of 40 hours of study time and includes online learning activities as well as practical application exercises.

To get PCMA Certification, you must first become a member of PCMA by applying on their website. After becoming a member, you will need to register for the certification program through PCMA’s Learning Portal. Once registered, you will have access to all four modules which can be completed at your own pace over two years or less.

The cost for the PCMA Certification program is $1,500 USD for members ($2,000 USD for non-members). This includes access to all four modules as well as one year of membership with PCMA.

9. International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Certification

The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Certification is a prestigious recognition of excellence in the meetings, events and conventions industry. It is awarded to organizations that demonstrate exceptional standards of quality, service and professionalism in their work.

The certification process takes approximately three months from start to finish. The first step is to complete an online application form, which includes providing information about your organization’s services, experience, and customer satisfaction ratings. Once the application has been submitted, ICCA will review it and contact you for further information if necessary.

Once the review process is complete, ICCA will issue a certificate of certification if the applicant meets all criteria. The cost of obtaining certification varies depending on the size of your organization and the number of people involved in the process. Generally speaking, it can range from several hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars.

In addition to obtaining certification, organizations must also maintain their standards by completing yearly audits and submitting reports on their performance each year. This helps ensure that certified organizations remain at the forefront of their industry.

10. Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Certification

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Certification is a professional designation that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to the meetings and events industry. It is an internationally recognized certification program that provides recognition of meeting professionals’ knowledge, skills, and experience in the field.

The certification process typically takes between six months and one year to complete, depending on the individual's prior experience in the industry. To become certified, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, including having at least three years of full-time work experience in the meetings and events industry; completing an approved course or program related to meetings and events; passing an exam; and submitting proof of continuing education credits each year.

To get started with the MPI Certification process, applicants must first register for the program by completing an online application form. The cost for registration is $200 USD plus applicable taxes. Once registered, applicants will be able to access study materials, take practice exams, and schedule their final exam date. Upon successful completion of the exam, applicants will receive their official MPI Certification badge and certificate.

11. Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) Certification

Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) Certification is a professional credential that recognizes professionals who have achieved excellence in the field of destination marketing. This certification is designed to help destination marketers demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in the areas of destination marketing, tourism, and hospitality.

To become DMAI certified, applicants must complete the Destination Marketing Professional (DMP) program. The program consists of four courses: Destination Marketing Fundamentals, Destination Branding & Positioning, Digital & Social Media Strategies for Destinations, and Measurement & Evaluation for Destinations. Each course requires approximately 8-10 hours of study time and can be completed at your own pace.

Once you have completed all four courses and passed the final exam with a score of 80% or higher, you will receive your DMAI Certification. The entire process typically takes 3-4 weeks to complete depending on how quickly you work through the material.

The cost for DMAI Certification is $595 USD which includes access to all four courses as well as the final exam.

Do You Really Need a Meeting Planner Certificate?

No, you do not need a meeting planner certificate to be a successful meeting planner. Meeting planners come from all walks of life and can be successful without the credential of a certificate. While having a certificate may demonstrate that you have taken the time to learn about the profession and are knowledgeable in certain areas, it is not necessary to become a successful meeting planner.

There are many resources available for those who want to become professional meeting planners, including books, websites, and seminars. These resources provide individuals with information on how to organize meetings, plan budgets, negotiate contracts, and coordinate with vendors. In addition, many universities offer courses on event planning and management which can provide an individual with additional knowledge and skills for success in this field.

In addition to these resources, networking is key for any aspiring meeting planner. Networking allows you to meet other professionals in the industry and build relationships that will help further your career. By attending conferences or joining industry associations, you can gain valuable contacts who may be able to offer advice or job opportunities as you progress in your career as a professional meeting planner.

Overall, while having a meeting planner certificate may be beneficial for some people looking to enter into this field of work, it is not necessary for becoming a successful meeting planner. With the right resources, networking opportunities and determination anyone can become an effective event coordinator or manager regardless of their qualifications or credentials.

Related: Meeting Planner Resume Examples

FAQs About Meeting Planner Certifications

1. What are the benefits of getting a meeting planner certification?

Answer: Meeting planner certifications provide recognition of the skills and knowledge required to plan successful meetings, as well as demonstrate your commitment to professionalism and continuing education. They can also help you stand out from other meeting planners in the industry and enhance your career prospects.

2. What qualifications do I need to become a certified meeting planner?

Answer: To become a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), you must have at least three years of experience in the meetings, conventions, or exhibitions industry, plus 25 hours of approved continuing education within the five-year period prior to application. You must also pass an exam administered by the Convention Industry Council.

3. What is the cost of getting a meeting planner certification?

Answer: The cost for taking the CMP exam varies depending on where you take it and whether you are an individual or an organization; however, it typically ranges from $325-$425 USD. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with obtaining continuing education credits or renewing your CMP designation after five years.

4. How long does it take to get certified as a meeting planner?

Answer: It typically takes between 4-6 months to complete all of the requirements for becoming a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP). This includes completing 25 hours of approved continuing education activities, submitting your application and documentation to the Convention Industry Council, and passing the CMP exam.

5. Are there any other certifications available for meeting planners besides CMP?

Answer: Yes! There are several other organizations that offer certifications for meeting planners such as the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) Certified Conference Manager (CCM), American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) Certified Meeting Planner (CMP), Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Certified Professional in Meetings Management (CPMM), and Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP) Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP).