Meeting planners organize conventions, trade shows and large meetings of professional associations and other groups. The job includes locating a site - usually a convention facility or large hotel - and reserving the space, usually two years in advance. Meeting planners handle all the details, including negotiating the building contract, ordering prepared meals and services from the catering division, preparing written materials, badges and a database for participants, allocating the use of break-out rooms, organizing the meeting schedule, etc.
Meeting planners come from varied backgrounds and levels of education. Some administrative assistants who start out organizing small meetings for a firm become professional meeting planners. Today most meeting planners have a bachelor's degree of some sort; as contracts for space and services have become more complex the job now requires skills beyond an aptitude for detail-oriented organization.
There were about 51,000 professional meeting planners working in the U.S. in 2006. Many were employed by hotels and convention centers; others worked for trade show service companies and for organizations that present several large annually.
This profession is going to grow faster than the anticipated growth rate for jobs overall. One of the driving forces behind the expansion of large meetings is the globalization of corporations and markets, which puts added value on events where businessmen can meet their foreign counterparts.
Lowest 10% $27,450
Median Salary $44,260
Highest 10% $74,610
Source: U.S. Department of Labor