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Event Management Jobs: How to Turn Your Passion into a Living

Doris Benitez
Reading time: 6 min

It is true that most event managers choose event management jobs because they’re passionate about events and love being part of this exciting industry. Although this means intense intrinsic rewards such as being an integral part of each successful event, recognition of a job well done – personally, and from peers and other professionals – those aren’t the only rewards!

In this fast-growing sector, potential earnings also present exciting enticements into event professional roles – especially for event managers who show flair, imagination and creativity, and can offer an array of skills and sought-after talents.

Want to know more? Event specialists at Event Academy share some insights about what can influence your potential income. This will help you ascertain whether your passion for events can translate into a stable livelihood with strong financial and career-related rewards.

Income influences

  • Starting point

Whilst it’s natural to expect a lower tier salary when starting out in a new profession, Justine Kane, Event Academy Course Director, identifies that negotiating your starting point may be possible if you’re offering potential employers what they need: a work-ready events professional with industry-relevant qualifications and in-role experience.  Although this might allow space for negotiating starting salaries above the apprentice level for newbies to the industry, Justine’s clear that this does depend very much on the type of qualification, the extent of experience and of course the potential employer: “that’s really on a case by case level” she warns.

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To help find out where to pitch yourself when negotiating a starting salary, Justine recommends checking in with ESP Recruitment. It’s annual salary survey demonstrates what a competitive salary in UK event management looks like’ across the various event industry verticals – including the not-for-profit, agency and commercial sectors – across which salaries vary significantly! ESP’s useful salary checker tool will also let you know if the figure being offered to you is competitive. This can be a useful indicator of potential minimums and maximum salaries for specific events roles.

  • Location link

Your geographical location will have an impact on the annual salary sum that you may be entitled to. According to Payscale.com, Event Manager salaries in the UK average £25,758. However, apply filters to change the location to London and the average shoots up to just under £30,000 a year, in contrast to say Cardiff, which shows an average salary of just over £18,000.

So when it comes to getting paid, it may additionally pay to establish yourself in a major city, and particularly London, which Justine describes as “the epicentre of the events world”.

  • Extra for experience?

A quick glance at the National Careers service website shows the impressive salary range for event management roles, as follows:

  • Starter salaries £17,000 – £21,000
  • Experienced: £25,000 – £40,000
  • Highly experienced: £50,000 to £80,000

So do you notice the common factor that will help you climb up the income ladder? Experience!

  • Motivation and mindset

Chirag Patel, Event Academy alumni now a freelance Production and Content Manager also recognises the difference that experience can make for gaining higher paying roles in the industry and opportunities to move quickly through pay scales.  And as his own career has progressed, he has learnt that there are other variables that impact salary growth. the motivation and mindset to succeed.

“It’s possible [to achieve top salaries] but you’ve got to want it,” he shares. “You’ve got to have the drive and ambition and, if you have this, your prospects are great for a very fruitful career in the future.”

  • Growing demands

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Lorne Armstrong, Director at Event Academy, recommends would-be event managers look closely at their current scope of skills (and can continue to develop as a specialism) alongside the sectors within the industry which are growing. When a sector suddenly takes off, there’s a real demand for the right talent and leads to gaps where candidates with the right skills fail to emerge quickly enough. These gaps offer rewards, better salaries and job opportunities for those who are able to fill them. In Lorne’s experience, this lately applies to tech talent and digital aspects of events:

“Brands, businesses and organisations need someone who’s able to fill this hole that they have, particularly from pulling digital into live [engagement] – that’s a really important piece. If you can do that then you can probably get a job, no problem.”   

  • Specialist skills

As Lorne’s experience shows, sometimes it’s having sought-after skills which can be used across event sectors which can add pounds to your passion – and professional profile. The National Careers Service also makes this clear in their event manager profile page:

“Your salary may include bonuses and commission, particularly if the job involves sales and marketing.”

So if you want to improve your earning potential, building specialist skills (for instance in event technology, use of social media for promotion, in marketing) or gaining qualifications which reflect these, such as Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) accredited qualifications, might not only boost your skills and knowledge, but also your earning potential.

And the even better news is that you don’t have to be a full time employee or part of a specific industry to reap such benefits: you can establish yourself as a freelancing powerhouse as well. This has certainly been Chirag’s experience. As a freelance events professional, he has discovered that his augmented technical skills have earned him plenty of additional opportunities and income:

“If you’re interested in the production side, “ he explains “there are opportunities to veer towards that because agencies will have people they bring in: in-house or out of house […] a lot of people are brought in as freelancers because no one can afford to have everyone on their payroll, so they [these professionals] move from job to job.”

Balancing the books

It’s important though to remember that we’re talking about event management here – and event management salaries aren’t all about the numbers. Whilst all jobs involve you trading your knowledge and skills for a salary, you’re also trading your time. In the world of events, time is a precious commodity that must be factored in during salary negotiations.

Whilst some event roles (especially the higher paid consultancy roles) may involve standard office hours-they are few and far in between. The majority of event management roles particularly involve working unsocial hours in the build up to an event and may be influenced by client needs. For example, a wedding planner might expect to work many unsocial hours in order to meet clients after their own working days, whilst also working standard hours to facilitate meetings with vendors and suppliers.

So whatever salary you might be offered, consider the schedule demanded by the role, as much as its job description, so that you get to retain your passion, as well as your pay prospects. After all, event management jobs may not be for everyone.