As a meeting and convention planner, you are under no obligation to become certified - and some meeting professionals indeed have long and successful careers without ever getting a credential. If you are new to the event and meeting industry, you may wonder if it is time to start working toward your CMP, and if you are a seasoned meeting planner or event producer already, you may want to know what benefits being a Certified Meeting Professional could offer you.
The CMP credential is much more than a rubber stamp - to be able to even apply to take the Certified Meeting Professional exam, you will need to have worked in the meeting and convention industry full time for at least 36 months, or 24 months if you also have a degree in event planning or hold a related hospitality degree. You will need to have undertaken 25 hours of ongoing professional education with the same five year period of time.
The CMP exam itself is also unabashedly challenging. In addition to 165 difficult multiple choice questions, people taking the Certified Meeting Professional exam will need to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise by answering grueling operational questions about meeting and event design, strategic planning, site management, marketing, project management, risk management, financial and contract management, stakeholder management, and human resources.
Many meeting professionals who are working toward their CMP dedicate countless hours of study to their ongoing professional development, in CMP study groups as well as on their own. Once you have your CMP credential, you will need to be recertified every five years to hold onto it.
Getting your Certified Meeting Professional credential is not something you do on a whim, then - but you have plenty of compelling and motivating reasons to place yourself on the path toward being a CMP.
Event planners and convention producers who have already decided that they want to get certified can choose from over a dozen different certifications overseen by as many governing bodies. Some, like the Certified Event Planning Specialist (CEPS) credential, are designed for those meeting professionals who are new to the industry. Others, such as the Certified Government Meeting Professional credential, are geared specifically toward those working within particular niches. Some meeting professionals will choose to pursue more than one credential.
The CMP credential is, however, easily the most widely recognized and prestigious professional certification for meeting professionals. Established in 1985 to raise professional standards within the meeting and events industry, the credential is held, today, by over 11,000 of your colleagues. A CMP is instantly recognizable not only by others within the field, but also by clients. It has, as such, become the gold standard within the event industry.
The Certified Meeting Professionals credential was created by and for meeting professionals as a badge of honor and excellence, and when you hold this globally-recognized certification, nobody in the industry will have any doubts about your level of professionalism and skill. The fact that this will enhance your status as a meeting professional and make networking significantly easier is a powerful motivator.
Whether you are looking for full-time employment or are working as an independent meeting and event planner, recruiters, employers, and potential clients alike have increasingly high standards - not surprising, given the fact that the meeting, event, and convention industry is valued at over US$80 billion. To put it differently, given the choice, would you hire an accountant with or without a CPA? Who would you trust more?
Employers and clients will know that they can rely on your knowledge and skills when you hold the CMP credential. That fact is rewarded, not only with more diverse career opportunities but also with higher annual earnings. Meeting professionals who have earned the Certified Meeting Professional credential can expect, on average, to make $10,000 more per year than their coworkers who are not (yet) certified.
Those meeting planners and event producers who have started to work in the field fairly recently, within the last five years, can be confident that they have transformed from novices into fully-fledged professionals and leaders within their field once they ace the CMP exam and become Certified Meeting Professionals. For experienced meeting professionals, receiving the CMP credential instead offers validation and recognition for your years of hard work.
The CMPs who have walked this road before you almost universally report that the many hours of study they put into getting their credential and the challenging exam they took offered a deep sense of accomplishment. Becoming a CMP will do the same for you, giving you the confidence you need to achieve your professional goals. Because getting your CMP is challenging, once you have it in your pocket, there will be absolutely no doubt that you earned it.
The CMP exam is bound to cover topics that you do not typically deal with in your day-to-day job, something you can welcome with open arms. By advancing your knowledge beyond its current scope, you will not only gain the skills you need to advance in your career and take on new and exciting projects, but also amplify your voice. In addition, every time you get recertified as a CMP, you ensure that you are up to date on all the latest industry trends, giving you a much-needed edge.
Once you begin studying for your CMP, there will be moments when you wish that you hadn't - the CMP application process and exam were not designed to be easy, and they hold you to the highest possible standards. Knowing that you will be able to place those prestigious letters after your name, and represent everything they stand for, makes it all worth it.