Conference and exhibition manager

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Conference organiser

Conference and exhibition managers plan and run events like trade shows, conferences and exhibitions.

Salary range: £17,000 to £80,000

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How to become a conference and exhibition manager

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • volunteering
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University

You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in events management or hospitality management, although it’s not essential.

These university courses often include work placements, which will help you get practical experience and develop contacts in the industry.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

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College

You could do a college course, for example:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Event Planning
  • Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Event Management
  • Level 3 Diploma in Live Events and Promotion

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

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Apprenticeship

You could get started in the conference and events industry through an events assistant advanced apprenticeship or a hospitality management higher apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

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Work

You could begin as an administrator or marketing assistant with a conference management company, possibly through temporary work. As your experience grows, you may be able to take on more responsibility for organising events.

Volunteering and experience

Doing paid or unpaid work as a steward at large events or exhibitions can be useful for building up contacts in the industry. This is a good way to hear about jobs, as many are not advertised.

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Career tips

Employers will usually look for relevant experience and strong transferable skills like organising, budget management and marketing. Any experience you have in hotel conference and banqueting, travel, sales, PR or fundraising can be especially useful.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in conferences, exhibitions and events from the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • leadership skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • customer service skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • publicising events
  • booking venues, equipment and visiting speakers
  • overseeing the design and printing of tickets, posters and publicity material
  • planning the running order of events
  • supervising and paying exhibition designers and caterers
  • working closely with venue staff
  • handling enquiries
  • selling stand space to exhibitors
  • arranging sponsorship

Working environment

You could work in an office, at a client’s business or at a venue.

Your working environment may be physically active and you may spend nights away from home.

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Career path and progression

You could work for an events management company, exhibition venue or marketing department of a large organisation. With experience, you could take on bigger events and move into management.

You could also set up your own consultancy.