Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question? These are our most commonly asked questions and their answers.

Special Events Institute brings together the best of 2 worlds: the convenience of an online platform with the depth and prestige of an educational institution. Our online format allows us to offer the most up-do-date resources and information on event planning techniques. You get to work when and where it’s most convenient for you. Instructor driven courses provide feedback, support and expert advice during your learning process. Our forum brings event enthusiasts together from all over the world to share, learn and support. We arm you with resources and learning tools including textbooks, media, lessons, presentations, forums, chats and case studies. And, the curriculum has been developed by an award-winning industry luminary and published author  – sharing tips and expertise to help others start out on the right footing.

Our five-course certificate program is the esteemed Winner of Best Industry Contribution from the International Special Events Society (ISES).

Courses run for 8 weeks. To complete the Certificate in Special Event Planning, it will take approximately 1 year. Courses will run every 9 weeks, with a break in July/August so new comers can enter when they are ready.

We offer you 3 different education options:

  1. You can choose to take one or more course(s) individually.
  2. You can take our Special Event Planning certificate program which offers you the full five-course program. This is our most popular option.
  3. We also offer specialty courses for seasoned planners, like the Weddings or Academic Events, which you can purchase individually.

To find out about our pricing packages, please visit our Enroll Now page.

The program offers a robust learning experience – reading valuable textbooks, working on exercises to practice the material, completing case studies to work through scenarios that you may face as a planner, interacting with other students and professionals in learning forums, completing assessments to show your mastery of the topics. Through the development process, an 8-week schedule allows for students to set aside 8 -10 hours a week to complete the material. There is no easy button available to truly learn the topics – just time and effort. The way Special Events Institute is presented is fun and enjoyable – you will miss the interaction when the course is over!
One of the benefits of the online format is forum discussions, posts and responses. This takes interaction from students (much like an event team), so it’s important that students in a class move through the course as a team. It’s a real life example of how you will work as an event director, specialist, or team member so it’s a great way to start your career off!
Mickie Rops, a widely regarded credentialing adviser describes Curriculum-based Certificate (also called assessment-based certificates):
 A comprehensive training program on a focused topic for which participants receive a certificate after completion of the coursework and successful demonstration of attaining the course learning objectives.
Unlike certification, curriculum-based certificates usually do not have ongoing requirements, do not result in an initial designation, and cannot be revoked. In certification, the focus is on the assessing current knowledge and skills. In a certificate, the focus is on training individuals to achieve a certain knowledge and skill base.
 The training and assessment usually cover a focused area of knowledge and skills.
 There are usually no ongoing requirements to maintain a certificate; they are more like educational degrees that are granted and never revoked. Some associations do date the certificate, however, so individuals retake the course at certain time intervals.
 According to an Oct. 25, 2004 article in Meeting News magazine, Tyra Hilliard, assistant professor of event and meeting management at George Washington University states, “Earning a certification means you have already achieved a certain standard, and you often have to have a certain amount of experience to even apply. With certificate programs, often anyone can enrol, and it’s more about obtaining a new body of knowledge.” The International Special Events Society offers more information on their website. Here a summary from their site:
 People are always asking us, “What’s the difference between certification and a certificate?” So, to assist you in communicating with your colleagues and clients and to help avoid confusion in the marketplace, we have provided you the comparison below.
 As the premier organization for Event Professionals, ISES certifies special event professionals through the Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) designation. Unlike many certificate programs being offered by colleges and private educational opportunities, the CSEP program is practice-based. It is not intended to teach individuals how to effectively become event professionals. Rather, it is designed to measure an individual’s “knowledge-in-use” – the application of knowledge and skills by those with real-life experience in this role.
For the best experience, we recommend that you enroll at least 2 weeks prior to the start of the term. This will allow you to order your textbooks, complete any online tutorials and be ready for classes to begin.
Possible jobs include an event manager at a venue, event planner for a company, or a self-employed event or wedding planner.  Here’s a list of where some of our students and graduates work: Bacardi Limited, The Bounce Music Festival, City of Pasadena, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Hoopla Events, Luck Companies, North Carolina BioTech Center, University of Utah, United Healthcare, Virginia Arts Festival to name a few.
A 2012 survey by Meetings & Conventions Magazine shows the income for Association Planners – $77,220, Corporate Planners – $75,956 and Independent Planners – $80,487. Salaries for event and meeting planners have been rising at 3 – 4% over the last 2 years. Men tend to make more than women, those with advanced degrees or certifications make even more (up to $18,000 more). THe US Dept. Labor shows a Median of $45, 810 and the top ten percent of planners earn over $79,270. The lowest 10% make $26,560 annually. This does not include independent planners who have the opportunity to take on multiple projects and bill accordingly.
You’ll have the tools to plan events the right way. You’ll want to brush up on how to start a business in your area, and hone your management and business skills to get started on the right foot. Stay tuned – we’ll be offering a workshop on Starting your Own Event Planning Business soon!
You’ll be watching a tutorial to get you ready for your online course experience. Here are some tips on taking an online course. 1. Order your books and take the tutorials on MS Office to brush up on your skills. 2. Plan ahead each week for your readings and assignments. Set aside 2 – 4 hours to get your work done and interact with your instructor and fellow classmates. 3. You’ll be asked to share and create. Be thoughtful on your forum postings and assignments. Read other students work and learn from your classmates.
There are students from all over the world! Some are currently working in the corporate and academic setting, for communities and private companies. There are students that are just starting in the industry and are setting their sights on employment in the industry and starting their own businesses. Some have families, some are just out of college or supplementing their college experience with specific study in event planning. All of our students are passionate about the industry and anxious to begin their journey at SEI!
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the US Dept. of Labor – the projected rate of change is better than average (avg. 14%) at 44% growth.

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