A conference manager plans, organizes, and oversees a conference to ensure that it goes smoothly. It is typically most important that you have related skills and experience when you want to pursue this career. For example, skills in organizing and planning as well as managing an event or conference planning are usually critical. Some employers seek candidates with degrees in such fields as business or hospitality, but a degree isn't always necessary. Additionally, you may choose to start a conference management business of your own, which will usually require business licensing.
There isn't a set educational degree that is required for a person who wants to become a conference manager. Most employers will require candidates to have at least a high school diploma, and many prefer to hire candidates who have college degrees in fields such as business, hospitality, finance, or management. If an employer does require a degree, however, a bachelor's is usually sufficient. If you hope to become an independent conference manager rather than an employee, your degree may matter less, as most clients are unlikely to question you about it.
Your experience may prove critical when you want to become a conference manager. In most cases, you will need experience working with others as well as in leading others and organizing people and events. For example, if you've worked in a hospitality-related field or a business position in the past, such experience may suffice to help you land the job. Previous sales and customer service experience may prove helpful as well. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that paid work experience isn't all that matters when you want this type of job — internships and volunteer experiences can also help you toward this goal.
The skills and qualities you possess may also matter a great deal when you want to become a conference manager. You will typically need excellent management skills as well as good communication and interpersonal skills. Scheduling and organizational abilities are important, as are negotiation and sales skills. An in-depth understanding of the inner workings of conferences of various sizes is also crucial. Additionally, problem-solving skills are usually a must due to the fact that the unexpected frequently happens in the midst of planning or conducting a conference.
If you plan to become a conference manager as an independent contractor instead of as an employee, you will likely need a business license to begin work in this field. You will also need a sound plan for advertising your business and attracting clients. Additionally, most new clients will expect you to have references. You can obtain these from previous employment or internships, or even by volunteering to assist a conference manager who is working on a project that interests you.