Since 1957, the Professional Convention Management Association, or PCMA, has been an influential force in promoting student programs and professional careers. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the association currently has 17 chapters in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Today, this non-profit organization sets the standards for convention management curricula, fosters career development through ongoing training programs, and supplies resources and networking opportunities for its members. As a result, the Professional Convention Management Association is a valuable support system for convention industry workers across business sectors.

Educational Standards for Convention Management Careers

Programs for convention management degrees usually have affiliation with the Professional Convention Management Association and benefit from resources obtained through the association’s Education Foundation. This foundation supports educational curricula for meeting management degrees through grants and fund-raising events. Monies received go towards education initiatives, research into best practices, and student scholarships. The foundation also provides access to educational materials such as textbooks and study materials.

While some job candidates for convention management positions may hold associate degrees in hospitality or related majors, most employers seek graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree through marketing, business, or hospitality programs. These degrees are then further specialized in convention management, event planning, or hospitality leadership. Potential topics of study endorsed by the Professional Convention Management Association include:

  • Staff and resource management.
  • Accounting and finance applications.
  • Marketing and advertising strategies.
  • Services coordination for small- and large-scale events.
  • Food, beverage and hotel accommodations.
  • Customer service.
  • Advanced communication strategies.

Certification Prep Program

In addition to providing guidance for educational programs, the Professional Convention Management Association also offers the only officially endorsed study program for obtaining the Certified Meeting Professional designation awarded by the Convention Industry Council. The certification requires 70 clock hours of continuing education credits or comparable coursework emphasizing best practices in the convention management field coupled with at least two years of job experience. Since CMP certification demonstrates expertise in the field and commitment to the profession, this credential benefits professionals seeking career advancement. To that point, the average, annual salary of a non-CMP professional in a 2014 survey was $71,042 compared to $81,515 for those who held the certification.

Professional Programs, Networking and Resources

Beyond earning the CMP certification, continuing education units (CEUs) help professionals stay on top of their game with regard to the latest industry standards. The Professional Convention Management Association offers multiple ways to earn CEUs, from face-to-face, peer networking events to online webinars and content courses. Employers often fund costs associated with ongoing training and encourage employees to take advantage of keeping abreast of current trends, such as networking etiquette or how to avoid information overload during convention presentations. Other resources available to association members include job boards, internship possibilities, access to updated versions of professional publications, notifications of networking events and a full subscription to Convene magazine, the leader in convention management information.

The association’s mission has stayed true to its original intent to foster the growth of the convention management profession. It remains highly regarded for the education, training, resources and networking opportunities it offers its members. With the continued support of the PCMA, students and professionals in the convention management field are sure to enjoy cutting-edge, sustainable careers.