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CMP Preferred

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Making the right hiring decision in any organization is crucial, as companies look to allocate their staffing dollars wisely and effectively. In the meetings industry, the Certified Meeting Professional designation sets the standard. The program recognizes people with a defined skill set and experience who have successfully completed a rigorous exam, ensuring employers a high level of knowledge, expertise, dedication and professionalism.

The Convention Industry Council, architect of CMP certification, says 14,000 professionals have achieved CMP status since the program’s inception 27 years ago, and several hundred are in the process. They work for large and small corporations, associations, suppliers, venues, academic institutions and independent planning firms, and are based in 51 countries.

"The CMP exam tests a candidate’s knowledge on all aspects of meetings management and demonstrates to the employer that the employee has attained that knowledge," said Convention Industry Council CEO Karen Kotowski. "Testing one’s knowledge is a truth teller and great equalizer. It demonstrates that the employee has a desire to learn, to improve and to take an active role in his or her own professional development."

Hilton Worldwide Inc. has maintained CMP designation as a core performance goal for all of its larger properties in the Americas for the past five years and continues to see success in the retention of top performers who are CMPs, according to Joyce Inderbitzin, Hilton’s Vice President Sales – Meetings and Convention Services – Americas. "As a longtime advocate, Hilton sees tremendous value in the hiring and promoting of event management team members that have achieved or are in the process of seeking to obtain the CMP designation," she said.

Inderbitzin also noted that Cary Bradley, Hilton’s Senior Director of Corporate Event Management for the Americas, serves as an active member of the CMP Board and "has worked vigorously to ensure the criteria, testing and recertification process meets the high standards expected of Hilton’s meeting and event planners."

New York based OppenheimerFunds Inc. has also made certification a priority within the organization. "We are supported at the executive level to work toward achieving certification in an area which defines excellence. In the meetings area, it is clearly the CMP," explained Meredith Wolff, Vice President and Head of Corporate Events. Wolff’s department has six full-time meeting planners, all of whom either have their CMP or are in the process of attaining it.

"Plain and simple – I wouldn’t have my current job without the CMP designation," said Kimberly Kreml, Manager of Conference Services and Facility Marketing at University Center of Lake County, Grayslake, IL. She said companies are more frequently taking the stance that "certified is always perceived as better – certified used cars, certified public accountant, certified advertising specialist, etc. Certification means we went a bit further – we tried a bit harder. I am referred to around the company more often as ‘the Certified Meeting Planner’ rather than my actual title."

A random scan of meetings industry job boards confirms the claim that employers are asking for CMPs during the hiring process. Consider this sampling of recent posts:

American Law Institute (Meeting/Event Planner), CMP strongly preferred
Fernley & Fernley Inc. (Meeting Manager), CMP strongly preferred 
International Trademark Association (Senior Planner, Meetings, Conventions & Events  Strategy), CMP preferred

"CMP Preferred." Much like a bachelor’s degree was once considered an admission ticket to professional prosperity, until it was slowly replaced by more advanced degrees, companies hiring meeting professionals today seem to view those three letters as the line of demarcation between being a professional and attaining a certain level of professional achievement. 

"I believe we are going the way where certification will be a professional requirement in a few years," said Inga Stephenson, Conference Service Manager at Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose, CA, and head of a committee at Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) Northern California Chapter devoted specifically to certification training. 

But, will a company have to pay a bit more to hire a CMP as opposed to a meeting planner without the designation? Possibly. According to a CMP Census Report conducted by the Convention Industry Council in November 2012, the average annual salary among CMPs, based on more than 2,800 responses, is $75,812, with 48 percent earning between $50,000 and $79,999.  Reliable salary estimates for the profession at large vary radically.  A 2012 salary survey by Meetings & Conventions magazine (with 339 respondents) finds the average planner salary at $77,227 and the average CMP salary (based on 97 responses) at $86,485.

Martin Sirk, CEO of the International Congress and Convention Association in Amsterdam  said his long-term support for CMP "is based on the perception that our global industry needs a universally recognized body of professional knowledge, and CMP is the only viable candidate program. It has become much more internationally relevant since its early days, so we encouraging participation by more of our members around the world."  


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The Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) is a
program of the Convention Industry Council

Convention Industry Council
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Tel: 571-527-3116
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