You've seen the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation on business cards and in email signatures, but is earning your CMP certification worth it? If you are looking to earn more money, the answer is “yes.”
For meetings professionals, the CMP certification, which is recognized as the gold standard for the industry, can mean a higher salary. In fact, according to the Professional Convention Management Association’s 2013 salary survey, professionals with a CMP earn approximately $14,000 more per year than those without a CMP.
“The exam is much more than a measurement of competency in the field,” according to Karen Kotowski, CAE, CMP, CEO of the Convention Industry Council. “It defines the character and values shared by CMPs—a strong work ethic, dedication to learn and ambition to be the best. And perhaps most important, the ability to adapt to industry trends, technology and responsibilities. These traits make CMPs marketable and sought after.”
What Are the Requirements?
The Convention Industry Council (CIC) introduced the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) program in 1985 to establish industry standards and raise the bar for the profession, Kotowski explains.
The CMP Program is based on the CMP International Standards (CMP-IS), which are 10 domains that comprise a body of knowledge that meeting professionals must have in order to be successful as determined by an ongoing group of experts working in the field.
To become certified, a meeting professional must pass the CMP certification exam, which is based on the CMP International Standards. Additionally, to be eligible to take the CMP exam, which is administered in January, May, August and November, you must have at least 36 months of experience in the meeting industry and demonstrate 25 hours of continuing education activities.
Studying for the Exam
First and foremost, the CIC recommends reviewing the CMP International Standards and then studying what you don’t know. There is a reading list and practice exams, and some meetings associations offer study groups. There is an online study option in the form of the CIC-endorsed PCMA Online Prep Course, a 23-module interactive course—and the only official online course for the CMP exam.
Meeting Professionals International (MPI) supports the Convention Industry Council’s CMP program and offers a variety of resources for industry professionals to help achieve their certification. One such option is to participate in a study group facilitated by an MPI chapter. For test-takers who want to study on their own, MPI also sells most of the recommended reference materials at a discounted rate for MPI members.
David Wellington Finch, CMP, vice president of business development for Austin-based event management agency Experience, received his certification 15 years ago but says he wishes he had done it even sooner, as it has provided great networking and professional development opportunities.
“I think certain doors open that otherwise would be unknown, such as professional education sessions and roundtable discussions, some of which are open only to CMPs,” Wellington says.
Finch adds that having the designation has reinforced his self-confidence to take on leadership roles in the events industry. “In today’s job market, requirements for most positions now say CMP preferred or required, so why not give yourself that extra boost,” Finch says.
Finally, Finch advises that the resources available from networking between CMPs are invaluable and can often be a catalyst for the next phase of your career. “From professional contacts and relationships that begin as early as study groups, to all those that will continue to develop among this peer group, this is the people part of the business I love the most.”