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The Ultimate Guide to Obtaining Your CMP Certification

Are you ready to increase your salary by an average of $10,756 with just a few simple steps? That's the power of becoming a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP). With expertise, credibility, and international recognition that...

Are you ready to increase your salary by an average of $10,756 with just a few simple steps? That's the power of becoming a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP). With expertise, credibility, and international recognition that come with this title, CMP experts are highly sought after in the event organization industry. This translates to higher salaries for those who can pass this exam. However, there are still many misconceptions about what the CMP certification is, who can take the CMP exam, and the content of this certification. Eventbrite has been working with event organizers for over 15 years and has gathered a wealth of information to help event creators organize better events and advance their careers. You can find all that information neatly organized in the comprehensive guide below on the CMP certification exam. Whether you're just starting in the event industry or a seasoned expert, you can grow your career by doing what top experts typically do: obtaining your CMP certification.

The Caverns / Drew Holcomb / Pelham, TN Illustration: A group of experts meeting

What is the CMP Certification?

CMP stands for Certified Meeting Professional. The CMP certification is the standard certification in the event management industry. To obtain this certification, you need to have professional experience, educational experience, and pass the CMP exam.

The CMP certification is managed by the Events Industry Council (EIC), a non-profit organization that consists of industry-related organizations. This certification has been in existence since 1985 and currently, there are over 11,000 people in 55 countries holding this certification according to EIC.

Why should you obtain the CMP certification?

As mentioned above, the CMP certification can significantly increase your salary. But there are other benefits to this certification as well. For example, you will learn how other event organizers have been able to double the number of event attendees in just a year - in this case, by leveraging the features provided by Eventbrite, a professional platform for event organizers.

The CMP certification is an internationally recognized professional certification, which means that if you move to a new area, searching for a new job and gaining trust from others will be much easier. It's like a quality stamp confirming that you are a competent expert. Just like knowing how to use Eventbrite, it's a strong point to add to your resume as an event organizer.

What is the CMP-HC Certification?

The Certified Meeting Professional - Health Care (CMP-HC) certification is a sub-specialty that you can obtain after passing the CMP exam. The CMP-HC certification focuses on events in the healthcare industry and the best practices related to them.

While you may also want to obtain the CMP-HC certification, it is only available for those who already have the CMP certification. This means that you should focus on one exam at a time, passing the CMP exam first.

CMP exam qualification requirements

How to Qualify for the CMP Exam?

With all those benefits, the CMP exam clearly seems appealing. However, unlike many other exams, you can't just study for it, pay a fee, and take it whenever you want. There are some basic requirements regarding professional experience and education to qualify for the exam.

Professional Experience

First and foremost, you need to demonstrate that you have working experience in a related industry. The EIC defines those industries as:

  • Event
  • Meeting
  • Exhibition
  • Travel
  • Tourism

Your work experience can be any combination of those industries, and it doesn't need to be continuous. For example, you could work in the tourism industry for 12 months and then, 2 years later, work in the event organization industry for another 12 months. That would count as a total of 24 months of relevant experience. The only limitation is that this experience must be within the past 5 years.

There are three ways to meet the professional experience requirement:

  1. 36 months of full-time experience in a related industry.
  2. 24 months of experience in a related industry AND a bachelor's degree (or higher) related to that industry.
  3. 36 months of experience teaching one of the aforementioned industries at an educational institution, such as a full-time university program.

For example, a person can qualify with enough professional experience if they have worked in event organization in a hotel for two years and have a bachelor's degree in tourism. If they have the same work experience but no bachelor's degree, they would need to work in the related industry for an additional twelve months before applying.

Note that for the teaching requirement, read the exact phrase carefully. You must be a full-time instructor in "meeting, event, exhibition, tourism, or hospitality management". That's worth considering before using 36 months of work!

If you're unsure how to get started with your professional experience, consider following these steps to kickstart your event organization business.

Continuing Education

Next, you need to fulfill the education requirements. These are similar to the professional experience requirements - non-continuous but occurring within the past 5 years. You have two options to meet this requirement:

Option 1: Education Activities

Education activities can be online webinars, one-on-one Q&A sessions, live lectures, or any other form of class. You need to complete 25 hours of education activities within a 5-year period, and 80% of those need to be related to the aforementioned industries.

The remaining 20% (or 5 out of the 25 hours) can be in any field. If they belong to a different industry, they must be related to one of the nine domains of the CMP International Standards (CMP-IS). The nine domains are:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Project Management
  • Risk Management
  • Financial Management
  • Human Resources Management
  • Stakeholder Management
  • Meeting or Event Design
  • Venue Management
  • Marketing

Option 2: Practicum

Instead of completing education activities, you can also accept certificates for completing a practicum. The practicum needs to be related to the industry and must also be completed through an accredited educational institution, such as a university.

To qualify, you need to complete at least 200 hours of related practicum within a 5-year period. Note that the practicum certification should come from a representative of your educational institution, not the business you interned at, so make sure they are notified.

What happens if your CMP exam application is denied?

There are various reasons why your CMP exam application may be denied. For example, EIC may decide that your education activities are not related to the industry or CMP-IS. They may also deny your application if you fail to provide sufficient information for verification purposes.

If they deny your application, don't worry. You can reapply every quarter, and in the rejection letter, they will highlight the areas that need improvement for the next application. However, the application fee is $250, so it's best to try to get it right the first time!

Nine domains of the CMP exam

What You Need to Know About the CMP Exam?

Once your application is accepted, it's time to start studying. Here's a guide to getting the necessary information to score well on your CMP certification exam.

Study Materials for the CMP Exam

Luckily, EIC keeps everything simple and provides you with three main sources of information to study for your exam. The first two sources are related to the main exam: the CMP Handbook and the CMP Handbook Supplement.

The CMP Handbook discusses the rules and requirements for the exam, provides information on how the exam is scored, and even lets you know how to study for the exam. The CMP Handbook Supplement provides additional information on how to take the exam online if you're unable to take it in person.

The third source of information provided by EIC is the CMP-IS. This is the longest document out of the three sources, and it's the only one that details the information you need to know for the exam. If you master all nine domains of the exam listed above, which CMP-IS discusses in detail, you'll have a very good chance of scoring well.

EIC also recommends some optional reference materials if you want to learn more about specific topics. They are:

  • Events Industry Handbook
  • Professional Meeting Management, 6th Edition
  • APEX (Accepted Practices Exchange) Glossary

These sources are considered optional by EIC, but it's advisable to refer to them, especially if you feel unsure about any of the topics discussed in CMP-IS. Keep in mind that there is plenty of information available on these topics from third-party sources. Consult our guides on topics such as event risk assessment and event budgeting for some additional tips.

Format of the CMP Exam

The format of the CMP exam is quite straightforward, and it's all described in the CMP Handbook. There are a total of 165 questions, with 150 questions contributing to your final score. The remaining 15 questions are test questions that EIC is piloting to see if they want to use them in future exams. You have 3.5 hours to complete the exam.

All questions are multiple-choice questions. There are no trick questions, and there are no "all of the above" or "none of the above" answer options. The questions will cover the nine domains of CMP-IS and they are scored based on difficulty. This means that if you answer a difficult question correctly, you will receive more points. Easy questions will earn you fewer points.

To achieve the CMP certification, you need to score a minimum of 55 points. Keep in mind that due to how the questions are scored, it doesn't mean you need to answer exactly 55 questions correctly.

What happens if you fail the CMP exam?

If you fail the CMP exam, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that you won't have to reapply as long as you retake the exam within one year from your initial application date. The bad news is that you will have to pay the exam fee again, which is $475.

The Caverns / Drew Holcomb / Pelham, TN Illustration: Staff working at an event

Other CMP Certification Options

If you're looking for similar certifications to CMP, here are some other options for you to consider.

Digital Event Strategist (DES)

The DES certification focuses on digital event organizers, rather than in-person events. To obtain it, you would need to attend the official DES course and pass a final exam. The process costs around $700. As a result, a study found that event organizers with DES certification saw a salary increase of up to $8,000 compared to those without certification.

Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP)

Unlike DES, the CSEP certification directly competes with CMP to certify event organizers in general. It also has eligibility requirements based on experience, and the application fee is $700.

Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM)

While CMP and CSEP certifications are for all event organizers, the CMM certification is for those with higher-level management experience. Therefore, the application requirements are quite strict. The official course that you need to pass to obtain this certification costs $4,400.

Take Your Event Organization Career to New Heights

If you want to organize events like the experts, strive to obtain your CMP certification. Whether it's the skills you'll learn or the salary you can expect, there are plenty of benefits to gain if you pass this exam. If you're looking for additional resources to help you succeed, check out Eventbrite's expert guides on topics such as venue risk assessment and event budgeting.

But remember, even the best event organizers need quality tools to support them. That's why they turn to Eventbrite to have the most powerful solutions for everything from ticket sales to event marketing.