Everything You Need to Know to Become a CMP (Certified Meeting Professional)

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If you work in the hospitality and tourism industry, especially in the world of meetings and events, chances are you have heard about the notorious Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation. 

According to a 2019 report from Data USA, there are 148,349 people employed as meeting, convention, & event planners in the U.S. alone. More than 11,000 meeting professionals in 40 countries hold the CMP designation. Obtaining a CMP designation is highly sought after, as it takes self discipline and devotion to earn. Pursuing higher education and skills will always be beneficial, I believe if not in your professional development, certainly in your personal development.  


In this blog post, I am going to talk about my CMP experience, but more importantly how to get YOU where you need to be, and that is on the road to passing the CMP exam. Reaching my goal of becoming a CMP was so exciting and rewarding, anyone will tell you it is challenging but SO worth it. 


Where Do I Start? 

First you need to create an account with the Events Industry Council. Visit https://www.eventscouncil.org/ and click on “CMP Login”. This is where you’ll be able to record continuing education hours, upload your resume, upload college transcripts, pay your fees, etc. 


What Are the Eligibility Requirements to Apply to Become a CMP?

There are two options: either have 3 years (36 months) of working full-time in the meetings industry plus 25 clock hours of continuing education, OR have a degree in Hospitality/Event Management plus 2 years (24 months) of working full time in the meetings industry.


What Costs Are Involved?

The application fee is $250, and the exam fee is $475. Should you choose to take quizzes, practice exams, and continuing education through the EIC, those range from $5.99-$25 each, or $79- $399 for bundles. Study material includes the Events Industry Council Manual and the Events Industry Council Industry Glossary-both are mandatory to pass the exam.


What Does the CMP Exam Cover? 

The exam covers all 9 domains- Domain A Strategic Planning, Domain B Project Management, Domain C Risk Management, Domain D Financial Management, Domain E Human Resources, Domain F Stakeholder Management, Domain G Meeting or Events Design, Domain H Site Management and Domain I Marketing. 


What Supplemental Materials Should I Consider Purchasing? 

The PCMA manual is not mandatory, but acts as a bonus to both EIC books. I actually bought it and then decided to focus more on the EIC manual and glossary for the bulk of my studying. As far as learning the material, I HIGHLY recommend taking Joanne Dennison’s CMP class, you won’t regret it. She also offers a take again option, so once you’ve taken her class, you can take it as many times as you like after that. There is so much material to learn, I loved being able to take the class multiple times. MPI offers study groups that meet either virtually or in person. I joined an MPI study group before I discovered Joanne, and it honestly was not beneficial to me at the time, because I was so unfamiliar with study material. I believe the study group I did would have been better if I had known the material before and needed a refresher. PCMA has an online prep that is a good way to study once you are comfortable with the material. I purchased the prep about a month and a half before my exam to have something to review.


What Free Resources Exist for Continuing Education? 

When applying for the exam, (and later recertifying), the continuing education credits need to have been completed within the last 5 years. 1 clock hour equals 1 continuing education credit. The EIC will often host free webinars, which I took a few, and I also tapped into my company’s team member portal where online education modules are free to take. LinkedIn Learning has courses in many different subjects that fall under the 9 domains. Sign up for their free month trial to have access to over 16,000+ online courses. 


What Is the Best Study Method? 

Survey says, there is NO BEST STUDY METHOD! Even the EIC says they do not recommend any one method of studying because everyone learns differently. My best piece of advice is to absorb the material in as many ways as possible. That way you know without a doubt you are confident in the material for real life application as well as for taking the exam. One thing that really worked for me is after reading through the EIC book twice, I recorded myself reading it on my phone via voice memos, and organized it by each domain, and  then within each domain it was separated by skills and subskills. Listening to the book on the way to work, washing the dishes really helped me retain the material. 


What Are Some Good Test Taking Tips?

The test is highly conceptual and is not definition based. Memorization won’t be your best friend, as it is hardest to recall under stress. I would say if you can teach the material to a friend, significant other, family member, etc, you are in a good spot. You will need to be proficient in all 9 domains, so get to be extremely comfortable with each domain.The test is 3 ½ hours long with 165 questions. Relax while taking the exam and try to have 50 questions completed by each hour, and in the last half hour try to have 15 questions left. Joanne Dennison has some great test taking tips on her YouTube channel. 


What Happens if I Don’t Pass? 

First of all, go into the exam with the utmost confidence and pride in yourself. Tell yourself that no matter if you pass or don’t pass, YOU. ARE. WORTHY. A ton of studying and sacrifices go into this exam, it is no easy feat. I did not pass not once but twice, and believe me, it was a humbling and self-crippling feeling. I felt as though I was not good enough, not smart enough, not capable, but that was far from the truth. Although failure can be a cruel teacher sometimes, learning to embrace imperfection is a beautiful part of life. The good thing is in 90 days, you are able to take the exam again. I would say don’t rush to retake the exam, but really do things differently the second, third or fourth time you go to take the exam. I told myself I would pass the exam one day, and I kept pressing on. My passing date was May 25, 2021 and what a glorious day that was!  


In conclusion, when preparing and getting advice from past CMP takers, their advice helped THEM. Doesn’t mean it necessarily will work for you. Also the test is continuously changing. As many ways as you can absorb the material, do so. Remember on the exam day, YOU will be taking the exam, not them. Do whatever works for you. Also some people may have biases against certain study methods, but again do what works for you. 

Tips to Pass the CMP Exam: 

  • You have to get to the stage from dreading the book to enjoying it. (it is not the most exciting material to read at times)
  • Words were never more true: it is a marathon not a sprint. Take your time studying, and take your time on the exam.
  • Do not get discouraged during the lead up to the exam, tell yourself you can do this! You are worth this investment! 
  • Don’t quit! Good things come to those that persevere and overcome hardships. 


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