Event Coordinators Have the 5th Most Stressful Job in America

StressEvent coordinators are getting the nod as the fifth most stressful job in America in 2014, coming in just above “public relations executive.” Event coordinators are among some interesting company in the newly published list alongside enlisted military soldiers, firefighters, airline pilots, military generals and police officers.

According to the CareerCast study, though event coordinators are responsible for planning all logistics and activities for events he or she is responsible for throughout the year, an individual event may be a once-in-a-lifetime special occasion for the client which contributes to the high stress environment that planners often work in.

CareerCast used an 11 stress factor methodology and ranked each factor on a point scale to determine the amount of stress a worker can predict to experience in a given job. When you look at the categories they considered such as amount of travel, working in the public eye, meeting the public, and deadlines it is not surprising that event coordinators made the list.

Event Coordinators received a stress score of 49.85 (to give some perspective, the most stressful job, enlisted military officer, received a stress score of 84.61). The high stakes, high pressure, and high visibility nature of event planning I think warrants inclusion of event coordinators somewhere in this list. While event planners may not be putting out literal fires they are certainly dealing with their fair share of “disasters." 

There are quite a few causes of stress for event planners and here are a few that I think contribute to event coordinators' new billing as one of the most stressful jobs in America.

Personalities of Planners
To be a great event planner you truly have to be obsessive with the details--if you weren’t you wouldn’t be doing your job well. This constant desire to make sure things are  just right for clients can be extremely taxing on planners emotionally. Being a Type-A-everything-must-be-perfect person makes planner's exceptionally adept at their jobs but I think that it is fair to say that it also contributes to the stress on the planner. People with laidback, devil-may-care attitudes probably wouldn't be as stressed out in the same position but I imagine that they also wouldn't give the fine tuned attention to detail that planning a large scale event demands.

Murphy’s Law
Remember the old adage, "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong?" No event, client, or day is ever going to be the same. No matter how much you prepare there is always the possibility that something will go wrong that is outside of the planner's control. This is partly what makes event planning such an exciting industry. Unfortunately, event coordinators often take the brunt of a client’s frustration over unexpected and uncontrollable mishaps (weather anyone?). Despite the fact that much of this is outside of an event coordinator's personal control he or she is still responsible for handling an upset client and must do everything within their power to make the event a success in the client's eyes. 

The High Stakes
In planning and executing an event you aren't given the luxury of a second chance. It's either done right the first time or it's not. There is no going back. Event planning is not only a stressful job it's also grossly misunderstood by outsiders. For many that equate being an event coordinator to planning a 5-year-old’s birthday party, they simply are not grasping the breadth and depth of the event planning industry. Suffice it to say, your average business executive has no concept of what it takes to flawlessly execute a multi-million dollar event from start to finish. There is often a significant amount of money, pride, and ego at stake when planning a major corporate event. Tons of responsibility rests on the planner’s shoulders and regardless of preparation time there is always the possibility for something to go awry.

The Lifestyle
Where should I start with this one? The actual coordination on the day of an event is only one portion of the job.  The incredible amount of time that it takes to prepare for an event and the potential for constant travel can be draining. Once the day of the event actually arrives, planners often work long and grueling hours without a moment of rest. Depending on a planner's particular niche, the lifestyle can be the most difficult part of the job. Weekends? Forget it. Many planners spend too many weekends to count working 15 hour days running from place to place pulling off an event to remember for their client.

Someone once said to me, "If your job is stressful, that means it's a very important job." Ultimately I think feeling stressed at your job can potentially be a sign that you're making a significant contribution. I think it must be mentioned that just because you thrive under pressure doesn't mean that the job itself isn't stressful. Most planners never let you "see them sweat" but I think this is because they are consummate professionals that understand the nature of their job and not because their role isn't difficult.

I think the inclusion of event planners on the list is well deserved and in many ways I think it's a nod to the importance of the role. Planners are responsible for much more than those outside of the professional event planning industry tend to give them credit for. It's nice to see event planners being recognized for the challenges that they overcome every day. 

What is YOUR most stressful challenge?
 
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