Salary Survey

Convene’s 2016 Salary Survey

Few meeting professionals received raises over the last year — and those raises were smaller compared to the previous year.

The numbers are in: Slightly fewer meeting professionals received raises compared with last year’s survey, and those increases were significantly less than those received in the prior year. 

Our annual Salary Survey revealed that 73 percent of meeting-professional respondents received an increase in pay in the last 12 months, compared to the 79 percent of respondents in last year’s survey who said they got a raise. Moreover, the average salary increase of 4.35 percent was significantly lower than the average raise of 7.03 percent reported in our 2015 survey.

What those results may indicate — keeping in mind that our salary survey is not a controlled group study where all the respondents are the same every year — is a return to normal. The hefty raises in 2014–2015 may have been a more aggressive attempt to bring salaries back in line after the recession years. And even at 4.35 percent, meeting professionals received a higher-percent raise than the overall national average — the nonprofit human-resources association WorldatWork estimates that the 2016 budget for raises for the U.S. workforce averaged 3.1 percent.

More than half of planners (56 percent) earn $70,000 or more annually.

While everyone likes fat pay raises like those given out in 2014–2105, less than half of this year’s survey respondents said they were dissatisfied with their compensation. And if you stack Convene’s 2016 Annual Salary Survey results against average meeting planner salaries on online career sites,  you’ll find our survey respondents, on average, are in a better place, compensation-wise.  According to our survey results this year, the overall average salary for meeting professionals is $80,505. The average salary for meeting/event planner in 2016 is $58,366; at, it’s $46,490;, $50,000;, $49,000;, $52,156; and, $46,490 — although that site’s salary for top-end planners, at $82,060, is more in line with our results. (See “A Survey Selfie” below for reasons our respondents report higher pay.)

Our survey also identified non-monetary tangibles and intangibles that respondents said would make them happier on the job — from being perceived and treated as more critical to their organizations, to having greater flexibility in their work schedules, and more opportunities to work from home. (And it revealed that eight out of ten respondents are not taking all of the vacation they are entitled to.)

Our survey results follow, in categories that include job title, role, geographic location, responsibilities, and gender, as well as snapshots of compensation and characteristics of respondents who reported their titles as vice president, director, or manager.  The survey’s top-line results also are distilled in an infographic and you can find the survey as it appears in our print issue here









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As noted, our survey respondents generally out-earned the average salary levels reported on online career sites. The following characteristics of our survey pool — Convene‘s readers — shed some light on why that may be true. 

Background The average respondent is 43 years old with 10 years of experience. Fifty-nine percent of respondents are age 40 or older; 57 percent have more than 10 years of meeting-management experience. Eighty-six percent are female; 14 percent are male.

Pay plus experience The average salary for meeting professionals with 1–3 years of experience is $53,750; 4–5 years, $62,278; 6–8 years, $68,641; 9–10 years, $70,880; and 10-plus years, $92,007.

Education Sixty-five percent of respondents have earned a college degree; 12 percent have an advanced degree.

Credentials Nine-tenths (91 percent) of respondents have earned the CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) designation; 6 percent have earned a CMM (Certification in Meeting Management); and 5 percent have earned their CAE (Certified Association Executive). Respondents with a CMP earned on average $8,500 a year more than their colleagues without the designation: $85,052 vs. $76,518.

Respective pay The average salary for an association executive is $110,143; association meeting professional, $77,242; corporate meeting professional, $81,265; government meeting professional, $75,833; and independent meeting professional, $78,438.

Managerial material Forty-two percent are managers, followed by directors (29 percent). Six percent are at the VP level. Just about half of respondents (49 percent) supervise a meetings staff, while 27 percent supervise more than two employees.

Long hours Respondents work an average of 45 hours per week. More than half (56 percent) log between 41 and 50 hours a week; 17 percent are on the job 51 to 60 hours; and 3 percent put in more than 60 hours each week.

jun16-salary-survey-spot1MORE RESULTS

Compensation factors Respondents said their pay is determined in part by the number of meetings they oversee annually (39 percent); size/scale of their largest meeting (28 percent); number of staff who report to them (18 percent); and post-meeting metrics (15 percent).

Training Three-quarters (75 percent) said their employers regularly pay for them to attend educational events, including conferences and workshops, or provide training funds for their professional development. Thirteen percent said the level of that support has increased (perhaps due to a continued improved economy), while 79 percent said it has stayed the same.

More to do Sixty-seven percent said they have had additional responsibilities added to their job description this year, and 75 percent have not been compensated for taking on those additional duties.

Fewer raises Seventy-three percent received an increase in pay within the last 12 months, six points down from last year’s survey, in which 79 percent of respondents got a pay raise.

Only 2 percent of respondents said their salaries decreased in the past 12 months.

Forty-four percent reported that their salary increased by less than 5 percent; 14 percent said it increased by 5 to 9.9 percent; and 15 percent received an increase of more than 10 percent.

One-quarter said their salary remained flat, compared to 19 percent in last year’s survey.

Raises were primarily due to regular salary increases (71 percent); 14 percent received a promotion this year.

Compared to the 85 percent who said they expected to receive a raise in last year’s survey, only 60 percent said they expect to get a raise within the next year.

Smaller raises The average salary increase of 4.35 percent was significantly lower than the average raise of 7.03 percent reported in our 2015 survey. The average salary for all respondents was $80,505, slightly below last year’s survey, at $80,794.

At the high end More than half of planners (56 percent) earn $70,000 or more annually.

Annual compensation ranges:

• $30,000–$39,999, 2 percent

$40,000–$49,999, 9 percent

 $50,000–$59,999, 16 percent

 $60,000–$69,999, 16 percent

 $70,000–$84,999, 21 percent

 $85,000 to $99,999, 12 percent

 $100,000–$124,999, 11 percent

  $125,000 or more, 12 percent

Satisfaction Fifty-seven percent of respondents reported that they are satisfied with their current salary; 33 percent expressed dissatisfaction. Seventy-five percent of respondents are satisfied with their specific jobs, while 85 percent said that they are satisfied with the meetings profession as a whole.

Location, location, location While respondents work throughout North America, they are most likely to be based in the Washington, D.C., area (31 percent), followed by the Chicago market (13 percent) and the New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan areas (4 percent each). Forty-eight percent of respondents live and work in other areas of North America. Here’s the geographic breakdown: Northeast, 16 percent; Midwest/Central, 24 percent; South, 43 percent; West, 14 percent; Canada, 4 percent.

Global scope Nearly all of our respondents (98 percent) plan meetings in the United States; 32 percent in Canada; 23 percent in Europe; 14 percent in Mexico; 13 percent in Asia; 12 percent in the Caribbean and/or Bermuda; 8 percent in Australia/Pacific Rim; 7 percent in South America; 6 percent in the Middle East; and 3 percent in Africa.

Convene’s Salary Survey was conducted by Lewis&Clark,, and sponsored by DMAI’s All material © 2016 by PCMA.

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.

  • Laura Lopez

    Great article! Question for you: how many people were surveyed for this? Would be interested to know how many and how that relates to the numbers shown.

  • jlsf

    What’s missing is a real call to action about the gender disparity in compensation.The average male salary is 30% higher than the average female salary. That is a major issue we need to focus on in our industry!

    • Hinckley Hardcastle

      In any industry. I thought the same when I read that. It’s ridiculous.

      Of course, this is not a scientific survey and it’s completely possible that the women who happened to participate coincidentally made less then the males who participated. It’s not likely. But notice this survey also shows CEOs making less than their VPs. Liklely the VPS took time to answer this and CEOs did not.

      But gender disparity is no better than racial disparity. Equal pay for equal responsibility and results.