By Scott Prater
Schriever military spouses now have an opportunity to take advantage of one of the fastest growing career fields in the nation during the next decade thanks to coordination between the staff at the Schriever Airman and Family Readiness Center, the Air Force Aid Society and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
According to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, demand for event planners is expected to grow by 44 percent nationwide through 2020.
That statistic wasn’t lost on Nancy Seckman, community readiness consultant and spouse employment specialist at the A&FRC, who heard about an event and wedding planner certification course being offered through UCCS’s extended studies department late last year. Soon after, she submitted a proposal to the AFAS to obtain funding for Schriever spouses who wish to earn the certification. The AFAS sent their approval the first week in January.
“We’ve received a lot of interest from spouses about this career training and I can understand why,” Seckman said. “Event and wedding planning, as a career, alleviates a lot of the problems spouses face. The career is great for parents with young children who need flexibility with their work schedule and it’s portable. They can take their skills and expertise anywhere their spouse’s assignment takes them.”
Unlike many traditional degree or educational programs, no previous coursework or specific knowledge is required. The ten-week course meets every Wednesday for three hours and includes 10 hours of hands-on training at events and weddings in the local area.
“I like a lot of the aspects of this course,” said Schriever spouse Diane Temple. “First is the time commitment. Being a stay-at-home mom and part-time registered nurse, the evening classroom sessions fit easily into my schedule.”
When she learned the AFAS would fund 75 percent of the cost of tuition, she was sold.
“I have always been interested in the wedding and event planning industry,” she said. “Now that I know I can earn a certificate in this field of work, it gives me confidence that I can build my interest into a possible career.”
Seckman has met many spouses who picked up event-planning skills simply by living a military family lifestyle.
“It’s hard to find a military spouse who hasn’t done some kind of volunteer work,” she said. “And, spouses always seem to be the people who plan the events for schools, churches and local charities.”
Take Laurelee Manchester for example, who has been coordinating the local “Ornaments for Soldiers” charity for the past two and half years.
“I’ve been doing this kind of work for as long as I can remember,” she said. “It would be nice to get paid to do it and it makes a lot more sense to be certified.”
Event planning career opportunities are plentiful according to Seckman, from freelance to corporate and even military base jobs.
“A lot of chapels and churches are requiring couples to use their on-site wedding planners as a precursor to holding an event at their venue,” she said. “That means those venues will be hiring planners.”
Temple intends to take one of those jobs and has high hopes that one day she can be the wedding planner she could never find while preparing for her own wedding.
“I was extremely frustrated with my wedding planner,” she said. “In this day and age, it’s all about budget and protecting the environment. The person we had never provided us with any options that would help us stay within our budget. Ultimately, we felt we didn’t matter to her because our budget was on the conservative side. To me, a wedding is a special time in a couple’s lives and a wedding planner should have a genuine passion for helping and serving others. It’s my personal goal to never make a couple feel like they don’t matter.”
Spouses of Airmen who hold ranks between E-1 and E-5 and O-1 to O-2 also are eligible to receive 100 percent financial assistance for the course from the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts Program.
Seckman said a few slots for the March 6 to May 8 class are still available. Contact the Schriever A&FRC for more information at 567-3920.