Signature Boston

Getting Started in Exhibitions & Events

Have you considered a career in exhibitions and events?

A career in the exhibitions and events industry can be rewarding, challenging and ever-changing. There are opportunities for world travel and working with different people and cultures, which can be very exciting. But it is certainly not  a normal nine-to-five position as show organizers often work long hours in advance of an event and at the show site, and it does not stop there.

History of the Industry

Click on the slide deck below to get a history of the industry along with career pathing information. This is a perfect resource for middle school, high school or college students.

Exhibitions and Events Mean Business. Did You Know…

*Source: Center for Exhibition Industry Research |*

Career Overview

IAEE offers a wide range of information to help you get started in the exhibitions and events industry. We offer a career path regardless of where you are starting from when looking at a career in exhibitions and event management.

How Do I Get Started?

Starting a career in the exhibitions and events industry is exciting and has a defined career path. IAEE offers several resources available to help navigate the various avenues to jump start your career in exhibitions and events.

Student Brochure

Download Here

Career Pathways Infographic

Download Here

Colleges & Universities

This is a career of choice. View the List of Colleges/Universities that offer event management programs.

Internships & Jobs

As part of IAEE’s new Career Center, we are offering IAEE member companies the ability to upload internship opportunities FREE of cost through our new customized portal.  If you have an internship that you would like to post, click here.

Visit our job portal for internships and job opportunities at every level of development.

Exhibition Industry Jobs

Salary Information

CEMs make 20-30% more at the middle management level.

CEO & Other C-Levels
Title & Base Salary Average For-Profit Association
CEO / Chief Executive Officer $232,667 $264,600
President $212,700 $276,589
Executive Vice President $128,000 $157,000
Vice President $135,200 $154,280
Other Compensation % of base 21% 17%
Benefits % of base 14% 16%
Show Management
Title & Base Salary Average For-Profit Association
Vice President, Exhibitions/Events $121,313 $171,952
Group Show Director $98,947 $97,000
Show Director $84,729 $88,924
Show Manager $67,893 $64,816
Other Compensation % of base 13% 9%
Benefits % of base 15% 15%
Title & Base Salary Average For-Profit Association
Vice President, Operations $161,000 $150,000
Group Operations Director $97,400 $99,333
Operations Director $86,967 $88,447
Operations Manager $61,350 $63,760
Other Compensation % of base 10% 8%
Benefits % of base 16% 17%
Title & Base Salary Average For-Profit Association
Vice President, Marketing $160,000 $134,857
Group Marketing Director $106,250 $110,200
Marketing Director $80,680 $88,543
Marketing Manager $56,127 $60,750
Other Compensation % of base 8% 10%
Benefits % of base 15% 17%
Sales Management*
Title & Base Salary Average For-Profit Association
Vice President, Sales $93,333 $137,875
Group Sales Director $102,500 $80,233
Commission % of Sales 8% 10%
Other Compensation % of base 7% 7%
Benefits % of base 10% 23%
Exhibit Space Sales
Exhibit Sales Director $64,846 $86,174
Commission Rate % 10% 9%
Exhibit Sales Manager $58,361 $60,302
Commission Rate % 13% 11%
Exhibit Sales Representative $42,692 $55,844
Commission Rate % 11% 12%
Sponsorship Sales
Sponsorship Sales Director $87,500 $88,231
Commission Rate % 7% 10%
Sponsorship Sales Manager $59,375 $60,808
Commission Rate % 9% 8%
Sponsorship Sales Representative $37,500 $45,000
Commission Rate % 15% 18%

*Average salary figures represent base salary

Industry Videos




How Current Professionals Started


“I started my career in the exhibitions industry planning an annual conference for Special Olympics and now manage an international association’s exhibition that travels all over the world. The exhibition industry is an exciting career … and the opportunities for continuing education and networking with colleagues through IAEE make it continuously energetic.”

Kristin Barranger, CEM

Manager, Expositions & Communications
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)


“After graduating college with a degree in management and marketing I had no idea where to start my job search, but I knew my passion for people and sales would lead me to the proper company. A friend of a friend offered me an interview with a supplier company named Freeman and away I went. Every day is different with a new client, new event, new opportunity and even a new office. This industry is the perfect spot for those of us who like innovation and variation! We see new technology, new trends and old tricks every day. New opportunities are around every corner, the opportunities for growth are never ending. You can’t explain events, exhibitions and face-to-face, you have to experience it.”

Brad Hobson, CEM

Assistant Director – Business Development