By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
Certifications are a great way to let potential employers know you’re up-to-speed and knowledgeable when applying for jobs. And the benefits don’t stop there. Certified facility management (FM) professionals are likely to net a higher salary and grab the attention of larger, well-established businesses.
But what type of certification do you need? How long does it take? What are the real benefits, beyond landing the job you’re applying for? Let’s take a look at FM certification and what it means for this industry—starting with where to get it.
Types of certifications
Someone has to set the standard for the industry. Accredited governing bodies and organizations award certifications based on universally recognized standards. These institutions have a hand in developing everything from the training curricula to the renewal standards for industry-focused certifications.
In the facilities management field, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) is that organization. Almost all major FM certifications come from IFMA, including the five most popular and in-demand:
- Facility Management Professional™ (FMP®)
- Certified Facility Manager® (CFM®)
- Sustainability Facility Professional® (SFP®)
- RICS Chartered Qualification (MRICS)
- RICS Associate Qualification (AssocRICS)
Depending on your professional focus, any one of these certifications is enough to pull your name to the top of the CV pile. But having the title isn’t enough. You also need the body of knowledge that comes with it. Like any certification in any industry, to get the title you need to undergo rigorous education and training.
Currently, a facilities management degree isn’t something offered by most colleges and universities. Though some do, such degrees aren’t recognized by industry governing bodies. Instead, most colleges offer a degree in administrative services—a catchall spanning broad topics like business, engineering, information management, and, of course, facility management.
Just because there’s no facility management-specific degree doesn’t mean institutional education isn’t important. Studying to be an administrative services manager is a crucial first step toward FM certification. Broad exposure to the many facets of business administration helps when the time comes to narrow focus on facilities. And, in today’s competitive workforce, a bachelor’s degree in business is a crucial prerequisite for any workplace management position.
The real path to facility management professional certification starts once you have your degree. Using the knowledge gleaned from studying administrative services, an individual can enroll in IFMA professional development and certificate programs. This is the direct route to credentialing.
IFMA certifications come after passing modules that teach standard practice and specialized understanding of the modern FM role. The process is relatively low cost, however it requires engaged focus on learning high-level concepts, terms, and fundamentals. Modules span all facets of facilities management—building maintenance, energy management, employee safety, budgeting, and countless others. Examples include:
- Annual and Capital Budgeting for Facility Management Operations
- How Integrated Project Delivery and BIM Provide Value for Capital Projects
- Fundamentals of Corporate Real Estate
- Construction Management Delivery Options
As of writing, IFMA has more than 50 training modules. Not all of them are required for every FM certification, but all are useful in understanding modern-day facilities management.
Like other professions with evolving standards and practices, facility managers should concern themselves with Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Because there’s no physical facility management school or steadfast degree programs, professionals must accumulate CEUs to show continued compliance with evolving standards.
Facility professionals earn CEUs by completing IFMA modules or attending conferences and seminars hosted by the organization. Each certification requires a certain number of CEUs to remain valid year-over-year. It’s a fundamental system for ensuring industry standards are upheld.
Certification goes beyond titles
Whether you’re a FMP, CFM, or SFP, what matters is the knowledge behind the title. Facility management certification represents more than time and money spent taking courses and completing modules. The certificate represents a definitive understanding of facility management expectations in today’s workplace. This is what’s most valuable to companies.
Your title may move your CV to the top of the applicant stack or net you a higher annual salary, but it also guarantees a great return on investment for the company hiring you. The knowledge and initiatives you bring to the table are instrumental in optimizing the workplace and everything it touches, including the balance sheet, employee satisfaction, productivity, and culture.
Keep reading: What is a CAFM Specialist?