How to Become a Facilities Manager
By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
Until present day, facility management wasn’t really a distinguished career path. Large corporations and multinational conglomerates used facility managers, but it was more of a specialized need than a staple position. Today, it’s different. Facility management is projected to be a nearly $60B industry by 2023. Companies of all sizes understand the benefits that come from well-managed facilities. As a result, candidates for the positions are in high demand.
To meet estimates, the number of qualified facility managers needs to grow at an exponential rate. And it’s already happening. Facility manager hirings are booming, leading up-and-coming workplace professionals into the field. The problem is getting on the facility management career track isn’t always a clear path. Here’s what you need to know:
The path to facility management certification starts with a bachelor’s degree. A general degree in business will often do, however, more companies are looking for more specialized areas of study in the next generation of facility managers. Business administration is a smart choice, as is information systems management, and operations management.
Ideally, it’s best to pursue a business degree that emphasizes macro concepts and broad business ideals. Don’t worry if you leave school feeling like you don’t know too much about facilities management. The goal of institutional education is to provide you with the acumen to identify and address workplace operational needs.
Note: Some colleges and universities are offering facility management degrees. As of writing, these degrees aren’t widespread and not yet recognized by industry governing bodies like IFMA.
Continuing education for facility managers builds on the business concepts learned in school, with a specific focus on facilities. Industry organizations and accrediting bodies like the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) and other organizations offer continuing education and accreditation specific to facilities management.
IFMA has more than 50 training modules for aspiring facility managers. Depending on the certification you pursue, you’ll take many of them. Pass and you’re well on your way to walking away with a facility management certificate to go with your bachelor’s degree in business.
Certification and training
Facility management training comes down to each individual’s area of focus. There are several certifications that emphasize different aspects of facility management—from a general issues, sustainability, and analytics. Almost all major FM certifications come from IFMA, including the five most popular:
- Facility Management Professional™ (FMP)
- Certified Facility Manager® (CFM)
- Sustainability Facility Professional® (SFP)
- RICS Chartered Qualification (MRICS)
- RICS Associate Qualification (AssocRICS)
Most industry professionals opt for CFM or FMP certification, since they’re the most applicable when pursuing a facility management career. Some industries demand SFP designation based on company goals. MRICS and AssocRICS are extensions of CFM and FMP certification.
Industry trends and insights
Beyond institutional education and certification through an accredited body, it’s also good for budding professionals to develop a robust understanding of the industry they’re getting into. This can be as simple as following relevant blogs and newsletters. It’s also smart to join industry groups to get a feel for the dialog used by future colleagues and peers. Attending one or two events on the conference circuit isn’t a bad idea either—namely major events like IFMA World Workplace and the annual CoreNet Global Summit.
Remember that facilities management is in a renaissance and will continue evolving as workplace technologies develop. Staying abreast of industry trends and insights is smart for any aspiring facility manager and the duty of any established professional.
Recognize opportunities to apply your skills
Outside of following the right education and career tracks, it’s important to develop professional skills befitting a facility manager. Problem solving and the ability to examine macro and micro trends top the list. Analytical skills and organization aren’t far behind. It’s also important to have good communication skills—facility managers are often trailblazers for workplace change and improvement, which means communicating benefits to different groups (C-suite, managers, employees, etc.).
Cultivating these skills alongside proper education and training sets the stage for innovative facility management. Facility managers able to affect positive change in their workplaces will enjoy long-tenured careers doing what they love: solving problems.
Keep reading: What does a facility management salary look like?