Integrated facilities management: the path to a viable career
A career in facility management is diverse and in demand. With new technology continuing to change the workplace landscape, facility managers are highly sought after.
It’s a lesser-known career path, one full of variability and opportunity. Facility management combines property management, HVAC monitoring, and real estate—to name a few components—making this a varied profession with excellent earning potential. In fact, according to Salary.com, the average facility manager in the United States makes roughly $96,798 per year, but the range could be anywhere from $82,986 to $110,742 annually.
Where does one start?
In this article, we discuss everything you need to know to kickstart your career in facilities management, but let’s start with the basics first.
What is a facility manager, and what do they do?
A facility manager is responsible for making sure office buildings meet the needs of employees, which encompasses things like technology, communication, and company culture standards. They ensure building operations are running smoothly at all times.
Facility managers are responsible for making the workplace as efficient as possible. This includes working with other departments, assessing space usage data, and hearing from employees about their experience.
The majority of current facility managers consist of the boomer generation, but as that generation continues to retire, more opportunities are becoming available. In fact, it’s expected that 40% of current facility managers will retire within the next eight years, making this an excellent time to jump into this field.
As far as responsibilities go, a few primary ones include:
- Ensuring building operations are up to standard
- Addressing emergencies like breaches in security or usability of the building
- Forecasting building plans concerning company growth
- Overseeing maintenance and repair efforts
- Facilitating vendor agreements
- Making informed recommendations that impact office design
In addition to those responsibilities, facility managers use space and occupancy data from technology like sensors and space management software to make decisions that impact employees and the company as a whole. Facility managers can analyze space and company growth data to decide whether the company should consider moving to a bigger space, or perhaps even downsizing.
A significant part of this role is to collaborate with other departments, like human resources (HR) and information technology (IT), to create a great employee experience and to optimize company operations.
For example, facility managers can take occupancy data and determine that employees want more collaborative spaces throughout the office. Then, they can work with the necessary departments to make that possible.
How can I become a facility manager?
If you’re interested in kickstarting your career as a Facilities Manager, here’s a few tips on how to get ahead.
There are a few avenues you can take to start your career in facility management. But to get off on the right foot, it starts with proper education.
The educational requirements vary depending on the career path you seek. However, most jobs require a bachelor’s degree (typically in business, facility management, or information management), plus the proper licenses and certifications.
The International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) offers a program designed to prepare new facility management students for a successful career.
The program has two options, the Facilities Management Professional certification (FMP) and the Certified Facility Manager (CFM) certification. Those who are just entering the field can obtain their FMP certification as a path to the CFM certification. However, the CFM requires applicants to meet specific educational standards and must be renewed every three years via continuing education and professional development requirements. Depending on the path you choose once you’re in the program, there may be additional requirements to meet as well.
There are many benefits to considering both programs. A few of the main ones include:
Facilities Management Professional certification
- An FMP certification typically leads to a $6,000 USD salary increase within the first year
- No prerequisites or recurring costs
- Backed by the International Facilities Management Association
Certified Facility Manager certification
- A globally recognized program
- Varying coursework prepares you for a steady career
- The average five-year ROI is 15:1 for those who are certified
The IFMA World Workplace Expo is another great opportunity to not only keep up with your required credits, but for networking, peer learning, and seeing the latest developments and trends in facility management technology. This conference serves as a chance to connect with other industry professionals, fine-tune your skills in facility management, and more.
OfficeSpace Software will be at the 2019 IFMA conference in
Phoenix at booth 1311, so be sure to stop by!
In addition to these certifications, there are several post-secondary options across North America to consider as well.
One notable program is Brigham Young University’s Construction and Facilities Management program. Students enrolled in this particular program can expect a hands-on learning experience that will pave the way to a prosperous career.
There are also other schools with notable programs to consider, including CUNY New York City College of Technology, Fitchburg State University, and Missouri State University at Springfield, to name a few.
Potential career niches
There are many career paths within the facility management field. Finding the niche that’s right for you may take a bit of research, but a few areas to consider include:
- Property management: if managing an actual workplace itself is more your speed, you may want to consider looking into property management. What differs property managers from facility managers is that property managers oversee building operations like collecting rent and maintaining the building.
- Sustainability management: if you have a passion for sustainability and helping companies be more environmentally friendly, this may be the route for you. Closely tied to facilities management, but often its own role, sustainability management involves anything from the reduction of a company’s production of waste to understanding how a building uses energy (and how to improve that usage).
- Project management: project managers are an essential asset to any company. Individuals in this role can expect to be responsible for tasks like developing work scopes, budgets, and timelines, coordinating workloads among employees, and facility tours.
- Building automation system management: this facility niche combines a few of the others. Encompassing many of the tasks related to property and sustainability managers, building automation system managers work to make sure the systems that make up a workplace are running as they should, like the building’s HVAC or lighting system.
Qualities of a successful facility manager
There’s no question that facility management is a challenging job. With so much to manage and keep track of, individuals pursuing this field should have the following qualities:
Organized and detail oriented
Facility managers are responsible for various components within the workplace. Therefore, they must have their ducks in a row to make sure operations are running smoothly. It can be overwhelming to keep track of occupancy data, inventory, and employees, so using Workplace Management Software can be a huge help.
Analytical with the ability to interpret data
A significant part of a facility manager’s job is to analyze and translate data like occupancy information and other employee data in a way that helps optimize the building or company. Being able to identify areas of improvement as well as ways to maximize space (or in some cases, reduce space) will make a facility manager shine. Facility managers have multiple resources that can help them make the most of this data like space management software, sensors, inventory tracking software, the building automation system, etc.
Excellent communication skills
Facility managers work with different departments frequently, like HR, IT, and leadership, so it’s vital to have strong communication skills. Having the ability to make a case for why the company should invest in certain things, like a new HVAC system or a sensor system, is imperative to being a successful facility manager.
Also, part of the role of a facility manager is to help employees when they need it. Like if they need help using the desk booking or room booking software or to advocate for more collaborative spaces. Therefore having clear communication skills is necessary for the job.
Anticipate problems before they happen
This comes with experience in most cases, but being able to see an issue coming from a mile away is a great skill to have as a facility manager. Preventative maintenance, making sure supplies are stocked, and making sure technology works as it should are critical components of this role. When things break, it’s never a fun experience. Having the wherewithal to prevent issues from happening will save the company money and keep employees happy and motivated.
Up-to-date on facility trends and technology
A savvy facility manager will keep up with the latest industry trends so they can provide the best recommendations for the company. Also, being able to recognize what trends and technology will work best for their company is crucial. Just because the competition is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right for your company. An in-tune facility manager will be able to see that.
A career in facility management is viable, exciting, and valued
Facility management is a unique career path with a bright outlook. A facility manager holds a role that is incredibly valuable to companies of all sizes, contributing not only to helping cut costs and optimizing company operations, but playing a massive part in creating a great environment for employees.
It’s a career that bridges the gaps between companies, technology, and employee experience. Those looking to pursue a career in facility management should spend ample time researching different career opportunities within this field, as there are many paths to choose.
A facilities manager’s job is never done. OfficeSpace Software can help! Contact our team today, and we’ll help you find the right solution.
Photo Credits: Philipp Birmes, Rawpixel, Pixabay