The FM Professional

What the New FM Master’s Degree Says About the Future of Facilities Management

David Spence
February 6th, 2014

FM’s Development in Years to Come

ID-100116546British newspaper The Star recently reported that Sheffield Hallam University and The Facilities Management Association are offering an online facilities management master’s program. The program is intended to teach those who entered the field without formal FM experience, such as office managers and building regulators, the skills they need to maximize their potential as facility heads. While the creation of the program is great news for those without formal FM education, it also says a few important things about facilities management in general.

1. It’s Its Own Entity

Facilities management is coming into its own right as a field; though many FMs have degrees in business or engineering, it’s no longer just an offshoot of those two areas. While facilities management isn’t offered by a large number of schools, it seems that more and more institutions are recognizing the need for formal facilities education.

Besides the program offered by Sheffield Hallam University, other online programs are available through Purdue University, Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, and Rochester Institute of Technology. On-campus programs are also offered by New York’s Pratt Institute and Cornell University. These schools are recognizing that while business and engineering knowledge is useful, facilities management also requires its own special set of skills and expertise.

2. It’s Not Going Away Anytime Soon

Facilities management is far from a dying and unstable field. That new graduate programs for FM have emerged over the past few years is proof of this. Plus, the very nature of a facilities manager’s job is tied up with many different aspects of the business, making their role indispensable. As technology becomes more sophisticated, concerns about energy usage and other eco-issues become more pressing, and businesses strive to make their employees more productive, facilities managers will need to be on hand to weather these challenges.

3. It’s Friendly to Career Transitioners

The prevalence of online programs also makes facilities management a good field for those who are seeking to change careers while they already work full-time. Others may not have an online component but still provide other options for workers. (Pratt Institute, for example, offers evening classes.)These flexible options make facilities management a good choice for those who need to balance receiving an education while still earning their bread and butter.

4. It’s A Mix of Perspectives

As The Star article notes, the master’s program at SHU has been designed to bring facilities managers from different backgrounds up to speed with new graduates. This implies a diversity in perspective for the field in general. While some young individuals may enter the market with a freshly-printed diploma in facilities, older FM professionals may use their unique backgrounds in management or business or engineering to bring innovative solutions to their on-the-job challenges.

Interestingly, the perceived need to place seasoned professionals on par with new graduates seems to conflict with an FMJ article reporting a shortage of younger facilities managers. Perhaps this is due to different FM demographics in the U.K. versus the U.S., but regardless of where they live, one thing is for certain: Both groups can benefit from the other. Younger professionals can bring in new ideas and perspective, while older professionals can provide seasoned advice and guidance. Facilities management thus attracts a mix of perspectives and experiences.

Overall, I predict a bright future for facilities management. Whether you’re looking to change careers, begin working in the field, or simply looking to fill in some knowledge gaps, FM is ripe for those who want to succeed in the industry.

What do you see in FM’s future?

image credit: david castillo dominici/freedigitalphotos.net