Facilities managers, also known as administrative services managers, help ensure that organizations operate efficiently by expertly planning and directing building-related services. For example, a facilities manager could allocate office space to different departments, ensure that water pipes are properly maintained, analyze energy expenditures, and procure major equipment. These tasks require a broad training background, for they integrate principles of business administration, information technology, architecture, and engineering.
In 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Services (BLS) projected that career opportunities in facilities management would mirror those of the general economy, growing a steady 12 percent through 2018. However, competition is keen and is expected to remain so. Facilities managers who can demonstrate competencies in a wide number of areas – including cost-cutting for better profitability – tend to have the best prospects for career advancement.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
The duties of a facilities manager vary with company size and managerial rank. Small companies tend to have just one facilities manager, and larger companies tend to have many – including a manager of facilities managers.
Job responsibilities at a small organization could be all-encompassing, making the facilities manager essentially an office manager as well. For example, he or she might oversee the installation of a telecommunications system, allocate parking spaces, ensure that a company’s insurance coverage is kept up-to-date, plan for the long-term structural integrity of the building, and assume a variety of other responsibilities.
In contrast, the job responsibilities of a manager at a large organization could be much more specialized. For example, a facilities manager could be devoted to overseeing printing and reproduction services for multiple departments, managing telecommunications, or supervising custodians and security staff. Managers can also specialize in transportation, the acquisition, storage, and disposal of equipment, and a number of other areas. In large companies, it takes all types.
Environmentally-friendly facilities management is also becoming increasingly important to businesses. Accordingly, more facilities managers are learning to evaluate energy expenditures and propose alternatives that save money and reduce their organizations’ impacts upon the natural environment.
Training and Education Requirements
It’s possible to land a job in facilities management after gaining appropriate real-world experience without a formal degree. For example, a person could work his way up from the loading dock to manager of a shipping facility. Having a background in real estate, construction, or interior design could also prove advantageous in an interview, depending on the job. However, facilities management positions are overwhelmingly reserved for people with at least associate’s degrees. An associate’s degree provides adequate preparation for management jobs in printing, security, IT, and communications departments. For other types of facilities management positions, candidates with bachelor’s degrees in general business or a business specialty area (e.g., business administration, facilities management, human resources, accounting, or finance) are usually preferred.
Associate’s degree courses in facilities management generally take a year to complete, although online programs can sometimes be completed in a year. Sample managing facilities course titles include “Introduction to Facilities Management and Engineering,” “Blueprint Reading for Building Trades,” and “Principles of Management.” Some facilities management programs also have specific modules or tracks. These let students specialize in managing casinos, health care centers, information technology centers, government properties, non-profit organizations, recreation centers, and other specific types of grounds and buildings.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in facilities management or a related field is typically a four-year endeavor. Areas studied are as varied as accounting, business law, computer applications, engineering, and human resources; a variety of interests can be accommodated. All students are encouraged to secure internships during undergraduate study, as these training opportunities often lead directly to employment or otherwise help improve job prospects.
Salary and Wages
Salaries and bonuses for facilities managers vary greatly by region and industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual wages for facilities managers in May 2008 were approximately $73,520. The bottom 10% of earners brought home less than $37,430 in the past year, and the top 10% reported earning more than $129,770.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Managing private enterprises is an especially lucrative option in this field. Facilities managers with hospitals, universities, and all levels of government also report relatively high earnings. Private consultants can also earn handsome paychecks.
People entering the facility management profession can seek the Facility Management Professional (FMP) credential. This is a stepping stone to the CFM or Certified Facility Manager designation. Both certifications are awarded by the International Facility Management Association.
Reliable information about degree programs, other training, and careers in facility management can be obtained from the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). IFMA is the world’s largest professional association of facilities managers and has been operational since 1980. http://www.ifma.org. 1 East Greenway Plaza, Suite 1100, Houston, TX 77046-0194.
Information about training and classes for professional office management can be obtained from the Association of Professional Office Managers. http://www.apomonline.org. P. O. Box 1926, Rockville, MD 20849.