Now is a great time to consider a career in facilities management. Because of an aging infrastructure, new technology and green building initiatives, new roles are being created to meet growing demands. Moreover, the industry resists major economic swings, as Jeffrey W. Rogers, Ph.D. from Rochester Institute of Technology explains:
“Facility management, as a profession, is a recession-proof profession. If organizations are not expending their physical assets in good economic times, they are maintaining their existing physical assets in bad economic times. Therefore, all organizations that have physical assets must hire facility managers.”
Today there are more than 7,000 unique job titles in the facility management industry, according to an IFMA report. With input from several industry experts, I have narrowed down a list of the top 5 career opportunities you should know about, along with the degrees and accreditations necessary to achieve these roles.
The Top 5 Careers in Facility Management
1) Maintenance Managers – Maintenance Managers oversee asset performance and establish routine maintenance to maximize the lifespan of assets. This includes scheduling maintenance to comply with codes and regulations, condition monitoring and determining optimal use of employees, contractors and equipment.
Dianna Rudd, President of Rudd Executive Search, explains why maintenance managers are in high demand, “Deferred maintenance and cost-cutting has led to the need to perform more maintenance in the coming years.”
Key skills: Technical problem solving abilities, working knowledge of OSHA standards and practices, certifications in boilers or HVAC is sometimes required.
2) Building Automation System Technicians – Building Automation System (BAS) Technicians oversee, manage and respond to the needs of automation systems installed in facilities. Because these systems are growing in popularity as environmental performance goals are established, having technicians who understand their complexities–and can respond to challenges they present–is crucial.
Joel Leonard, President of SkillTV and author of “Enterprise Asset Management: Avoiding a Maintenance Crisis,” says , “As facilities and organizations are installing heavily automated technologies, they need someone to be able to manage it–not only the work on it, but even the contracting and leveraging it out. This is a critical role.”
Key skills: Concise understanding of Direct Digital Controls (DDC), experience reading blueprints and schematics, exceptional mathematical skills, in-depth knowledge of electronics principles, BAS design talent is a plus.
3) Sustainability Managers and Engineers – Sustainability managers and engineers establish environmental performance goals and sustainability programs, while creating ways for an organization to become and remain efficient. Sustainability professionals also identify inefficient utilities and occupant consumption, and create strategies to optimize a facility’s performance.
With the growing number of green building initiatives, new job opportunities are growing. Leonard says, “Energy management positions are essential roles with the conservation efforts that are underway.”
Key skills: Business management or engineering degrees are often required, LEED AP accreditation is a plus, a holistic understanding of energy efficiency and consumption, facilitation of key performance indicator reports.
4) CAFM/CAD Managers – Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) and Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) managers are responsible for selecting, implementing and maintaining facility management software systems. These managers also maintain the facility’s records, oversee space planning and occupancy and are responsible for the integration and modification of current systems through programming and application tools.
More and more, facilities are relying on state-of-the-art automation systems and technologies, so having someone on board with a working knowledge of the systems behind-the-scene is a huge asset. Applicants with training in CAFM/CAD have a unique skill set that’s valuable to a facility’s function.
Key skills: Project management, space planning, drafting, excellent communication, organization, customer service and proficiency in CAFM/CAD systems, background in architecture, engineering, or construction.
5) Analysts – Analysts are important to have on staff because they closely monitor, measure and assess operational efficiency. They’re often responsible for measuring and quantifying key performance indicators such as man hour productivity, Current Replacement Value (CRV) ratios, waste audits and energy use, percent of vacancy space and utility failures and disruption avoidances, among many other metrics.
Analysts ensure operations are cost-effective and provide intervention where inadequacies and inefficient results are detected. This role helps organizations save in their operational costs.
Key skills: Ability to collect data from multiple systems for analysis, monitor data trends and detect performance gaps, create solutions to optimize efficiency.
Education & Professional Considerations
If an upper-level or executive facility management position is your goal, it’s important to get a degree–or two–along with obtaining relevant certifications. A 2011 IFMA report shows that more than two-thirds of facility managers have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Of those, 20 percent have a master’s degree or higher.
Regina F. Cahill, Associate Provost and Dean of Facilities Technologies at TCI College of Technology, sums up professional expectations:
“Employers are looking for persons who have college degrees which usually are accompanied with a higher level of critical thinking and communication skills, have the technical vocabulary and aptitude and hold certifications from the regulatory agencies of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).”
According to an IFMA report, the most common area of study for facility managers is business, followed closely by engineering. And with the sophisticated nature of building automation systems and complex equipment, having specializations in things like HVAC, electrical engineering, computerized maintenance management software, or mechanics are very valuable. A strong academic foundation and specialized certifications go hand-in-hand and open many more doors of opportunity.
Professional certifications and accreditations are offered through agencies, organizations and education institutions, and organizations look for applicants with specializations, specific expertise and active memberships. Some of the commonly preferred credentials include: Certified Facility Manager (CFM through IFMA), carry HVAC certification, be a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP) and/or carry any of the number of certifications offered through government agencies and professional organizations.
A special thank you to Shari Epstein, Associate Director of Research at IFMA, for providing comprehensive reports outlining current trends, job functions and educational backgrounds of professional facility managers. Also, a big thanks to Joe M. Samson, Professor Architecture and Facility Management at Ferris State University for taking the time to interview and offer his expertise.
Photos are courtesy of Bilfinger Berger Group.
Software screenshot courtesy of Expesite | VisionFM.