What is a facilities manager?
A facilities manager ensures that the physical environment in which an organization conducts its business is safe, efficient, and conducive to productivity. Everything from building maintenance, security, and optimization of the physical environment falls under their scope. They effectively serve as the glue that holds the physical operations of a business together, maximizing efficiency, safety, and comfort for all individuals.
The physical work environment plays a significant role in fostering productivity and engagement, and it is their job to make sure this environment is at its best. When effectively managed, the physical space can become a strategic tool to help a business achieve its objectives more efficiently. Operating in the background, these professionals might not be prominently visible, yet they significantly contribute to the organization’s success.
Duties and responsibilities
Facilities managers are responsible for maintaining the infrastructure of an organization’s building or premises, which includes heating, lighting, and other essential services, operating smoothly. This also covers the upkeep and maintenance of fixtures and fittings around the organization’s premises, ensuring that they all work optimally.
Their responsibility also extends to the security and safety of the organization’s physical environment, which could entail emergency evacuation planning, maintaining security hardware, and partnering with security staff. Additional duties might include creating and managing maintenance budgets, overseeing large-scale renovation projects, and monitoring company compliance with government regulations on building safety and accessibility.
The work environment for facilities managers does not fit the standard confines of a desk job. Their role requires moving around the premises for inspections, conducting evaluations, and overseeing maintenance activities. They often interact with various stakeholders from different departments, such as upper management, maintenance staff, security personnel, and sometimes even government officials during audits or inspections.
These professionals may also have to coordinate with vendors and suppliers for various services such as cleaning, pest control, equipment repairs, and more. This often involves negotiating terms of service, which requires sound interpersonal and negotiation skills. It’s also common for the manager to have a hand in planning and managing spaces for events or gatherings within company premises.
Typical work hours
Typical work hours for a facilities manager usually follow the standard 40-hour schedule from Monday to Friday. However, it isn’t a role strictly contained to these times. Maintenance or repair issues can arise at any given moment, and emergencies require immediate attention.
In such cases, they might require a flexible schedule and sometimes even work during off-hours or weekends. Additionally, managing large-scale renovation projects might require being on-site beyond standard office hours to ensure everything goes as planned.
How to become a facilities manager
This career guide section outlines the steps to become a facilities manager. We will explore the necessary education, work experience, useful skills to acquire, and the certification options that improve marketability.
Step 1: Acquire a high school diploma
The basic educational requirement is a high school diploma. Apart from the general subjects, focusing on areas such as English, mathematics, and any technical or science courses is beneficial, as they form a strong base for future study plans and careers.
Step 2: Pursue relevant post-secondary education
Most positions require a bachelor’s degree in facility management, business administration, or engineering. Some companies may accept candidates with an associate degree and relevant experience. The curriculum should ideally cover areas like operations management, project management, business law, financial management, and sustainability practices.
Step 3: Gain hands-on experience
Potential employers often value real-world experience. Begin with internships, entry-level positions, or job rotation schemes where you get exposure to facilities management tasks such as building maintenance, space planning, resource coordination, and safety protocol implementation. The experience serves to familiarize you with the realities of facilities management and discover the diverse challenges of the role.
Step 4: Enhance skills
Successful managers need various hard and soft skills. Key hard skills include knowledge of building systems and maintenance and project management, planning, and organizational skills. Softer skills include excellent communication abilities, problem-solving skills, and leadership qualities. Always seek opportunities to improve these skills through on-the-job experience, workshops, or courses.
Step 5: Obtain relevant certifications
Though not always mandatory, professional certifications can enhance your job prospects by demonstrating competence and commitment. Consider certifications like Certified Facility Manager (CFM), Facility Management Professional (FMP), or Sustainability Facility Professional (SFP) offered by the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA). Each one has its requirements, such as specific work experience or completion of certain courses, so it’s important to research which suits your career path best.
Step 6: Apply for jobs
Once you’ve equipped yourself with the necessary qualifications and relevant experience, you can begin applying for facilities manager positions. Prepare a professional resume highlighting your skills, experience, and certifications, and practice your interview skills. Research potential employers to understand their specific needs and tailor your application to address those requirements.
How much do facilities managers make?
There are many variables that go into determining how much a facilities manager makes, from company size to experience to education, just to name a few.
Highest paying industries
- Oil and Gas Extraction – $127,160
- Data Processing and Hosting – $122,050
- Motion Picture and Video Industries – $120,890
- Monetary Authorities – $120,260
- Offices of Other Health Practitioners – $119,670
Highest paying states
- New Jersey – $98,730
- New York – $96,130
- Rhode Island – $94,690
- Delaware – $92,260
- Connecticut – $91,520
Types of facilities managers
Below, we explore common career types and areas of specialization for facilities managers. This section provides a comprehensive understanding of some of the different career paths one might take.
Facilities operations manager
Those who specialize in facilities operations management oversee the daily functions of a building or complex. Their responsibilities may include coordinating space utilization, overseeing maintenance and repair work, conducting regular inspections, and ensuring the facility complies with health and safety regulations.
If a facilities manager focuses on maintenance, they ensure the entire facility and its systems, including HVAC, electrical, and plumbing, function smoothly. Besides scheduling and overseeing preventative maintenance, they may also manage teams of technicians or contractors and coordinate necessary repairs.
As more organizations emphasize sustainability, a focus on this area has emerged in facilities management. These professionals work to reduce an organization’s environmental impact. They may implement waste management strategies, energy-efficient systems, and other sustainable practices within a facility.
Space planning manager
A professional in this role tends to concentrate on efficiently utilizing space within a building. By considering parameters such as an organization’s growth projections, workflow, and employee needs, they help to ensure the space is used efficiently and continues to meet changing organizational needs.
Safety and compliance manager
This role ensures the company adheres to all relevant health and safety guidelines in its facilities. Regular inspections, safety audits, and worker training programs may all be commonplace in this specialization. They often collaborate with other department heads to ensure top-notch safety standards in all areas of the business.
Top skills for facilities managers
This career guide section outlines the skills and abilities that will help you find success as a facilities manager. Their extensive roles demand a wide variety of skills and traits that contribute to maintaining a safe, functional, and compliant environment, accented by optimal cost-effectiveness.
As a person responsible for the upkeep of facilities, your understanding of maintenance fundamentals is crucial. This includes an awareness of standard procedures ranging from fixing leaks to controlling HVAC systems. Equipment performance and safety are highly dependent on a steady maintenance regimen guided by thorough knowledge.
Strong leadership abilities are key to success in this role. You will often be in charge of a team that handles various tasks. You should be able to guide and motivate your team, delegate tasks effectively, and ensure your team is working harmoniously toward a shared objective.
Technical and technological proficiency
It’s important to possess a good understanding of the technology involved in facility management. From automation to energy management systems, proficiency in various technological applications will greatly aid in maintaining and improving operations. You should be able to comprehend blueprints and architectural plans and understand building codes and regulations well.
Communication and customer service skills
The ability to communicate effectively is vital in this role. You’ll interact with various stakeholders, such as tenants, contractors, vendors, and regulatory bodies. You should excel at maintaining relationships and ensuring the satisfaction of all parties involved. Excellent customer service skills are a must, as well as the ability to handle complaints and issues professionally.
The nature of facility management involves dealing with unexpected situations and problems. High-level problem-solving skills are an asset, allowing you to formulate and implement practical solutions quickly. Critical thinking and an eye for detail will help diagnose and rectify issues, ensuring minimal impact on facility operations.
Project management abilities
Projects are a key part of facility maintenance and upgrades. This means being skilled in project management, from planning and budgeting to execution and monitoring, is vital. You should be able to oversee projects, manage resources effectively, and ensure completion within set parameters.
Facilities manager career path options
A facilities manager’s career progression is dynamic and rewarding, encompassing a range of managerial positions. As these professionals continue to gain experience and refine their skills, they may eventually become senior managers. A senior facilities manager oversees multiple facilities and a team of managers. This position often involves coordinated strategic initiatives to ensure facility operations meet organizational objectives.
The role of a regional facilities manager is also a potential career advancement opportunity. This role requires managing facilities within a specified region, making sure that they fulfill both regulatory requirements and business needs. The regional role is vital for large organizations with multiple locations and ensures the usual operating procedure is consistent across different locales.
Beyond regional roles, the next step could be a national or global role, which would entail overseeing facilities’ operations nationwide or worldwide. The advancement to this level often leads to the position of director of facilities management or even vice president of facilities management for multinational organizations. With their broad range of responsibilities and organizational influence, these roles require a deep understanding of the industry, logistics, and project management along with highly developed leadership and strategic planning skills.
Finally, professionals with an entrepreneurial spirit can start their own facility or property management consulting firm. Becoming a consultant offers freedoms one might not have as an employee, such as choosing clients, setting hours, and determining fees. This path offers a unique opportunity to leverage expertise and contacts developed over a career in facilities management.
Position trends and outlook for facilities managers
In the ever-evolving world of facilities management, automation and digital transformation dictate industry trends. Managers are now leveraging technology to manage large portfolios of buildings more efficiently. This shift is particularly evident with the advent of software tools to manage tasks such as scheduling, equipment maintenance, and energy optimization. These advancements allow professionals in the field to manage their resources more effectively, streamline processes, and reduce costs.
Emerging concepts like sustainable practices and green building are also coming to the forefront of facilities management. There is an increasing demand for professionals who can implement eco-friendly practices, reduce waste and energy consumption, and contribute to the organization’s overall sustainability goals. There is also an upswing in the demand for facilities professionals with expertise in ensuring workplaces meet hygiene and safety standards.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of administrative services and facilities managers is projected to grow 7 percent through 2031, slightly faster than the average for all occupations. Tasks such as managing facilities and being ready for emergencies will remain important in a wide range of industries.
Facilities manager career tips
Understand your role
From power systems to building safety, your job will span many responsibilities. Grasping the nuances of your role and its expectations is critical for beginning your role. Remember that you are not just taking care of a building but are ensuring a safe and comfortable working environment for everyone.
Stay updated on compliance standards
Facilities management often involves keeping compliance with laws, regulations, and codes, both state and federal. Maintain a thorough understanding of these standards and frequently check for updates or changes. This proactive approach will ensure your company remains compliant and help you maintain a safe environment for employees.
Develop strong communication skills
You will collaborate with multiple teams, contractors, and vendors. Having stellar communication skills will foster effective relationships and facilitate your task execution. This includes being able to convey complex technical information to non-technical audiences effectively.
Adopt sustainable practices
Contemporary organizations are implementing more sustainable and green initiatives. These professionals are generally at the forefront of these initiatives. Understanding the importance of sustainability and how it can be integrated into your facility is key to the success of your role.
Build a professional network
Having robust professional relationships in your field can offer immense benefits, including mentorship, industry updates, insights, job opportunities, and more. Here are three professional networks for facilities managers:
- International Facility Management Association (IFMA)
- Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA)
- The Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA)
The field of facilities management is constantly evolving, with new technologies and methods being introduced regularly. Continual learning is absolutely essential to stay ahead. Below are a few suggestions for furthering your professional knowledge:
- Maintain an active membership in professional organizations to gain access to their resources
- Attend seminars, webinars, and training programs on pertinent topics such as energy efficiency, project management, and facilities planning
- Explore certifications like CFM or FMP to boost your career outlook and validate your professional competency
- Stay updated by reading trade publications and subscribing to industry news feeds
Where the facilities manager jobs are
- CBRE Group
- Cushman & Wakefield
- ISS Facility Services
- New York
Top job sites
- Facility Executive
What kind of educational background is necessary for a facilities manager?
A bachelor’s degree, often in facilities management, business administration, engineering, or related fields, is typically required for this role. Employers generally look for candidates with a good understanding of business operations, project management, and property management. An advanced degree, like a master’s in facility management, could be a plus.
What skills are essential for a facilities manager?
Besides technical understanding of building systems, facilities managers also need strong organizational and leadership skills. They must communicate effectively with various stakeholders, think critically, and handle emergencies. Familiarity with maintenance processes and knowledge of health and safety regulations is also important. Basic computer skills for managing work orders, scheduling, and budget control are also vital.
What is the typical work environment for a facilities manager?
Facilities managers work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, business buildings, hotels, and government offices. Their work often involves both an office environment and on-site grounds such as mechanical rooms, roofs, etc. They may also be required to be on-call outside regular work hours to handle emergencies.
What are usual responsibilities of a facilities manager?
Facilities managers handle the strategic planning and day-to-day operations of different facilities. They oversee building maintenance, manage facility functions and staff, ensure compliance with safety regulations, plan space utilization and layout, coordinate real estate affairs, manage budgets, and often negotiate with vendors and contractors.
Are there any certifications that could enhance my career as a facilities manager?
Several professional organizations offer certifications, and these could be beneficial in enhancing career prospects. Examples include the CFM from the International Facility Management Association and the FMP designation. Certifications demonstrate a level of knowledge and competence to potential employers.
What are the common challenges facilities managers usually face?
Facilities managers often juggle several tasks at once, ranging from managing staff and overseeing maintenance to planning future spaces and handling emergencies. Budget restrictions can make it challenging to meet all facility needs. Keeping up with ever-changing health and safety regulations, ensuring environmental sustainability, and managing the expectations of different stakeholders are common challenges.
What soft skills are important for success in this role?
Soft skills are equally important for facility managers. These include strong communication and interpersonal skills, as they will coordinate with tenants, upper management, and staff. Leadership and problem-solving skills are also crucial, as they often lead teams and face unexpected issues. Time management and flexibility can also be crucial since they often handle multiple projects simultaneously.
How can I know if a career as a facilities manager is right for me?
If you enjoy variety in your daily work, have a knack for managing multiple tasks, thrive on interpersonal interaction, and are a natural problem-solver interested in hands-on projects, you might find a satisfying career as a facilities manager. As new technologies and regulations arise, it’s also important to be interested in continual learning.
What is the significance of sustainability in facility management?
Sustainability has become an increasingly important concern for facility management. Facilities managers can contribute to sustainability by reducing energy consumption, incorporating renewable energy sources, improving water efficiency, using environmentally friendly cleaning products, and implementing recycling programs. Such strategies can not only save costs but also support corporate social responsibility initiatives.
What is the career progression typically like for a facilities manager?
Entry-level facility managers start as facility coordinators or administrators. With more experience and professional certifications, they may advance to senior managers or directors of facilities. Eventually, with extensive experience and managerial know-how, they may climb to executive positions, such as vice president of facilities management, or change branch out to become project or operations managers.
How has technology impacted the role of a facilities manager?
Technology has greatly impacted the field of facilities management. Systems like BIM, CMMS, and IoT devices have led to more effective and efficient operations. Facilities managers today need to be comfortable with these technologies and continuously stay up-to-date with the latest advancements to ensure optimal facility operations.