Degrees Drive Success and Strategy
There are some 29 accredited FM degree programs around the world, when just a few years ago, it was a much smaller handful. “The industry has matured now that it’s about 35 years old, to the point that there is an official education process and more formal entry into the market,” Roper explains.
Degrees give graduates knowledge of the foundation of facilities management, and they’re having an easier time venturing into the job market as a result, says Stormy Friday, president of FM consulting firm The Friday Group.
“There is definitely a healthier balance of folks who come into the market with degrees and those who have moved around within the industry and worked their way up,” Friday explains. “There’s been no dramatic change because FMs tend to stay in their roles, but there is a lot of movement.”
Real estate investment trusts and property management firms are beginning to notice graduates, Bechard adds. “Looking at our LinkedIn connections, it’s encouraging how many titles are in FM, where we’d previously seen a fair percentage going into construction,” he says.
Graduate programs are becoming popular because of their wide base of study, Bechard adds. “Master’s programs touch on architecture, planning, and environmental concerns,” he says. “Essentially, students are investigating the roots of FM when they pursue those degrees.”
These programs are also intriguing for working professionals trying to break into senior management, Roper explains.
“Pursuing those degrees distinguishes somebody who’s done more study and taken more time to validate their knowledge,” she says. “At the master’s level, we teach skills like leadership, communication, and problem-solving. It’s about integrating decision-making with technical expertise.”
Another overlooked aspect of facility management involves a bit of marketing, which is incorporated into many higher education FM programs, says Friday.
“A lot of facilities folks have good data but don’t know how to mine and package it to tell their story,” she says. “It’s critical to know how to sell something up the chain. Be proactive in offering up strategic plans that will help the business.”
Certificates Sell Your Skills
“It’s great for someone to have the formal education, but there’s nothing like being on the job,” Roper says. “Companies want people who have experience. Credentials are a way to display competence.”
Depending on where you are in your career, certain certifications are better than others, Bechard explains.
“If you’re interested in pursuing an FM career and you’re coming through the trades or construction route, certifications help you see the depth and breadth of FM. They’re a great way of getting a better understanding of what the industry is actually about,” he says. “One of my colleagues has completed his Facility Management Professional (FMP) and is going for the Sustainable Facility Professional (SFP), and he’s realizing that facilities people deal with business problems, architectural design issues, and implementation of projects. Certifications provide that perspective and are tools that help you advance.”
Some certifications are for higher level FMs while others are for beginners. There are certificates for sustainability, energy management, and property administration. Many of these credentials can be earned with online coursework and testing. Some are self-study, while others offer instructor-led online classrooms. Click here for a comprehensive overview.
“Earning credentials is critical as a differentiator,” Friday says. “They demonstrate that you are interested in the profession and doing a lot of self-help. Professionals are very interested in proving their expertise and experience.”
If you’re the sustainability champion, earning LEED AP or SFP status would go a long way in proving your worth.
“It’s one thing to be the green guy, but being recognized for sustainability is important because sustainability means more than green,” Friday explains. “It means how do you deal with the bricks and mortar and how do you make older buildings sustainable into the future.”
If you’re trying to pitch energy projects and best practices, doing so equipped with a Certified Energy Manager (CEM) designation will show that you can positively impact the bottom line.
“There is a lot of emphasis on energy management these days,” Friday says. “Having the tools and training to implement major efficiency efforts has become critical.”