Reliability Leadership

Facility Manager Certifications & CFM Career Training

Ryan Chan

Like most career fields today, facilities management and facility managers face an increasing amount of change. People entering the facility manager job field come from diverse backgrounds, including those with business degrees, architects, engineers, administrators, and those specifically with facilities management degrees.

Often confronted with a “do more with less” business environment, a successful facility manager must constantly foster an attitude of continuous learning, gathering a broad range of experience, education, and technical skills. Let’s look at some key educational options that help prepare and expand a facility manager’s understanding of the trade and also some of the best skills for any facility manager to cultivate.

What Does Facilities Management Cover?

The facility management role may be interpreted as a specialized branch of engineering management that deals specifically with the planning, designing, and coordination of space. It also involves the maintenance of a built environment to enhance a mature quality service management system.

The ideology is based on the premise that, like a quality system, facilities management touches every part of the business because it has to deal with everything that makes a business run.

The facilities manager is also likely to be in control of the maintenance of machinery and systems within that environment, and the governance on all matters that relate to those items.

Facility systems may include activities like site security, catering, cleaning, and safety aspects of the site. In general, facilities managers also coordinate and harmonize various specialist disciplines to create the best possible working environment for staff and visitors to the site.

Because facility management is an interdisciplinary field devoted to the coordination of space, infrastructure, people, and the organization, facilities managers are present virtually all walks of life — in office blocks, arenas, schools, convention centers, shopping complexes, hospitals, hotels, and many other areas.

Facility Management Education and Certification Opportunities

Since facilities managers come from a wide range of backgrounds, educational levels can vary greatly. Some may have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as engineering or business. Others may have an associate’s degree in a facility management area. Even those individuals with a high school degree can combine experience with industry certifications to rise to the level of a facility manager. 

Many certifications as well as ongoing education opportunities are available in the field, providing an excellent way for you to get an edge on the competition and becoming a leader in facility management. Here, we discuss a few ways you can become certified in facility management and accelerate your career today. 

Career Enhancement Opportunities

Gone are the days of the 40-year career at the same company. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times. Since many individuals spend five or fewer years in every job, they devote more time and energy to the transitions.

As a result, many schools, associations, and private businesses are available today to help with those transitions. For those interested in entering or progressing in the facilities management field, you have opportunities to “go back to school”, take courses online, or prepare for industry certifications. Self-study and independent reading can also help you stay on top of the latest developments.

Technical School Programs for Facilities Management

Many technical schools around the country offer certificates and degree programs for facility management. Here are a few to consider:

University of California, Riverside

The program provides an overview of facilities management and plant engineering. Instructors discuss best practices, supervision, budgeting, leadership, management issues, and safety.

Baruch College’s Division of Continuing and Professional Studies in New York

Evening courses cover maintenance, security, effectiveness, and outsourcing aspects of facilities management.

New York University School of Professional Studies

Focus on leadership in sustainability and learn about resources, assets, and sustainable design.

Villanova University College of Professional Studies

Facilities management classes that can be applied to an undergraduate degree, a credit-based professional certificate, or a non-credit professional certificate.

APPA Institute for Facilities Management

Learn about general management, maintenance and operations, planning and design, and energy and utilities.

University of Washington Professional & Continuing Education

Earn a non-credit certificate in facility management that covers sustainability as well as strategic planning.

Boston University Center for Professional Education

Learn about strategic and operational components of facilities management.

University of California at Berkeley, Continuing Education

This program covers strategic planning, operations and maintenance, space planning, construction management, and project management.

City Vision University

Become well-versed in theoretical and practical lessons regarding facilities maintenance and equipment. Learn about inventory, record-keeping, preventive maintenance, health issues, and safety.

University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies

Earn an undergraduate-level certificate after studying building operations, construction management, design, and business. Students can also minor in facilities management.

Online Facilities Management Courses

If you’re looking for a way to advance in your career as a facility management professional at your own pace, consider signing up for one of these online facilities management courses.

LinkedIn Learning AutoCAD Facilities Management

Learn about CAD, 2D drawing, site planning and computer-aided facilities management.

International Facility Management Association (IFMA) Essentials of Facilities Management

A three-workshop series that covers the basics of facilities management concepts.

Red Vector 

Explore hundreds of online courses that cover all aspects of facilities management. Both certification and continuing education hours are available.

Arizona State University Continuing Education

Non-credit online certificate programs cover critical facilities management topics.

Ferris State University

Learn about programming, facility planning, project management, operations management, and budgeting.

University of California at Irvine

Earn an online facilities management program certificate that covers the fundamentals of facilities management, design and space planning, and leadership.

University of Kansas, Division of Continuing Education

Learn about managing maintenance for buildings and facilities. Topics covered include lean maintenance, cost-saving projects, and work order system management.

360 Training

Training covers building maintenance and management as well as preventive maintenance, HVAC maintenance, and facilities management.

State University of New York

Earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in the School of Facilities Management online.

Industry-Based Continuing Education

If you’re seeking a way to prepare yourself for a promotion in your current field, you may benefit from membership in various professional associations. Many of these offer certification programs designed by and for current facility maintenance and reliability professionals.

International Facility Management Association CFM

The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) is a global organization for facility management professionals. Their Certified Facility Manager (CFM) credential is acknowledged as the industry standard “for ensuring the knowledge and competence of practicing facility managers.” Certain basic education and experience prerequisites are necessary before a candidate can be assessed in 11 different areas through a comprehensive exam. 

IFMA’s Facility Management Professional (FMP) certification is designed for individuals transitioning into the facilities management profession from another profession. Architects, designers, safety engineers, and service providers can increase their knowledge of core facilities management topics through this program. The curriculum covers four foundational areas to build practical skills, add value, and drive cost-savings to any organization:

  • Operations and maintenance
  • Project management
  • Finance and business
  • Leadership and strategy

On average, individuals take 50 to 100 hours to complete all four courses and earn their FMP.

Building Owners and Managers Institute FMC

Building Owners and Managers Institute (BOMI) International, which is an independent institute for property and facility managers, offers an Facilities Management Certificate (FMC).

Individuals learn how to operate, manage, and maintain facilities at peak efficiency. Only three courses are necessary to complete the certification.

International Facility Management Association SFP

The IFMA’s Sustainability Facility Professional (SFP) is a more specialized certification focused on sustainable facility management practices. Coursework covers strategies and alignment for managing and operating sustainable facilities, including:

  • Using knowledge-based and data-driven methods to develop valuable solutions
  • Balancing sustainability and your organization’s corporate mission
  • Impacting the bottom line by maximizing facility efficiency, streamlining building operations, and implementing cost-saving projects that positively impact the community
  • LEED certification and green building trends

These SFP focus areas provide an overall picture of how facility managers can improve the sustainability of their facilities in all eight major categories of sustainable facility management as defined by IFMA: “energy, water, materials and resources, workplace management, indoor environmental quality, quality of services, waste and site impact.”

Professional Engineer Designation

Those who come to facility management with an engineering degree may want to consider obtaining a professional engineer designation. In the United States, the requirements for such a qualification are:

  • Graduate from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited four-year college or university program with a degree in engineering or, in some states, graduate from an ABET-accredited four-year college or university program with a degree in engineering technology.
  • Complete a standard Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) written examination, which tests applicants on the breadth of understanding of basic engineering principles and, optionally, some elements of an engineering specialty. Completion of the first two steps typically qualifies applicants for certification in the United States as an engineer in training (EIT), sometimes also called an engineer intern (EI).
  • Accumulate a certain amount of engineering experience: in most states, the requirement is four years, but it is lower in some. For engineering technology graduates, the required number of years may be higher.
  • Complete a written Principles and Practice in Engineering (PE) examination, which tests the applicant’s knowledge and skills in their chosen engineering discipline as well as engineering ethics.

Institute of Electrical and Electrical Engineers

Since facilities management usually involves many electronic systems, some individuals may come to the field with a degree in electronic engineering. These professionals may want to join the Institute of Electrical and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) and explore their professional certification opportunities.

Industry-Specific Continuing Education

Since facilities management needs to be carried out in almost every business sector, you may want to pursue continuing education, certifications and other professional development in your particular area. For example, some industry-specific opportunities include:

  • American Society for Healthcare Engineering of the American Hospital Association (ASHE/AHA): Joining this association and taking advantage of professional development opportunities afforded can help you if you work in health care facilities management.
  • ABET Accreditation: The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) supports college and university programs in the disciplines of applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology at the associate, bachelor and master degree levels.
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE): Because facilities cover both buildings and structures, certification under the ASCE could be an important addition to your professional qualifications, allowing you to assess and manage many building issues. This becomes more important if the building itself is an important part of the business. For example, if a building has significant historical interest, you may need to understand the extra care required to deal with the structure.
  • CompTIA Security+: This is now the only IT security qualification that the Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes, and many companies are following suit as a result. If you are looking at facilities management positions in IT-heavy businesses, having CompTIA Security+ certification is likely to be seen as important.  You might also consider CompTIA Network+ for a network-heavy organization.

General Business-Related Skills for Facilities Managers

Since facilities managers regularly interact with employees, suppliers, other departments, and perhaps even customers, they must have basic business skills. The following skills should be fostered throughout their career and may include:

  • Communication skills
  • Emergency preparedness and business continuity
  • Environmental stewardship
  • Finance
  • Human factors
  • Leadership and strategy
  • Operations and maintenance
  • Project management
  • Quality control
  • Real estate and property management
  • Technology utilization

Through education, experience, and using the right technology tools, a facility manager becomes an important link within any business – beyond daily building operations.

This article was updated with new information in June, 2020

Please enter a valid email address