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Facility Manager Certifications & CFM Career Training

Facility Manager Certifications & Education Opportunities

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, being a successful facility manager depends on a broad range of experience, education and technology. Let’s look at some key educational options that help prepare and expand a facility manager’s understanding of facilities management and also some of the best skills for any facility manager to cultivate.

Business areas in facilities management

To summarize, these business areas 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

These closely match the different experience areas that all facility manages should develop throughout of their careers.

What Do Facilities Manager certifications Cover?

The facility management role may be interpreted as a specialized aspect of engineering management that deals specifically with the planning, designing, coordination of space and 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 it 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, and external as well as internal cleaning, and safety aspects of the site. In general, it is also the coordination and harmonization of 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 organization, often associated with the administration of office blocks, arenas, schools, convention centers, shopping complexes, hospitals, hotels, etc.

However, FM facilitates on a wider range of activities than just business services and these are referred to as non-core functions

Facility manager Qualifications

Plainly a facilities manager should have a good basic education, and that ideally includes a bachelor’s degree or even a Masters in a strong technical subject such as Engineering or a science subject, though this isn’t essential and a good degree in Management studies could do just as well.

The point is that the facilities manager has a good level of background education that supports a multi-disciplined position in a company.

Facility manager certification & Education options

Certification and education opportunities are excellent ways to get an edge on the competition by becoming a leader in facility management. Here, we discuss a few ways you can become certified in facility management and accelerate your career today. 

International Facility Management Association (IFMA)

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.” There are certain basic education and experience prerequisites necessary to apply before a candidate is 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 such as architects, designers, safety engineers and service providers who want to increase their knowledge of core facilities management topics. The curriculum covers four foundational areas to build practical skills, add value and drive cost-savings to any organization. These include:

  • 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 International (BOMI) Facilities Management Certificate(FMC)

Though significantly smaller in scope, the FMC focuses specifically on how to operate, manage and maintain facilities at peak efficiency. Only three courses are necessary to complete the certification.

University of Washington’s Certificate in Facility Management

Similar courses are also offered through traditional universities. One example of this is the University of Washington’s Certificate in Facility Management. An eight-month weekend program, the coursework aligns with IFMA’s recommended focus areas and covers:

  • Key concepts in commercial facility management, strategic planning and real estate issues
  • Current sustainability trends, alternative energy, LEED certification, green building methods and technology innovations
  • Design processes for coordinating with architects, planners, engineers and contractors
  • Techniques for managing staff and communicating with tenants

Sustainability Facility Professional (SFP)

Lastly, 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.”

Additional requirements for facility manager certifications

If you do have an Engineering degree, you may want to consider going further and having a professional Engineering qualification.  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 breadth of understanding of basic engineering principles and, optionally, some elements of an engineering speciality. 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.

Alternatively, facilities management has a high proportion of electronic systems, so a degree or masters in electronic engineering and be a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) could be a suitable alternative professional qualification to a mechanical background.

Beyond the Degree

Facilities management needs to be carried out in almost every industry sector and therefore certification in subjects beyond the degree may be specific to that particular subject area.  Such qualifications could include;

  • An American Society for Healthcare Engineering of the American Hospital Association (ASHE/AHA). This kind of extra qualification would be extremely useful for a facilities management role in the healthcare sector, where there is likely to be a higher proportion of healthcare equipment that needs to be catered for.
  • ABET Accreditation. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) support 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.
  • Because facilities cover both buildings and structures, certification to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) could be an important addition to your professional qualifications which will allow you to assess and deal with a huge range of building issues.  This becomes more important if the building itself is an important part of the business – such as a building of significant historical interest – where extra care may be needed when dealing with the structure.
  • CompTIA Security+. Now the only IT security qualification that the Department of Defence (DoD) recognises and many companies are following suit. 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.

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


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