Staff & Training

Every Certification That Matters to a Facility Manager

Ryan Chan

It wasn’t that many years ago that the facility managers were seen as the poor man of the senior management team; the person who kept the machines running rather than struck out to further the companies position.

But squeezes on budgets and the need to really compete in an ever more stringent marketplace has meant that the facility manager is now the person who is looked to not only ensure that the company can continue to reliably supply its customers but does so in a cost-effective and proficient way.

Facility managers now have full professional standing and are more than just subject matter experts; they are consummate professionals with the qualifications, training, and skills needed to not only carry out their role, but to further it too and make a real mark on the company.

The facility managers position requirements split neatly in two; qualifications and skills, and while it is difficult to separate the two, they do have specific needs.

What Does Facilities Management 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


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.

Taking It Further

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.

Facilities managers have to deal with a bewildering array of systems in every sector of business.

Some of these will be generic and require a solid grounding in management to achieve while others will be far more specialized knowledge to deal with specific industry-peculiar systems which are less easy to deal with without a good deal of understanding of them.

While Facilities management is essentially a position of administration and the facilities manager is likely to have a subject matter expert if dealing with specialist business areas but having a good understanding of those never hurt.

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