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Be a Certified Facilities Manager: Certification and Career Information

Learn how to become a certified facilities manager. Research the job description and the education and certification requirements and find out how to start a career in facilities management.

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Do I Want to Be a Certified Facilities Manager?

Facility managers are responsible for the supervision of support services in an organization, which can include duties such as the management of grounds, buildings and equipment as well as the planning and developmental stages of facilities. They also direct personnel involved in maintenance and development, keep records and handle mail distribution. These administrators must be available around the clock to deal with any situations that may arise.

Job Requirements

No formal education requirements exist to become a facilities manager, and certification is voluntary. However, some positions may require a candidate to have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. In order to become a Certified Facility Manager (CFM), which may give individuals an advantage in the job market, an individual needs to have work experience along with at least some postsecondary education. The amount of work experience required varies with the level of education completed. The table below includes common requirements for facility managers:

Common Requirements
Degree Level No degree required, but a bachelor's may help with job prospects*
Degree Field Facility management, business, engineering*
Licensure or Certification Voluntary certification available*
Experience 5-10 years***
Key Skills Good analytical abilities, excellent communication skills, leadership abilities, strong attention to detail*
Computer Skills Accounting software, spreadsheet software, enterprise resource planning software, desktop publishing software**
Technical Skills Scanners, photocopiers, mobile phones, calculators**
Additional Skills Need to be available 24/7 for emergencies***

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O Net OnLine, ***Employer job postings (November 2012).

Step 1: Earn a Relevant Degree

If an individual's goal is to earn the CFM credential from the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), the first step to consider might be earning a bachelor's degree from an IFMA-approved program in facility management. Other options that meet CFM credentialing requirements include having a bachelor's degree in a relevant area, having a non-relevant associate or bachelor's degree or completing some postsecondary education (e.g. standalone certificate program). Depending on how much education a candidate possesses, IFMA work experience requirements for certification can vary from 3-8 years.

Facility management bachelor's programs can include prerequisites, such as accounting, leadership, property management and statistics coursework, that must be completed prior to acceptance into the professional program. Programs can also include internships and core topics of study that include construction management, light systems, mechanical systems, environmental compliance and regulations. Certificate programs in facility management generally have open enrollment and do not include prerequisites for program admission. Certificate programs can typically be completed in one year, and students may take up to five years for completion.

Success Tip:

  • Develop communication and interpersonal skills. Since a facilities manager works with a wide variety of people, aspiring managers need to have excellent listening, speaking and relational abilities. An individual might opt to take electives in skill-building areas such as public speaking, communications or human resources. Joining various campus or community organizations may also help an individual with networking and people skills. Demonstrating strong communication skills can give individuals an edge in the job market.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Many facility management positions require a candidate to have years of work experience for consideration. Getting several years of experience in related positions or industries, such as real estate or hospitality, can give aspiring managers the experience needed to advance in their careers. The number of years of experience needed depends on how much education an individual has completed. For example, a bachelor's degree-holder needs to complete 3-4 years of work experience to qualify for certification. An aspiring CFM should look for jobs that build experience in handling purchasing, sales, inventory stock, machinery and equipment.

Success Tip:

  • Consider earning the FMP credential. The Facility Management Professional designation is also offered through the IFMA and can be earned without work experience or education requirements. FMP certification requires completing training offered through the IFMA and taking a series of online exams. The FMP credential can show prospective employers a candidate's level of dedication and commitment.

Step 3: Get CFM Certification

Once an individual has gained enough years of work experience, the final step entails successfully passing the certification examination. After passing, the CFM designation can be used professionally. Certification lasts for three years and includes requirements for recertification. Certified Facility Managers need to earn 120 maintenance points that can be met by completing continuing education, professional involvement or development.

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