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Facilities Maintenance Training Programs and Requirements

Facilities maintenance degree programs train individuals to oversee small- and large-plant maintenance, construction, repair, renovation and redecorating projects. Facilities maintenance professionals often have varied degrees. However, the most common degree program pursued is mechanical engineering technology.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

Facilities maintenance professionals may gain their expertise by working in the industry and shadowing more experienced workers. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reports many pursue degree programs in industrial or mechanical engineering technology, architecture, construction management or facilities management.

An associate's degree program for facility managers lays a solid foundation in basic plant management processes. It prepares students for entry-level positions. A bachelor's degree program advances these same principles with more comprehensive study of mechanical systems, engineering technology and facilities management. Bachelor's degree programs in facilities maintenance groom professionals for senior-level directorial and management positions.

Formal Education

Degree programs in facilities maintenance prepare professionals to handle day-to-day plant management operations for commercial office buildings, hospitals, apartment complexes and schools. Many degree programs concentrate on heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing and electrical systems.

Associate of Applied Science

Associate's degree programs in facilities maintenance or mechanical engineering technology introduce basic drafting, engineering and machine system processes. Students take courses in drafting, DC and AC circuit analysis, hydraulics, machine operations and computer-aided design. These courses teach students how to troubleshoot and repair various mechanical systems. Graduates may find work as maintenance technicians, maintenance supervisors or quality maintenance technicians.

Bachelor of Science

Students in a bachelor's degree program for facilities maintenance professionals learn how to supervise grounds, maintenance and custodial staff, manage large budgets and maintain well-groomed facilities. Many degree programs also emphasize energy-efficient mechanical systems that reduce waste and incorporate governmental and environmental compliance regulations.

Bachelor's degree programs for facility managers offer comprehensive courses in business administration, engineering technology, information technology and architecture. Students also take courses in finance, communication and human resource management. Graduates may find work as facility managers, building and grounds directors and plant managers.

Job Experience

Practical, hands-on experience is necessary when seeking employment, especially at the managerial level. Many facilities maintenance professionals work part-time in this industry while pursuing related degrees. This offers students an opportunity to blend classroom theories with real-life mechanical issues and demonstrate proficiency and leadership to prospective employers, adding a competitive edge for hiring.

Licenses and Certifications

The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) offers professional certification for facilities maintenance professionals. This certification is voluntary, but establishes professional credentials for those seeking employment.

Entry-level professionals may obtain the Facility Management Professional (FMP) designation. More experienced professionals with formal degrees may choose the Certified Facility Manager (CFM) certification. Professionals seeking FMP certifications complete IFMA's knowledge-based program while those seeking CFM designation complete both educational requirements and competency-based examinations. Certified Facility Managers must recertify every three years.

Additional Professional Development

Facilities maintenance professionals generally work a traditional 40-hour week. However, that may require working shift work or other odd hours as needed. Additionally, some professionals may rotate on-call duties to handle any mechanical problems that occur during non-working hours. Facility managers maintain office hours with support staff, but also spend much of their day walking the grounds, supervising projects and staff. These professionals are excellent problem solvers and can communicate well with other managers, engineers, contractors and blue-collar workers.

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