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Online Degrees in Facilities Management


Facilities managers are responsible for managing and maintaining the facilities and grounds which house the business operations of an organization. They are charged with providing a functional, productive and suitable physical work environment for all employees, as well as supervising the use of the building's grounds, equipment, and machinery.

These professionals also assist with property development and planning, and handle other project management duties. Some facilities managers may double as administrative services managers, overseeing additional tasks like recordkeeping and mail distribution.

While not always required, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have earned a college degree. For basic entry-level positions, a high school diploma may be all that's needed. However, a facilities management degree can help graduates obtain management positions within their company, particularly for positions offered in a corporate setting.

Degrees in facility management are targeted toward students who have an interest in architecture, interior design, sustainability, construction management, project management, real estate, and systems management. Academic programs range from certificate offerings to master's degrees. In the chart below, we've summarized the various types of degrees available, as well as their potential career outcomes:

Degree

Length of Completion

Potential Careers

Certificate in Facilities Management

Certificate programs typically take less than one year to complete. These programs are targeted toward professionals already working in a related industry.

Property, Real Estate, or Community Association Manager

Associate in Facilities Management

These programs typically take up to two years of full-time study to complete and are often used to transfer to a four-year program.

Property, Real Estate, or Community Association Manager

Bachelor's in Facilities Management

These programs typically take four years of full-time study to complete.

Property, Real Estate, or Community Association Manager; Construction Manager; Administrative Services Manager

Master's in Technology (Facilities Management)

These programs take up to two years of full-time study after completion of a bachelor's degree.

Property, Real Estate, or Community Association Manager; Construction Manager; Administrative Services Manager

A facilities management degree can help graduates gain entry into the profession or assist their ascent up the corporate ladder into more advanced positions. Students should consider their career goals, as well as the potential return on investment, before deciding how long to spend pursuing a degree.

Students in a facilities management degree program will obtain knowledge across a wide range of business topics. Facilities managers are often tasked with a broad set of responsibilities, including building maintenance, communicating with tenants, working with architects and construction managers, real estate planning and development, and communicating with other management-level employees regarding building systems management.

Programs focus on the importance of maintaining business grounds and equipment, and how that relates to productivity. They may also include a variety of courses focused on basic business concepts. Curriculum for campus-based and online degrees vary by school and the level of degree being sought. With that in mind, core facility management courses typically include the following:

  • Fundamentals of Facility Management
  • Principles of Space Planning
  • Technical Writing
  • Intro to Economics
  • Intro to Business Law
  • Energy Management for Buildings
  • Property Development and Planning
  • Budgeting for Operations
  • Principles of Interior Design
  • Project Management
  • Built Environment Codes and Standards
  • Supply Chain Logistics in Facilities
  • Productivity in Industry

Internship opportunities may be available at certain schools, although they are not widely prevalent. However, most degree programs do require the completion of a capstone project or thesis. These projects are designed to test the student's overall knowledge and understanding of the facilities management curriculum, and may be used to strengthen a job applicant's portfolio.

Facilities Management Degree Specializations

Specializations are rarely available while completing a degree program in this field. However, many graduates holding a facilities management degree find themselves specializing in one or more areas once they enter the workforce. After graduation, facility managers may choose to specialize in:

  • Facility Management
  • Administrative Services Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Property Management
  • Plant Management
  • Plant Maintenance Engineering
  • Building and Systems Analysis
  • Project Management

In fact, managers may be asked to assume the responsibilities of any or all of these specializations concurrently or at different times during their career. Earning an online degree in facilities management can help prepare students to meet these evolving challenges. Facilities managers may also seek to earn certain certifications and credentials, like the Certified Facilities Manager credential from the International Facilities Management Association. Some managers are required to obtain and maintain certain licenses or certifications, depending on the type of facility they manage.

In addition to maintaining and managing buildings and equipment, facility managers are also expected to be well-versed in different technologies. While face-to-face communication skills are important, these managers must be comfortable communicating with a variety of different contractors through online means. Online degree programs in facilities management can help future facilities managers become proficient with many of these technologies.

Enrolled students will use email, video chat, instant messaging, and message boards to communicate with their professors and fellow classmates on a regular basis. Some programs may even employ virtual role-playing exercises to give students the opportunity to work through scenarios they might encounter on the job.

Many prospective facilities management degree students are already working professionals, which makes online degree programs an especially good option. The nature of online courses makes them far more flexible than traditional on-campus programs. Typically, students have 24-hour access to course materials, allowing them to study at times that fit their busy schedule.

The term "facilities management" can refer to a variety of different job descriptions within the private and public spheres. Graduates holding a facilities management degree may be asked to wear any number of different hats at one time. The table below lists some of the career paths that are available to graduates, along with employment and wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Career

Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)

Mean Annual Wage (2014)

Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers

8 percent

$65,880

Construction Managers

5 percent

$94,590

Administrative Services Managers

8 percent

$92,250

An online degree in facilities management can give entry-level job seekers an advantage in today's competitive job market. For those with relevant work experience, obtaining a facilities management degree can help advance their career to the next level. Because each student's professional aspirations and work experience varies, they should carefully consider which type of degree is the best fit to help them further their career goals.

To learn more about online degrees in facilities management and individual program requirements, request information from any of the schools listed below.


Sources:
Administrative Services Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/administrative-services-managers.htm
Construction Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/construction-managers.htm
May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/property-real-estate-and-community-association-managers.htm

With two children and a full-time job, my schedule is very hectic--WGU was put on this earth for me! I was able to submit work when it was convenient for me and work at a pace that best suited me, not the highest person in my class (as I've experienced with many traditional schools). - Carlisha Moore 
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