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Facilities managers are responsible for managing and maintaining the buildings 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 record keeping and mail distribution. Because of the important role energy efficiency and use of sustainable materials is likely to continue to play, facilities management jobs maybe increasingly important in coming years.
Detail-oriented people who are interested in developing smart, creative solutions for businesses may be interested in pursuing a facilities management degree online and entering this profession. For those with relevant work experience, obtaining a facilities management degree can help advance their career to the next level.
What do facilities managers do?
A facilities manager's work may include anything from basic record keeping and changing light bulbs to more in-depth management, maintenance and planning functions. Duties may include:
- Hiring and supervising security, maintenance and grounds keeping personnel
- Performing repairs and maintenance or overseeing others who perform these activities
- Ensuring that facilities meet environmental, health and safety standards and comply with certain regulations
- Recommending changes to policies or procedures to improve operations
- Overseeing renovation projects or upgrades to energy-efficiency or sustainability aspects
- Purchasing and monitoring equipment
- Manage facilities budget and project planning tasks
Facilities management vs. operations management
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) describes facilities management as "a professional discipline that touches every organization, large and small." The facility in which a company or organization resides has a significant influence on the company's functioning especially in terms of finance, efficiency, compliance, as well as in terms of sustainability and environmental impact. Those who work in facilities management aim to integrate people, place and processes not only for the advantage of people but for a company's profit and productivity.
Operations management has to do with improving the operations of a company rather than the facility in which it is based. It is the role of the operations manager to develop, improve and manage processes, particularly outdated or underperforming processes, with an aim to reduce costs, maximize profit and increase customer satisfaction. For extensive information on online degrees in Operations Management, click here.
Benefits of Earning an Online Degree in Facilities Management
Facilities managers typically need to have good working knowledge of current technology. Online degree programs in facilities management can help students to become proficient with many of these technologies, as they usually are led by industry professionals. Additionally, the style of learning required in online courses involves self-motivation, frequent communication, attention to details and flexibility — all valuable skills for facilities managers to possess.
As a future facilities manager, your work is likely to heavily involve communication, with employees, with organizational leaders, with vendors or contractors, with architects and engineers and even government workers. Fortunately, online facilities management courses provide numerous opportunities to hone these skills. Online programs typically use face-to-face video conferencing, emailing and instant messaging, message boards and even the occasional internship opportunity, so you can employ what you've learned in the field.
Additionally, because many prospective facilities managers are currently working, the flexibility of earning a facilities management degree online makes good sense. The nature of these programs means that students can log on to their classes at times and locations that fit into their already busy schedules.
Occupations and Career Outlook
The term "facilities management" can refer to a variety of different job descriptions within the private and public spheres. Those with facilities management degrees may go on to work in places like schools and hospitals to manufacturing facilities, banks or government buildings. The following table from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers insights into the potential occupations available to graduates of online facilities management programs, as well as where the most promising job opportunities are expected to be.
Projected Job Growth
(2016 - 26)
|Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers||186,720||$72,370||10.7%|
|Administrative Services Managers||270,100||$103,380||10.1%|
Choose a degree that can help you meet your career goals
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. Curriculum for campus-based and online degrees can vary by school and the level of degree being sought.
Internship opportunities may be available at certain schools. 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.
Students should consider their career goals, as well as the potential return on investment, before deciding how long to spend pursuing a degree. Whatever your current level of experience and training, there are programs to fit your needs, from certificates to master's degrees.
Online Certificate Programs in Facilities Management
What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?
Students in a facilities management certificate program can expect to study a wide range of business topics. After all, the work of facilities managers usually includes more hands-on responsibilities such as building maintenance, as well as tasks more associated with managers, such as 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.
Typical duration: Eight months to a year
Typical coursework: Online certificate programs in facilities management are designed to provide comprehensive training in operations, maintenance, budgeting and business planning. Students can expect to learn about safety, security and environmental factors that affect this work.
Of course, programs and schools all differ, but courses typically include such subject matter as:
- Fundamentals of facility management systems and practices
- Operations and maintenance management
- Environmental health and safety
- Building systems
- Construction and project management
- Planning and design management
Certificate programs in facilities management usually include foundational courses in communications. Training usually is more concentrated on management in addition to hands-on equipment and technology work. Students may expect to study the latest sustainability trends, such as alternative energy and green building methods, as well as how to manage staff and work with tenants.
Certificate programs may include real-world projects that enable students to build a professional portfolio of work.
What can I do after earning a certificate?
Certificates may be a great method for mid-career professionals in construction or business occupations to move into facilities management careers. Many certificate programs can lead to official certification from the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) which when completed can put you in better standing with future employers.
Online Associate Degree Programs in Facilities Management
What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?
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. To prepare for their roles, students in an associate degree program in facilities management can expect to obtain knowledge across a wide range of business topics. Programs usually 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.
Typical duration: Two years
Typical coursework: Associate degree courses usually include basic foundational courses in facilities management, applied technology and interpersonal communication, in addition to core requirements such as math, science and the humanities. However, a two-year program also tends to emphasize higher-level management concepts, such as construction and project management, personnel management and strategic planning.
What can I do after earning an associate degree?
An associate degree combined with two or three years of experience may qualify you for an entry-level position as an associate manager in various industries such as construction, property and real estate.
Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Facilities Management
What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor's degree program?
Similar to associate degree programs, online bachelor's degree programs in facilities management emphasize the importance of maintaining business grounds and equipment and how that relates to productivity. A bachelor's program, however, includes additional information to help students learn to integrate humans, the natural environment and the built environment together to ensure efficiency, sustainability and high levels of productivity. Students may expect to spend considerable time on architecture and construction topics as well as organizational psychology and leadership.
Typical duration: Four years
Typical coursework: Exact curricula vary by school and program, of course, though 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
What can I do after earning a bachelor's degree?
Four-year programs also may culminate in internships or senior capstone projects that offer students the opportunity to complete real-world facilities management work that can become part of their portfolios. You can be eligible to apply for positions as a facilities manager, maintenance director or property manager.
Online Master's Degree in Facilities Management
If you're already working in the fields of operations, construction, architecture, facilities engineering or manufacturing, a master's degree program in facilities management can provide an opportunity to extend that learning by upgrading your knowledge in the areas of planning, policy, finance, energy or personnel management. This may be especially helpful in preparing students who want to seek employment with higher-level or larger organizations. These programs are intended to prepare graduates to go right into leadership positions. A master's program can lead to positions such as administrative services manager, facilities manager, or IT director depending on your specialization. Combining a master's with credentials like FMP or CFM may open up more opportunities for C-suite positions.
To learn more about online degrees in facilities management and individual program requirements, request information from any of the schools listed below.
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.
The accreditation process ensures that any institution of higher education meets a standard level of quality, so that students can be assured of receiving appropriate training for the field. Accrediting bodies, which are private organizations that may have a regional or national scope, evaluate schools to determine whether certain objectives and criteria for learning in certain subjects are met.
This is particularly important in the field of facilities management, a position that involves considerable work on a day-to-day basis with high-level technology and computers. Accreditation ensures that your education prepares you with the most workplace-relevant and up-to-date training in these technologies.
The Facility Management Accreditation Commission (FMAC) is the International Facility Management Association's accrediting body, and it develops, mentors and oversees many certification programs. It's essential to complete an accredited program in order to be eligible for certifications.
Some managers are required to obtain and maintain professional certifications in facilities management, depending on the type of facility they manage. Here are a few examples of certifications that may be obtained:
- Facilities Management Professional (FMP)
- Certified Facility Manager (CFM)
- Facilities Management Certificate (FMC)
- Certified Educational Facilities Professional (CEFP)
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.
Scholarships and financial aid programs
- FM Student Scholarship Program
- APPA Scholarships for Facilities Management
- Western Washington University Scholarship for Facilities Management
Other resources for aspiring facilities managers
- International Facility Management Association
- Facility Executive
- Buildings: Smarter Facility Management
- International Organization for Standardization