Are you looking to break into the facilities management field? Or, maybe, you have years of experience in facilities management, but can’t understand why you are not getting that dream job or promotion? If you have ever pondered these questions, maybe it’s time to increase your job potential and consider getting certified in facilities management. When thinking about certification in facilities management, whether you are starting out new to the field, or whether you are a seasoned employee, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before launching into the path to professional certification.
Certification is needed
John Thompson, a blogger for Goodway Technologies Corporation, which produces maintenance equipment, writes, “The days of being promoted because you are the guy who knows how the facility or power plant works are over.”
As Thompson personally explored the job market, he found that, although his 12 years of facility management experience were critical in interviews, his experience was not enough to deliver immediate job offers. Thompson needed a certification under his belt, stating, “I could not differentiate myself on experience alone.” Facilities management certifications coupled with work experience elevates the prospects of landing the perfect job or increases the chances of getting that promotion.
So, what’s out there?
The Certified Facility Manager® (CFM) and Facility Management Professional® (FMP) certifications are available through the International Facility Management Association™ (IFMA), an international association for facility management professionals. According to CareerOneStop.org, a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the CFM certification is frequently mentioned in online job postings. Carreeronestop.org also states that the popular FMP certification is American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited, which means the certification demonstrates formal recognition that the worker is competent to carry out specific tasks. IFMA states that over 7,200 professionals worldwide have the FMP certification.
In addition, Building Owners and Managers Institute (BOMI) International® offers five facilities management certifications including the Facilities Management Certificate (FMC) for workers who manage the ongoing operation and maintenance of facilities. The FMC demonstrates a worker’s ability to manage and maintain cost-effective facilities.
Facilities managers who need to be green energy conscious should consider getting certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED program includes the LEED Green Associate, which is a foundational credential, and five other advanced professional (LEED AP) certifications are available for managers to pursue. Those who work in the engineering or sustainability aspects of facilities management may want to consider the Certified Energy Manager® (CEM) certification from the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) or IFMA’s ANSI-accredited Sustainability Facility Professional® (SFP) certification for recognition of sustainable facilities management practices.
Note that these are just a handful of the certifications available for facilities management workers.
Items to consider
Cintas, a company that provides specialized services to businesses, says, “Certification tells prospective future employers that a job candidate not only has experience working within the field, but also [has] some external validation of their knowledge.” As a facilities manager, having a certification can distinguish a worker or job applicant from the rest of the job pool. Certifications demonstrate drive, determination, interest, knowledge, and skill of the worker.
However, there is much to consider before undergoing the process to certification.
Prerequisites. To obtain certifications, you will need a combination of education and experience. The CFM certification has eligibility requirements. Those with either a facility management Master’s or Bachelor’s degree must have three years of facilities management experience to qualify. Applicants with all other education levels must have five years of facilities management experience. New to the process is the addition of an ethics assessment that must be completed prior to earning the CFM certificate. Every six years, this assessment must be retaken by all CFM holders.
AEE’s CEM certificate applicants must meet both education and related experience qualifications in engineering or energy management to be eligible. Applicants who are a Professional Engineer (PE) or a Registered Architect (RA), or who have a four-year degree in engineering, architecture, technology, environmental science, physics, earth science, or business must have between three and six years of related experience depending on the degree. Applicants with a two-year Associate’s degree in energy management must have at least six years of related experience while those with an Associate’s degree in a specialty other than energy management must have at least eight years of related experience. Applicants who do not have a degree must have 10 or more years of related experience.
Other certificates, like the FMC and the FMP, do not have eligibility requirements.
It’s a good idea to research ahead to find out what is required before investing in the long process of certification.
Time to get certified. Time is a big factor to keep in mind when delving into the certification process. Applicants must know how many hours they will have afforded to them to study and how much time they can devote to additional coursework.
The FMP certification will take anywhere from 50 to 100 hours to achieve, according to Office Space Software, a facility management software company. In addition to passing four final assessments, applicants must complete four courses including Operations and Maintenance, Project Management, Finance and Business, and Leadership and Strategy. Applicants can complete the program using IFMA’s self-study program, instructor-led courses, or corporate/ group training. It’s worth noting that completing the FMP program grants LEED professionals 60 general continuing education hours.
BMOI’s FMC certification requires applicants take three courses, which may be taken in any order, to complete the certification program.
The CFM certification does not require coursework prior to the CFM exam, but the IFMA recommends that its applicants take steps to prepare for the exam by studying its 11 Competency Outline, which goes over the knowledge and experience covered on the CFM exam. There is also a practice exam available online and a 6-hour prep workshop.
Fees apply. Applicants must pay fees to apply for the certificate, to take courses and exams, and to purchase online materials to study. It can all get a bit pricey. For example, for nonmembers, the IFMA’s FMP Learning System—Full Kit (with print materials) for the FMP program is priced at $2,050 for non-members and that doesn’t include the $250 certificate application fee. The IFMA SFP Learning System—Full Kit is $2,095 for non-members. The CFM prep workshop for non-members is $375 and just the practice exam is $150. However, IFMA members can get discounts for the CFM, FMP, and SFP application and program fees. There are also U.S. General Services administration (GSA) rates available.
BOMI International has an entire list of fees for enrollment, course registration, administrative competency, online interactive learning, and more.
Upkeep. It’s important to note that there is an upkeep to some certificates. CFM certificate holders must recertify after three years, which is a process that involves completing maintenance activities from four main categories including FM-Related Education, FM Practice, Professional Leadership, and Development of the Profession. LEED Green Associates must earn 15 continuing education hours within two years of passing their test.
Goals and value
While considering the eligibility, time, and money that goes into getting certified in facilities management, it’s also good to keep your goals and the value of having a certificate in mind. Obtaining certification is an investment. Having a certificate verifies your knowledge, skills, and determination. What you will do with the certificate after its earned should be considered ahead of going through the process. Contemplate how having a certificate exemplifies your achievements to employers. Think about the ways in which the certificate can better your peers as well as yourself. Only you can decide if the value of the certificate meets your goals as a facilities management professional.