The Complete Guide to Facilities Management Career Paths and Advancement

August 31, 2022

A career in facilities management is a great option for those who are organised, like to work independently and are natural problem solvers. It is truly a fast-paced career choice that will enable you to have autonomy in your role. There is also excellent career progression available, making it a popular choice for ambitious professionals. And finally, it is a well-paid role, with most facilities managers earning around £42,000 per year, with added benefits.

So, if you are considering a career in facilities management, what can you expect? In this article, we will explore the various facilities management career paths available to you, as well as the skills and qualifications you will need to succeed. We will also look at the average salaries for facilities managers in different sectors, so you can decide which one is right for you. And in the final section, we will explore career progression and how you can advance your career in facilities management.

What is facilities management?

Facilities management (FM) is the process of planning, designing, constructing, operating and maintaining buildings and other structures. This could mean managing an office block, or it could mean overseeing a construction site. You might work in one place all of the time, or you might move between sites. 

It covers a wide range of activities, from building maintenance to event management. Facilities managers are responsible for ensuring that all the systems in a building work together efficiently and effectively. They are also responsible for the safety of building equipment and facilities while also ensuring that all procedures are followed correctly.

The role of a facilities manager is to ensure that a company's premises are well-maintained and safe for employees, customers and visitors. They are responsible for a wide range of tasks, including:

  • Maintenance of buildings and grounds
  • Health and safety compliance
  • Energy management
  • Security
  • Catering
  • Cleaning
  • Transportation

Some typical day-to-day tasks that would fall on the shoulders of the facilities manager include:

  • Arranging for repairs to be carried out
  • Managing maintenance contracts
  • Handling customer enquiries
  • Ensuring that health and safety standards are met
  • Carrying out risk assessments
  • Supervising cleaning staff
  • Organising meetings and events

Facilities managers need to have a broad range of skills in order to be successful in their roles. They must be able to communicate effectively, both written and verbally. They must also be able to work well under pressure and be able to think on their feet. It is also important for facilities managers to have a good understanding of building systems and how they work together. This includes:

  • HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning)
  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing and sewage
  • Recycling facilities
  • Fire safety
  • Life safety systems
  • Security systems

Some facilities managers will specialise in a single area, while others take a broader approach and offer all of these services as part of a wider team. In smaller buildings and structures, the facilities manager will likely work alone, but they might be part of a large team when they are taking care of a larger structure or facility.

As energy-saving measures become more important, the role of the facilities manager is also taking on a new dimension. Many facilities managers are tasked with making buildings and structures greener, more energy efficient, and more comfortable for inhabitants.

Where does a facilities manager work?

Facilities managers can work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Commercial office buildings
  • Retail stores
  • Hotels
  • Hospitals
  • Manufacturing plants
  • Schools and universities
  • Event venues
  • Construction sites

There is a lot of scope for facilities managers to move around within their careers. They can progress from managing a small venue like an office to a much larger facility. However, working in a larger facility isn't always the end game. Some facilities managers are more interested in highly specialist work, such as working in renewable energy or on construction projects. The size of the facility isn't always in direct correlation to the intensity or seniority of the role. And since this is a role that is in demand all over the world, there is the possibility of some international travel.

difference

What is the difference between facility management and property management?

Facility management and property management are two closely related but distinct fields. Property managers are responsible for the day-to-day running of a building or group of buildings, while facility managers are responsible for the systems and services within those buildings.

Property managers might be responsible for tasks such as:

  • Rent collection
  • Maintenance requests
  • Tenant relations
  • Lease administration

Facility managers, on the other hand, might be responsible for tasks such as:

  • Maintenance and repair of building systems
  • Health and safety compliance
  • Security
  • Cleaning
  • Catering services
  • Waste management and recycling
  • Retrofitting energy-saving measures

In larger organisations, there is often a team of both property and facilities managers that work together to provide a cohesive service. While the property manager is often public-facing, the facilities manager will liaise with contractors to get work completed in a timely manner. So while the two might both be involved with the maintenance of a building, the roles are very different.

How much does a facilities manager earn?

The salary of a facilities manager will vary depending on factors such as their qualifications, experience and the size of the organisation they work for. In the UK, the average salary for a facilities manager is £37,332 per year.

In entry-level roles such as facilities supervisors, starting salaries will be closer to £22,947. In comparison, the average salary for a director of facilities is around £73,072. 

Your location will also have a big impact on your earning potential. Those living in big cities such as London and Manchester will earn more than those in regional hubs. And finally, working in dangerous environments could also increase your earning potential. 

For example, working with chemicals, in a nuclear setting, or in a dangerous location such as an oil rig will allow you to earn more money. These roles may come with long periods away from home and anti-social hours.

There are other ways to increase the value of a role. For example, you might enjoy benefits such as a company car, private healthcare and a pension. In some cases, you might also be able to negotiate your salary and hours. 

Some employers allow you to buy more holiday time or maximise your pension contributions. Or you could enjoy flexible working hours. When negotiating your contract, these are all things to consider in order to increase the value of the role. Since facilities managers are in high demand, you will be in a good position to negotiate, especially if you are trained in a particular field.

Becoming a facilities manager

Now that we have explored the function of the role and how much you can expect to earn, let's look at how you can become a facilities manager. 

There are many routes into the profession, but the most common is to have a related degree. This will allow you to hit the ground running in a new role, or take on a graduate training scheme to help kick start your career. Relevant degrees include:

  • Construction management
  • Building Surveying
  • Environmental Health
  • Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Safety and risk management

However, it is not essential to have a degree in order to pursue a career in facilities management. Many employers will accept applications from those with experience in other fields, such as customer service or project management. 

If you don't have a degree, it might be worth considering taking some professional qualifications, such as the NEBOSH National Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health. This will give you the skills and knowledge you need to develop your career. Some facilities manager work their way up, starting out as a facilities assistant and then progressing to a supervisor before finally making it to the manager level.

Before you decide if this is the right career choice for you, let's look at the skills and qualifications you will need in order to succeed as a facilities manager.

What skills do you need to be a facilities manager?

There are certain skills that are essential to becoming a facilities manager and a few that will make your role a lot easier if you can master them. The sector and area of speciality will also play a big role in the skills that you need to succeed. 

If you take a hands-on approach to maintenance, you may need specific technical skills, whereas someone who takes a managerial approach will be better served by developing their people management skills. Here are just some of the skills and personal competencies you will need as a facilities manager:

Problem-solving

In order to be successful in their role, facilities managers must also be excellent problem solvers. They need to be able to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems that may arise. Being able to work well under pressure is also essential, as is being able to stay calm in stressful situations. You might have a lot of conflicting demands, and you will need to be able to stay on top of everything. This is a skill that may come naturally to you, or you may develop this skill while on the job.

Communication

As we have already mentioned, it is important for facilities managers to be excellent communicators. They need to be able to liaise with a wide range of people, from contractors and suppliers to customers and clients. Being able to build strong relationships is essential in this role. You might be communicating in person, over the phone and in writing. Therefore, it is important that you are confident in all forms of communication.

Organisation and planning

Facilities managers must also be excellent at organisation and planning. This is because they need to be able to manage a lot of different tasks and projects at the same time. They will often have to work to tight deadlines, so being able to plan and organise their workload is essential. Time management skills are also key, as is being able to prioritise tasks. They need to be able to plan and execute projects on time and within budget. They must also be able to keep track of maintenance schedules and deadlines. They will often work independently, so they need to be able to manage their own workload.

Commercial awareness

As we have already mentioned, facilities management is a business-critical role. Therefore, it is important that those in this profession have commercial awareness. This means understanding how the business operates and knowing what the organisation's goals and objectives are. It also involves being aware of the wider business world and how this will impact your organisation. For example, rising fuel costs would make a savvy facilities manager want to know what steps they can take to cut costs. This kind of awareness will be essential to making yourself invaluable within an organisation.

Leadership

Facilities managers should also be natural leaders. They will often be tasked with managing large teams of contractors and suppliers. They need to be able to motivate and inspire those around them. They also need to be able to instil a sense of pride in their team and make sure that everyone is working towards the same goal. You don't have to be a natural-born leader to excel in this kind of role. You can learn good leadership by taking steps to gain experience and asking questions as you go. Understanding people and how they work is one of the best ways to become a better leader. And it’s also worth noting that the best leaders will lead from behind, not from the front.

qualifications

What qualifications do you need to be a facilities manager?

There are no specific qualifications required in order to become a facilities manager. However, as we have already mentioned, it is possible to secure a degree in facilities management or another relevant field. This will give you the theoretical knowledge and skills that you need for the role. However, it is also possible to enter the profession without a degree.

There are many facilities managers who have started their careers in other roles and then progressed into management. If you do not have a degree, then it is important to make sure that you have the relevant experience. This could be gained through working in a customer service or admin role. It is also important to have good IT skills and be able to use Microsoft Office applications such as Excel and PowerPoint. Being able to use project management software would also be beneficial.

It is also important to have good people skills. As we have already mentioned, being a good communicator is essential in this role as you will be dealing with people at all levels of the organisation. Some facilities managers will also deal with the public and will therefore need to be confident in any situation.

The best way to develop these skills is with a degree in facilities management, but there are other degree programmes to consider, including:

In order to land a spot at a good university, you will also need to secure GCSEs and A Levels. Most courses will require Maths and English grades of at least A-C. Some may request more specific qualifications such as business management or design technology.

While not essential, having a degree in one of these disciplines will give you the skills and knowledge that you need to be successful in this role. You could also enter the sector as an apprentice. This involves working towards a professional qualification while also gaining on-the-job experience. This is a great way to learn about the role and progress in your career. Apprenticeships also lead to professional qualifications, but you will start your career with far more on-the-job experience, which can set you apart from the competition.

As with anything in life, you'll get out of it what you put in, so if you are engaged with the learning process throughout your apprenticeship, you can expect to progress quickly in your career.

What are the responsibilities of a facilities manager?

The responsibilities of a facilities manager will vary depending on the organisation that they work for. However, there are some common duties and tasks that are associated with the role. These include:

  • Managing budgets
  • Organising maintenance and repairs
  • Making sure health and safety standards are met
  • Dealing with customer enquiries
  • Ensuring compliance with environmental regulations
  • Liaising with suppliers and contractors
  • Leading the charge for green energy
  • Managing staff
  • Overseeing construction projects
  • Ensuring resources are available when needed
  • Overseeing repairs
  • Implementing health and safety regulations
  • Providing support to other departments within the organisation

As you can see, the role of a facilities manager is extremely varied. It is important to be able to think on your feet and be proactive in order to deal with issues as they arise.

What entry-level jobs are available in facilities management?

There are a number of entry-level jobs available in facilities management. These include:

  • Office Manager
  • Facilities Coordinator
  • Maintenance worker
  • Cleaning staff
  • Health and safety officer
  • Receptionist

As you can see, there are a number of different roles that you can perform within facilities management. Each role has its own set of responsibilities, so it is important to choose one that you feel you would be good at. It is also important to consider the size of the organisation that you want to work for. If you want to work for a large organisation, then it is important to have experience in managing budgets and staff.

If you are looking for an entry-level job in facilities management, then it is important to broaden your search to include more than just facilities manager roles. Many people start out as a facilities assistant, working under the facilities manager. This will allow them to build their experience and develop their skills. Over time, you might be promoted to a supervisor role with limited job responsibilities. And finally, you could work your way up to facilities manager. As the manager, you might be overseeing your own team of supervisors and assistants. 

What are the career progression opportunities in facilities management?

Career progression in facilities management is relatively good. If you start out in an entry-level role, then there are a number of different positions that you could move into. These include:

  • Assistant Facilities Manager
  • Facilities Manager
  • Director of Facilities Management

The role of an assistant facilities manager is to support the facilities manager. This usually involves managing budgets, coordinating maintenance and repairs, and dealing with customer enquiries.

The role of a facilities manager is to oversee all aspects of the facilities department. This includes managing staff, budgets, and construction projects.

A director of facilities management is responsible for all aspects of the facilities department, including strategy, budgeting, and operations.

How do you advance as a facilities manager?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to advance your career as a facilities manager will vary depending on your individual goals and objectives. However, there are some common paths that many facilities managers take in order to move up the ladder.

One option is to pursue higher education, such as a master's degree in facility management or a related field. This can help you qualify for more advanced positions and earn a higher salary. You could also choose a degree in a specific area to allow you to specialise in one area of facilities management, such as HVAC or electrical engineering.

Another option is to seek out certification from professional organisations. Gaining recognition in the form of a Certified Facilities Managers (CFMs) credential can greatly increase your earning potential. Certified Facilities Managers typically earn more than those without certification, and the credential can also open doors to new job opportunities. This is also a globally recognised qualification, so you could potentially work anywhere in the world with this. If your aspirations are to work overseas at some stage in your career, then this type of qualification could help you to secure a job.

What is the future of facilities management?

What is the future of facilities management?

The job outlook for facilities management is extremely positive. The sector is growing at a rapid pace, and there is a real need for qualified individuals to enter the profession. This demand is only set to increase in the coming years as organisations recognise the importance of having someone in this role.

There are many exciting opportunities available for those with the right skills and qualifications, so now is a great time to start a career in facilities management. With the right training and experience, you could soon be in a position to advance your career and earn a good salary.

There are also excellent opportunities for growth and development, so you'll never become bored or stagnant in your role.

At the height of your career, you could progress to a director of facilities role, which would typically mean that you are overseeing multiple facilities and a large workforce. You could also be involved in decision-making at a director level, which would mean you would have plenty of control of the future of your organisation.

In the next 50 years, we can expect new structures to be built, and existing structures will need to be retrofitted with green technology and brought up to date. These tasks will all require the expertise of a qualified facilities manager. With the right skills and qualifications, you could be at the forefront of this exciting industry.

So, if you're looking for an exciting and challenging career, then facilities management could be the perfect choice for you. There are many different paths you can take to advance your career, and with the right training and experience, you could soon be earning a good salary and enjoying excellent job prospects.

What are your career goals as a facilities manager?

As a facilities manager, you may have several goals that you hope to achieve during your career. Perhaps you aspire to move up the ladder to a director-level role, or maybe you simply want to become the best possible facilities manager that you can be. This could be confirmed through positive feedback from employers, coworkers, clients or members of the public.

No matter what your specific goals are, there are certain things that you can do to help increase your chances of success. Pursuing higher education, such as a master's degree in facility management or a related field, is one way to make yourself more marketable and qualified for more advanced positions. You could also choose a degree in a specific area to allow you to specialise in one area of facilities management, such as HVAC or electrical engineering.

Another option is to join a professional organisation, such as the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). This could give you access to resources, networking opportunities and events that would help you to develop your skills and knowledge.

There are also various certification programmes available that can help to improve your employability.

The Certified Facilities Manager (CFM) credential is one option that is recognised globally, so it could open up doors to new job opportunities both in the UK and overseas.

By taking steps to further your education and enhance your skills, you can increase your chances of achieving success in your facilities management career.

What challenges do facilities managers face?

There are various challenges that facilities managers face on a daily basis. One of the most common challenges is managing multiple conflicting demands on their time and resources. Learning how to quickly assess a situation and determine the best course of action is a skill that will serve you well as a facilities manager.

Another common challenge is dealing with difficult or uncooperative employees. As the manager, it will be your job to ensure that all employees are productive and working towards the goals of the organisation. You'll also need to deal with any disciplinary issues that may arise. Although many issues will be dealt with by HR, there are some things that you will need to tackle head-on, particularly when there is a safety issue involved.

In some cases, you may also be responsible for managing a budget. This can be a challenging task, as you'll need to find ways to save money without compromising the quality of your facility.

You'll also need to be prepared for unexpected problems that could occur, such as equipment failures or extreme weather conditions. Having a plan in place for how to deal with these kinds of situations will help to minimise any disruption to your facility. In many cases, these aren't things that you can learn until you experience them. But being aware of what could go wrong will help you to feel more prepared.

What training is available for facilities managers?

There is a range of training courses available for facilities managers. These can be taken online, through distance learning or at a physical location. Many universities and colleges offer specific facilities management degrees and qualifications, which could lead to career progression.

The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) offers various certification programmes that are recognised globally. These could help you to develop your skills and knowledge in specific areas.

Certain professional organisations also offer training courses for facilities managers. For example, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIB) offers a Level 4 Certificate in Facilities Management.

Some employers may also offer in-house training for their facilities managers. This could be an opportunity to learn more about the specific systems and equipment used at your facility, as well as the company's policies and procedures.

In conclusion, there are various career paths and advancement opportunities available for facilities managers. By taking steps to further your education and enhance your skills, you can increase your chances of achieving success in your career. There are also various challenges that you may face, but being prepared for them will help you to overcome any obstacles that come your way.

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