Facilities Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Facilities managers are responsible for the management and administration of premises such as offices, schools, commercial properties and sporting venues, so that a safe and efficient environment is provided for the people who use the space. They provide services ranging from space management to building maintenance, administration and contract management.

Their duties may include:

  • Inspection of premises to check cleanliness and security.
  • Dealing with the failure of equipment.
  • Health and safety.
  • Waste management.
  • Pest control.
  • Checking air conditioning and heating systems.
  • Regularly inspecting the exterior fabric of buildings, including doors and windows.
  • Energy and environmental management.
  • Meetings with contractors responsible for providing services such as security and cleaning.
  • Meetings with internal staff to discuss various issues, such as changes to office location and layout.

Facilities managers must be prepared and able to respond to any problems that may occur, and must have the ability and the resources to put things right quickly. This may be a burglar or fire alarm sounding in the middle of the night, sudden flooding of a basement or failure of a heating system.

Whether working for a company directly or under contract, facilities managers usually have a dedicated team to assist in managing contractors such as electricians and plumbers working on site. They are responsible for managing this team.

They also ensure that all relevant documentation associated with maintenance activities is accurately completed and registered in a maintenance management database.
Hours and environment

Hours of work vary, but facilities managers can expect to work 35-40 hours a week between 9am and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. They are usually expected to be available at any time, day and night, in the event of emergencies. Some facilities managers have permanent contracts with their employer; others work on fixed-term contracts for the duration of individual projects.

Although they are office based, facilities managers may have to travel between premises carrying out inspections and supervising work and project.

Starting salaries are around £20,000 a year. Experienced facilities managers earn around £38,000 a year.

The most highly paid facilities managers may earn in excess of £50,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Facilities management is a large and growing field and it is estimated there are about 60,000 facilities managers in the United Kingdom.

Facilities managers are employed throughout the UK by many types of organisations including:

- Construction and civil engineering
- Banking and insurance
- Information technology
- Manufacturing and engineering
- Transport
- Public service bodies, such as the National Health Service
- Local and central government

Large organisations may directly employ facilities managers to be responsible for several office buildings. Facilities managers also work for large contracting companies who undertake buildings management on behalf of a range of clients.

Vacancies are advertised in local and national newspapers, industry magazines such as the British Institute of Facilities Management's fortnightly magazine FM World, through recruitment agencies and on recruitment websites.

Education and Training

There are no set qualifications for entry, but in practice the main entry routes are:

  • To gain initial experience in a relevant field, such as construction, building services, engineering, accountancy or hospitality, that provides knowledge and skills relevant to facilities management.
  • To obtain employment with a facilities management company and study for relevant NVQ's, such as the Institute of Leadership and Management Level 3 in Facilities Management, or British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) qualifications.
  • To study for a foundation degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND) in facilities management.
  • To study for a degree in facilities management or in a subject such as management or business studies.
  • To obtain relevant professional qualifications from the BIFM or relevant professional qualifications in surveying, estate management or accountancy.

The Diploma in construction and the built environment may be relevant for this area of work.

Academic entry requirements will vary depending on the route taken. Four GCSE's (A*-C) or equivalent qualifications may secure a job with further training, and to study for a degree, a minimum of two A levels and five GCSE's (A*-C), or equivalent, will be required. It is also possible to gain a postgraduate diploma or Masters degree in facilities management.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Once in work, facilities managers are sometimes guided on the job by experienced colleagues. Depending on their level of entry, they may choose to study part time for degree or postgraduate qualifications in facilities management, administration or building management.

Organisations that offer professional qualifications and training courses are:

  • The BIFM, which offers examinations leading to a degree level professional qualification.
  • BIFM Training, which offers short courses on specialist topics such as health and safety and property management.
  • Chartered Management Institute, which offers a range of management courses.

There are two routes to the BIFM professional qualification that assesses the knowledge and experience of facilities managers against competence standards. They are:

Examination - consisting of seven modules, usually taken over two to four years, followed by completion of a portfolio of evidence from the workplace.

Higher Education - involving successful completion of a BIFM-accredited higher education course, followed by completion of a portfolio of evidence from at least two years' workplace experience.

It is important for facilities managers to engage in continuing professional development (CPD), which is about making progress in your career by increasing your skills, knowledge and understanding and thereby enhancing your effectiveness.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A facilities manager should:

  • Have strong leadership skills.
  • Be capable of problem solving.
  • Be able to meet deadlines.
  • Have excellent communication skills, both spoken and written.
  • Have good customer service skills.
  • Have strong organisational skills and be able to meet deadlines.
  • Be skilled at negotiation.
  • Work well in a team.
  • Be able to work on several projects at the same time.
  • Have knowledge of environmental issues affecting premises.
  • Have an understanding of budgetary control.

Your Long Term Prospects

A first job in facilities management may be as part of the support team on a project. From here, progress may be to team leader for part of a facilities project, and then to facilities manager.

Managers can move into senior management posts, although it may be necessary to move between employers to progress. Some managers set up their own consultancy businesses.

There may be opportunities to work abroad.

Get Further Information

British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM),
Number One Building, The Causeway, Bishop's Stortford,
Hertfordshire CM23 2ER
Tel: 0845 058 1356
Website: www.bifm.org.uk

BIFM Training, c/o Quadrilect Limited,
3rd Floor, 112 High Holborn, London WC1V 6JS
Tel: 020 7404 4440
Website: www.bifm-training.com

Chartered Institution of Building Services
Engineers (CIBSE), 222 Balham High Road,
Balham, London SW12 9BS
Tel: 020 8675 5211
Website: www.cibse.org

Chartered Management Institute,
Management House, Cottingham Road,
Corby, Northamptonshire NN17 1TT
Tel: 01536 204222
Website: www.managers.org.uk

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS),
Contact Centre, Surveyor Court, Westwood Way,
Coventry CV4 8JE
Tel: 0870 333 1600
Website: www.rics.org

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