If you are already a facility manager, you know that the heyday of Schneider in TV’s One Day at a Time has long been over. Heck, in reality, if you are currently an FM, you probably haven’t even heard of the goofy, apartment complex handyman (FM) Dwayne F. Schneider.
Regardless of what you know about sitcoms from the 70’s and 80’s, the truth is the days of the uneducated facility manager are long gone (assuming they were ever here). Nowadays, facility management is a profession that requires skills and education.
But, just how much education do FMs need to advance in their careers?
The answer to this question is a bit of a Catch-22. On the one hand, FM’s of today do indeed need specific educations since they are tasked with ensuring factories, hospitals, office buildings and campuses run smoothly. To do this, a FM needs to have the ability to complete multilayered tasks such projecting costs and operate complex tools such as facilities management software. However, the problem is that there is a real lack of schools offering Facility Management degrees.
FMs just coming into the industry and FMs who have been on the job for years are finding that they can still advance their careers by either getting degrees in other fields, such as in finance, architecture, business, or, say, engineering, or by taking a series of courses to earn certificates in the different disciplines of Facility Management. Speaking about this trend, Kathy Roper, associate professor and chair of integrated facility management at Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Building Construction, said, “There are a number of people who have expertise in technical, management, or financial areas and have successfully applied those specialties to Facility Management.”
Other Facility Management insiders warn that despite the importance of a sound and relevant education, FMs must not forget the value real world experience. "If you've got credentials starting in, you're starting with a leg up on a lot of other people,” said Stormy Friday, president of consulting firm The Friday Group. “I think credentials are extraordinarily important and they give you a definite competitive advantage in a facilities organization, but experience molds that credentialing into practical reality within the culture of the company you're working for and the culture of the FM department."
And therein lays the answer. FMs need enough education to demonstrate that they are serious about their careers and are deserving of an opportunity. This will, as Friday said, give them a "leg up." But, to rise quickly, today’s FMs need to likewise have the experience of actually keeping facilities running effectively and operating facilities management software and other complicated physical assets.