How To Start Your Career in Facilities Management
Facilities management is at the heart of the success of any business. It’s a wide-ranging industry that’s always in demand. Roles in FM are gaining growing recognition as workplace design becomes more critical to productivity, health, and wellbeing, especially after the pandemic. It’s a relatively easy sector to enter with competitive salaries along your career path. And with more access to educational programs specialising in facilities management and a range of apprenticeships, there’s never been a better time to start a fruitful career in facilities management.
If you’re interested in a career in FM, here’s what you need to know about moving into this exciting career.
What is facilities management?
The main goal when you start a career in facilities management is to help increase a company’s efficiency and support its vital activities. Facilities management is necessary for public and private organisations, covering all specialisms. Therefore, a career in facilities management can be very varied, depending on where you choose to work. However, there are two major types of facilities management, Hard FM and Soft FM. Hard FM relates to physical structures and systems. Things like plumbing, electrical maintenance, heating systems. Soft FM is closer related to property management. Areas such as cleaning, security, ground maintenance fall into this area of FM.
However, all FM involves two different levels of operation:
1. Strategic and tactical work.
You’ll work with clients, customers, and departments to help them understand the impact of their decisions on every part of the facility and how it’s run.
2. Operational roles
Carrying out tasks with specific knowledge and highly trained skills that protect employees’ health and wellbeing
FM is a combination of several disciplines covering people, place, technology and process. You’ll require skills and knowledge, including business management and administration, knowledge of economics and accounting, computer literacy and customer service skills.
The different ways to enter facilities management
There are many ways to start your career in facilities management. Whether it be as an apprentice, through a range of temporary roles, or starting with a permanent role right from the start. Depending on whether this is your first step into work, or you are looking for a career change, there’s lots of options. Here are just a few –
Often underestimated, cleaning is one of the most important aspects of facilities management. These roles are vital for the aesthetic value of a property, and it can positively impact the morale of those that work in or visit the building. Groundskeeping also falls into this area. But it’s important to know that it’s not just entry level roles within this area of FM. Higher-up roles can involve coordinating the efforts of large teams, maximising productivity, and creating the very best environment.
Maybe you want to specialise in electrical maintenance? Or gas, or even heating and air conditioning? Anything that appears to run passively in an office usually works so well due to facilities management. If you choose to work in hardware maintenance, it’s not just fixing things that break. The idea of this career in facilities management is creating a maintenance schedule that minimises breakdowns, increasing the life of equipment and reducing costs for businesses.
Environment, health & safety
A recent study (Nov 22) stated that most graduates are looking to ‘make a difference’ in their job. Therefore, if you choose a career in facilities management, you could achieve this quite quickly. When it comes to the environment, achieving net zero is one of the top priorities for many companies across the world, and FM has a key role to play. You may find our blog Why Facilities Management is the Key to Achieving Net Zero an interesting read.
Workspace planning is an area that has seen considerable change since the pandemic. We are using office space in a different way than previous and our needs from our buildings has changed. Many businesses are looking for ways to increase productivity in their teams. And the answer could sit with facilities management. Take a look at our blog Increase Productivity with Good Office Design for a more in-depth look at this area.
Operational / Managerial
Facilities management is all about integrating processes that allow buildings to run as smoothly as possible. You’ll oversee managing essential services including maintenance, health and safety, procurement, security, communications, and space management. By creating a productive work environment you’ll help and support employees to achieve business goals.
You’ll also be responsible for business relocation, working closely with property, IT and HR. You’ll also be expected to work closely with designers and builders and be responsible for developing strategies for building sustainability through energy and resource-saving.
What skills will I need for a career in facilities management?
You’ll need excellent people skills and have a keen interest in logistics. People from a military background often find FM is a good fit for their skillset.
You’ll need to be self-motivated and capable of solving problems and overcoming obstacles to keep processes running smoothly. You’ll be orderly and methodical in the way you achieve your objectives and you’ll be able to demonstrate impeccable organisational skills.
Most organisations are reliant on facilities managers, especially in a crisis. If you have leadership skills and great intuition, then a career in FM could be right for you.
We’ve written a blog that you may find of interest – 5 Must-Have Skills for a Career in Facilities Management
The must-have behavioural competencies for facilities management
Behavioural competencies are important when it comes to roles in facilities management. If you are looking to start your career in facilities management, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate most of these skills –
People skills – Facilities management is a people focused job. With all the recent significant personal and professional challenges many have experienced over the last 2 years. Therefore, empathy tops the list of people skills. Demonstrate your ability to understand how someone could be feeling and express concern and understanding for them. But this isn’t where the people skills end. The role of facilities management is to make the building environment the best it can possibly be for the people who use the space. Understanding people’s needs and creating solutions is key.
Communication skills – You’ll be dealing with lots of different people every day. Therefore, being able to communicate effectively, build connections, learn what motivates people and be able to influence your colleagues and inspire people. These are skills that can be developed, and all improve continually throughout your career. Always be aware of the way you communicate and how people respond to keep improving in this area.
Analytical & problem-solving skills – When you work in facilities management, you will deal with a lot of information that requires problem-solving skills. It’s important to know that not everyone who works in FM has all the answers. Therefore, you will often be faced with things that you’ll need to tap into your excellent problem-solving skills to be able to effectively come up with solutions. As part of FM can be financial planning and budgeting, whilst you don’t need to be a mathematician, you’ll need to be able to analyse data and make decisions based on it.
Positive can-do attitude – When you choose a career in facilities management, you’ll often face problems that need resolutions. And this is where a positive, ‘can-do’ attitude is vital. Despite best efforts when it comes to maintenance, things sometimes stop working. Attitude is critical, bot only to your success, but to your survival in FM. Radiate positivity and showcase your ‘can-do’ attitude and you will shine.
Routes into facilities management
- Applying directly for jobs that fit your technical and management skills, or if you have a related qualification in engineering or surveying
- Working towards the role and gaining an on-the-job qualification like a Level 3 Diploma in facilities management
- An apprenticeship in FM usually takes between 18 to 24 months. It’s a mixture of paid work, training and hands-on experience for a lifetime of possibility. Apprenticeships are not just for school leavers – they are for anyone aged 16+, so if you are looking for a career change, his could be the next best step. Find out more at IWFM.
- A foundation or university degree in facilities or building services management
Why you should consider a career in facilities management
This is a rapidly growing profession and businesses are increasingly aware of the critical role FM plays in the smooth running of day-to-day operations.
A career in facilities management means that no two days are ever the same. You’ll have a chance to make a real difference to the business and the people working in your building. The challenges and responsibilities you’ll face are always changing but your skills in problem-solving and staying calm in a crisis make this a rewarding career.
You can also view all our latest jobs on our website.
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