Are you looking to break into the facilities management field? Or do you have years of experience in FM, but can’t understand why you aren’t getting that dream job or promotion? You may be considering getting certified in facilities management as a way to increase your job potential. Which certification should you pursue? How much time do they take? What per-requisites do you need? We tell you what you need to know before making that decision.
Is Certification Needed?
John Thompson, a blogger for Goodway Technologies Corporation writes, “The days of being promoted because you are the guy who knows how the facility or power plant works are over.”
As Thompson 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 decided he needed a certification under his belt. “I could not differentiate myself on experience alone.”
Thompson’s experience is not unique. While it’s possible to find a job in FM without a certification, you may find that added credentials open up more job opportunities. You may find jobs that require certification provide a higher salary or more leadership responsibility. Even if you are happily employed, knowing what is being asked of other professionals within your industry can provide a helpful benchmark of whether certification is right for you.
What Certifications Are Available?
Certified Facility Manager® (CFM), Facility Management Professional® (FMP), and Sustainability Facility Professional (SFP) certifications are available through the International Facility Management Association™ (IFMA), an international association for facility management professionals.
The FMP and SEP certifications are American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited, which means the certifications demonstrate formal recognition that the worker is competent to carry out specific tasks.
IFMA states that over 7,200 professionals worldwide have the FMP certification. Learn more about these certificates on the IFMA website here.
Building Owners and Managers Institute (BOMI) International® offers five facilities management certifications. This includes 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.
See all available certificates on the BOMI website here.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program is available from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED offers professional credentials for sustainable design, construction and operations standards.
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.
Association of Energy Engineers Certifications
The Certified Energy Manager® (CEM) certification from the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) is an ANSI-accredited program. It is also recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy.
AEE offers additional certifications in lighting, water, power, renewable energy, and more. Many certifications are recognized internationally.
These are just a handful of the certifications available for facilities management workers. As certifications are added, we will update this list with additional programs.
Prerequisites for Certification
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.
- Professional Engineer (PE) or Registered Architect (RA) applicants, or those who have a four-year degree in engineering, architecture, technology, environmental science, physics, earth science, or business must have 3-6 years of related experience depending on the degree.
- Applicants with a two-year Associate’s degree in energy management must have at least 6 years of related experience.
- Applicants with an Associate’s degree in a specialty other than energy management must have at least 8 years of related experience.
- Any other applicant who does not have a degree must have 10 or more years of related experience.
Many other certificates including the FMC and the FMP do not have eligibility requirements. Make sure 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 need to devote to study and how much time they can invest in additional coursework.
The FMP certification will take anywhere from 50 to 100 hours to achieve, according to Office Space Software. In addition to passing four final assessments, applicants must complete four courses. These courses include 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. These courses may be taken in any order to complete the program.
The CFM certification does not require coursework prior to the CFM exam. However, the IFMA recommends that its applicants take steps to prepare for the exam by studying its 11 Competency Outline. This outline 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 & Cost
Applicants must pay fees to apply for the certificate. There are also course fees, exam fees, and a cost for many online study materials. It can get a bit pricey.
IFMA Certification Costs
IFMA’s FMP Learning System—Full Kit (with print materials) for the FMP program is priced at $2,050 for non-members. That does not 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. 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.
It’s important to note that there is an upkeep to some certificates. CFM certificate holders must recertify after three years. This 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 before 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.