A facilities manager is the ultimate organiser, making sure that a workplace meets the needs of employees by managing all of the required services

In this job, you will be responsible for the management of services and processes that support the core business of an organisation. Facilities managers make sure that an organisation has the most suitable working environment for its employees and their activities.

This is a diverse field with a range of responsibilities, which are dependent on the structure and size of the organisation.

Facilities managers are involved in both strategic planning and day-to-day operations, particularly in relation to buildings and premises. Likely areas of responsibility include:

  • building and grounds maintenance;
  • cleaning;
  • catering and vending;
  • health and safety;
  • procurement and contract management;
  • security;
  • space management;
  • utilities and communications infrastructure.

Your duties will probably vary depending on the nature of the organisation, but will generally focus on using best business practice to improve efficiency, by reducing operating costs while increasing productivity.

A facilities manager can be employed in all sectors and industries and the diversity of the work is reflected in the range of job titles, for example operations, estates, technical services, asset or property manager.

Responsibilities

Responsibilities often cover several departments, as well as central services that link to all the teams in the organisation. In smaller companies, duties may include more practical and hands-on tasks.

Many facilities managers are responsible for either one or many sites. Some organisations outsource their facilities management services and use specialist facilities management providers. In these cases, facilities managers may work for a firm offering all services or one that offers specific services such as catering.

Typical tasks may include:

  • preparing documents to put out tenders for contractors;
  • project management and supervising and coordinating the work of contractors;
  • investigating availability and suitability of options for new premises;
  • calculating and comparing costs for required goods or services to achieve maximum value for money;
  • planning for future development in line with strategic business objectives;
  • managing and leading change to ensure minimum disruption to core activities;
  • directing, coordinating and planning essential central services such as reception, security, maintenance, mail, archiving, cleaning, catering, waste disposal and recycling;
  • ensuring the building meets health and safety requirements and that facilities comply with legislation;
  • keeping staff safe;
  • planning best allocation and utilisation of space and resources for new buildings, or re-organising current premises;
  • checking that agreed work by staff or contractors has been completed satisfactorily and following up on any deficiencies;
  • coordinating and leading one or more teams to cover various areas of responsibility;
  • using performance management techniques to monitor and demonstrate achievement of agreed service levels and to lead on improvement;
  • responding appropriately to emergencies or urgent issues as they arise and dealing with the consequences.

Salary

  • Assistant facilities manager salaries range from £20,000 to £27,000.
  • Salaries for an experienced facilities manager are in the region of £26,000 to £45,000. Senior managers can earn in excess of £60,000.
  • Salaries at operations director level can reach £70,000.

Salaries vary depending on the sector, function and location and are highest in London and the South East.

The increase in public-private partnership funding has increased opportunities in facilities management and these projects are more likely to offer financial bonuses and better salary increases.

Additional benefits often include a pension scheme, private healthcare, performance related bonuses, company car or car allowance and profit share or share-save schemes.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

You will generally work a 40 hour week, but longer hours may be required on occasion to meet project deadlines or to cover emergencies.

Some facilities management roles require shift work in order to cover 24-hour operations.

What to expect

  • Opportunities exist all over the UK in both the public and the private sectors.
  • You may be required to work at different premises and absence from home overnight is sometimes necessary.
  • Long-term projects may demand flexibility or relocation.
  • There are good opportunities for overseas work for those with experience.

Qualifications

You don't need to have a specific degree to enter this role but the following subjects may improve your chances:

  • building management;
  • business studies;
  • construction;
  • engineering and building services engineering;
  • facilities management;
  • hospitality;
  • management;
  • surveying;
  • property.

Entry with an HND or foundation degree is also possible, particularly with subjects such as facilities management, business studies or management.

Entry without a degree or HND is possible for those with the right combination of skills and experience.

Facilities management apprenticeships at levels 2 and 3, and higher-level apprenticeships at levels 4 and 5, are also available.

For qualifications in facilities management ranging from level 2 to 7, with levels 2 and 3 being suitable for new entrants, see the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM).

For those considering a move into facilities management the level 3 Facilities Management qualification is offered by the Institute of Leadership and Management.

Postgraduate diplomas and Masters are available and may be particularly useful if you have an unrelated first degree and are looking to change career and move into facilities management. Search for postgraduate courses in facilities management.

It is also possible to move into facilities management from related roles such as:

  • accountancy;
  • hospitality and estate management;
  • surveying.

It is common for those with building services and engineering, office management and administration backgrounds to enter facilities management.

There are some graduate development programmes available with larger organisations. These typically provide a combination of work placements and training, providing graduates with the opportunity to get direct experience at the same time as acquiring professional qualifications.

If you manage to get on one of these schemes you may have the opportunity to specialise in a particular field, such as security or retail, or may rotate around different departments to get a breadth of experience. Competition is keen and most firms ask for a minimum 2:1 degree in business or engineering, while some may also require a BIFM qualification.

Skills

You will need to demonstrate:

  • interpersonal, relationship-building and networking skills;
  • procurement and negotiation skills;
  • the ability to multi-task and prioritise your workload;
  • time management skills;
  • project management skills;
  • research skills and the ability to draw information from various sources, including people;
  • clear and concise writing skills and the ability to handle long and complex documents;
  • team work skills and the ability to lead and motivate others;
  • IT skills;
  • a practical, flexible and innovative approach to work.

A full driving licence is usually required for travel between sites.

Work experience

Pre-entry experience is desirable and a placement year in industry from a relevant degree can be particularly useful for gaining skills and building a network of contacts. Experience can be particularly useful in areas such as:

  • administration;
  • building;
  • business;
  • construction;
  • engineering;
  • management.

Having some previous experience in the hospitality sector is also valuable as you will need to have strong interpersonal skills and the ability to get on with a range of people.

Employers

Facilities managers are found in virtually every kind of business in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Job titles vary to suit particular portfolios of responsibilities.

Larger organisations are more likely to require a facilities manager with a strategic overview of a range of functions and supporting services. Typical employers include:

Look for job vacancies at:

Recruitment agencies handle vacancies.

Professional development

On-the-job training is provided by most organisations and graduates can supplement this training by taking professional qualifications.

For example, a full suite of professional qualifications in facilities management (levels 2 to 7) ranging from operational and support level through to senior management level are offered by the BIFM. The BIFM also has a number of special interest groups (SIGs) and regional groups who help support facilities managers through networking and career development.

Masters degrees are an increasingly popular qualification for the sector. In addition, Sheffield Hallam University and Liverpool John Moores University both deliver the BIFM Level 7, which forms an integral pathway towards a Masters in facilities management.

Facilities managers are also expected to undertake continuing professional development (CPD), usually made up of external short courses and in-house training. Common areas of training include health and safety, legislation and regulation, as well as practical and business skills training.

For some roles, it is necessary to gain qualifications offered by the:

If you have an undergraduate or postgraduate degree accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) you can become a chartered surveyor within the RICS Facilities Management (FM) Faculty. To do so you must successfully complete the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC), which is a structured training programme lasting two years.

Membership of the BIFM and other organisations relevant to your area of expertise can be useful for networking, training and CPD opportunities, see the

Career prospects

You can start your career in assistant manager roles focused on one operation, such as cleaning, catering or maintenance. You may then progress to manager of the department and subsequently move into general management where you would be in charge of all the operations.

There may be area, regional and sector management roles to follow before achieving director level.

It is also possible to specialise in consultancy and some facilities managers go on to set up their own consultancy business.

If you work in a small organisation, career progression may be dependent on moving to a larger company which has more managerial roles to offer.

Seeking opportunities to work with different operations and functions is a useful way to secure career progression and gain further experience.

Facilities managers are also well placed to take up other general management jobs within their organisations or in different sectors.