If you're highly organised, work well under pressure and enjoy coordinating and planning, the role of a facilities manager could be ideal for you

As a facilities manager, you'll be responsible for the management of services and processes that support the core business of an organisation. You'll ensure that best practices are followed for maximum efficiency and that the most suitable working environment is attained 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. You'll be 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.

Responsibilities

As a facilities manager, you'll need to:

  • prepare documents to put out tenders for contractors
  • project manage, supervise and coordinate the work of contractors
  • investigate the availability and suitability of options for new premises
  • calculate and compare costs for required goods or services to achieve maximum value for money
  • plan for future development in line with strategic business objectives
  • manage and lead change to ensure minimum disruption to core activities
  • direct, coordinate and plan essential services such as reception, security, maintenance, mail, archiving, cleaning, catering, waste disposal and recycling
  • ensure buildings meet health and safety requirements and that facilities comply with legislation
  • keep staff safe
  • plan best allocation and utilisation of space and resources for new buildings, or re-organising of current premises
  • check that agreed work by staff or contractors has been completed satisfactorily and follow up on any deficiencies
  • coordinate and lead one or more teams to cover various areas of responsibility
  • use performance management techniques to monitor and demonstrate achievement of agreed service levels and to lead on improvement
  • respond appropriately to emergencies or urgent issues as they arise and deal with the consequences.

Salary

  • Graduate/assistant facilities manager salaries range from £20,000 to £27,000.
  • As an experienced facilities manager you can expect to earn in the region of £30,000 to £45,000.
  • Senior managers can earn in excess of £60,000, and at operations director level possibly up to £85,000.

Salary variations are usually due to the sector, function and location of an organisation.

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'll generally work 40 hours per 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 all 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.
  • The work can be pressured at times, particularly when working to tight budgets or when emergencies arise.
  • 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. This could be gained from a similar role, such as management, administration or hospitality.

Facilities management qualifications, ranging from level 2 (entry) to level 7 (postgraduate), are offered by the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) and the Institute of Leadership and Management.

Search for postgraduate courses in facilities management.

Some larger organisations run graduate development programmes and these typically offer a combination of work placements and training. 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. Competition is keen and most firms ask for a minimum 2:1 degree, while some may also require a BIFM qualification.

Skills

You'll need to demonstrate:

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

A full driving license may be required, if travelling 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'll need strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work with a range of people.

Employers

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

The diversity of the work is reflected in the range of job titles. For example, you could be known as an operations manager, estates manager, technical services manager or an asset or property manager.

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:

Specialist recruitment agencies, such as Michael Page and Macdonald and Company, handle vacancies.

Professional development

Most organisations provide on-the-job training and you can supplement this by taking professional qualifications.

For example, the BIFM offers a full suite of professional qualifications in facilities management (levels 2 to 7) ranging from operational and support level through to senior management. 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.

You're 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's 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 relevant professional organisations, such as CIOB (The Chartered Institute of Building) and CIBSE - Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), can be helpful for networking, training and finding CPD opportunities.

Career prospects

It's likely you'll start your career in an assistant manager role, 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.

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

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

It's possible to specialise in consultancy and you may eventually go on to set up your own consultancy business.