They’re everywhere you look in Seattle, looming over us all. Cranes. According to the most recent Crane Index, Seattle boasts a total of 65 — more than Los Angeles and San Francisco combined.
And with each crane comes a building, and with each building a facility manager.
A facility manager administers the day-to-day operations of a building, keeping an eye on everything from its budget to the happiness of its tenants.
“On the one hand, the facility manager is responsible for overseeing the maintenance and repair of everything having to do with a facility,” said Robert Blakey, an instructor for the Certificate in Facility Management, offered through UW Professional & Continuing Education. “On the other hand, they are responsible for tenant safety and comfort throughout the building.”
Whether managing a high school, a stadium, a biomedical center, an office building or an airport, a facility manager must both focus on the nitty-gritty — complying with governmental regulations and following proper building code — and use softer skills, like directing maintenance staff and handling tenant concerns.
“It’s a very customer service-related position. I think it’s important to have that temperament,” said Michael Tinker, a member of the Certificate in Facility Management’s advisory board and the associate director of facilities at UW Continuum College. “It’s a very technical job in a lot of ways, but it also really gives you an opportunity beyond the technical.”
A Booming Industry
For the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ purposes, facility manager falls under the category of administrative services manager, and the BLS forecasts 10 percent growth in this position from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all jobs. O’NET OnLine expects even greater demand in Washington state, with projected 18 percent growth.
When Blakey looks at the abundance of building projects in Seattle and the paucity of young facility managers, he sees a terrific job market.
10% expected growth from 2016-2026 (faster than average for all jobs)*
Median Annual salary
$75,378 in Seattle (23% above national average)**
*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
“I think the market's excellent in the Seattle area,” Blakey said. “Not only has there been significant growth as far as the number of facilities in the last several years, but, in addition, many of us are well past 50 years of age and are at the point where we’re getting ready to retire from the industry.”
It's an especially exciting time for facility managers in the Seattle area, as the intersection of sustainability and technology provides an opportunity to maximize efficiency and harness advanced tech.
Building Automation Systems, for example, give facility managers direct digital control on heating and cooling systems, which “allow you to manage multiple building systems in a highly efficient, sustainable manner,” Tinker said.
Though facility managers may not have needed a college education in the past, the landscape has changed in recent years, Tinker said.
“In previous surveys they found back over a 20-year period that a majority of people who were facility managers really had no formal training in that field,” he said. “It was such a wide variety of people. I think that’s changed really dramatically now.”
Blakey has found that, these days, an educational background in facility management has become a vital component to landing an industry position, and the certificate's coverage of the field's 11 core competencies gives students a huge educational boost.
Though traditionally not a prerequisite in the field, a bachelor’s degree is “absolutely” a requirement in 2018, Blakey said, and the certificate program will only help increase an applicant’s chances of climbing the professional ladder.
“The Certificate in Facility Management becomes a very useful tool for people who are interested in making the transition from more of a hands-on worker in the industry to more of a manager," Blakey said.
The certificate also provides an opportunity for students to either prepare for the International Facility Management Association’s exam to obtain their Certified Facility Manager credential — which Blakey called the industry’s “gold standard” — or accrue maintenance points that count toward credential recertification if they've already passed the test.
Get Started in Facility Management
Interested in starting or advancing a career in facilities management? Visit the Certificate in Facility Management web page to learn more about the program or to sign up for an informational meeting.
“Facility management is an opportunity for a very stimulating career if you’re driven and have that kind of passion, interest and curiosity,” Tinker said. “The only limitations are your willingness to work and learn.”