They’re everywhere you look in Seattle, looming over us all. Cranes. According to the most recent Crane Index, Seattle boasts a total of 43 — second only to Washington, D.C.
And with each crane comes a building, and with each building a facility manager.
What Does a Facility Manager Do?
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.”
Are Facility Managers in Demand?
O*NET OnLine predicts 7% growth in jobs for facility managers from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all jobs. It expects even greater demand in Washington state, with projected 14% growth over the decade.
When Blakey looks at the abundance of building projects in Seattle and the paucity of young facility managers, he sees a terrific job market.
projected job growth
Washington state: 14%
Washington state: $117,670
Source: O*NET OnLine
“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.
How Do You Become a Facility Manager?
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 today, 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 helps prepares students to earn the ProFM credential or for the International Facility Management Association’s exam to become a certified facility manager — credentials that attest to a facility manager's knowledge and skills.
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.”