Becoming a certified facility manager has potential benefits and goes beyond the standard career trajectory. Do they align with your career goals?

Is the IFMA’s Certified Facility Manager Credential Right for You?

Leadership Professional Growth

There are benefits to being a certified facility manager, but it’s important to understand if the benefits are worth the effort.

Thinking about becoming a Certified Facility Manager (CFM)? Like any big decision, it’s important to look at all the potential benefits of becoming professionally certified, as well as gain a complete understanding of what is involved. After all, knowing the facts up front is the only way you can make the best possible decision for your own individual situation.

The Industry Standard

The ultimate goal of the CFM credential helps set the industry-wide standard for cementing the knowledge and competence of practicing facility managers. The International Facility Management Association’s CFM certification process assesses competency through education, work experience and a comprehensive exam that covers 11 competencies in facility management. Each of these core competencies addresses an area of need within the facility management sector, including communication skills, emergency preparedness and business continuity, environmental stewardship, finance, human factors, leadership and strategy, operations and maintenance, project management, quality control, real estate and property management, and technology utilization.

Potential Career Benefits

Certification tells prospective future employers that a job candidate not only has experience working within the field, but also some external validation of their knowledge. You may not be considering a new position right now, but it’s always wise to protect your marketability since economic fluidity often makes job security unpredictable.

When you enter a tight job market, having a professional certification could potentially distinguish you from the crowd. It demonstrates a level of interest, skill and determination that furthers your knowledge base and standing within the industry. It also shows that you have the tenacity to keep those skills sharp year after year, and tells current employers that you’re willing to take on additional responsibilities.

Down to Details

To qualify to take the CFM exam, you’ll need a combination of education and experience. Candidates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in facility management from an IFMA accredited institution must have at least three years of field experience. However, candidates with only some post-secondary education need five year’s experience in facility management to qualify to take the exam. Although IFMA doesn’t require any specific coursework, it provides a variety of resources to help prepare candidates for the exam. After completing an application, candidates are required to take a pass/fail four-hour exam that consists of 180 multiple-choice questions, administered through a computer-based test.

Certifications are valid for three years. Between certifications, CFMs are required to earn 120 maintenance points in at least two of the following categories, including practice, continuing education, professional involvement and development of the profession.

There are costs and time involved in obtaining and maintaining the CFM designation. If you don’t intend to stay in the field, pursuing certification may not be cost effective. If you’re working within a highly specialized field, there may be other certifications that are more pressing. For instance, if you’re managing a chemical facility, it may make more sense to dedicate resources to gaining more understanding of chemical interactions.

Other Options

The CFM isn’t the only certification option available today. For instance, BOMI International offers a Facilities Management Certificate (FMC), a training-based certification that provides an overview of information that is vital to running an efficient facility. The FMC program offers students a comprehensive understanding of how to manage and maintain cost-effective facilities that operate at peak performance levels. There are only three courses required to obtain the certification, and courses can be taken on-site or online.

The Right Path for Your Career

Earning a professional certification can put you on the path to a salary increase or position change that could significantly impact your career. But before you take the leap toward certification, make sure you’re fully educated about all your options and take advantage of all the resources available to you.

Peter Fretty
Peter Fretty

As a highly experienced freelance journalist, Peter Fretty has written thousands of feature articles and cover stories for an assortment of trade journals, business publications and consumer magazines. With a B.A. in Business Management and an M.B.A. in Marketing and Communications, Fretty spent roughly fifteen years working in various capacities in the aerospace, automotive and telecommunications industries. Fretty has since worked with over forty publications as well as co-authored a book with Dr. Shelton Rhodes which focuses on government contracting.