The word “certified” in front of anything is enough to raise an eyebrow in interest. It’s even more intriguing in places you might not expect to see it, as in the prefix to a job title. What makes a certified facility manager special, as opposed to a regular facility manager?

As it turns out, there’s an important distinction that comes with being a certified facility manager. As is the case with most things that are certifiable, it’s a mark of vetted excellence and quality, and it’s important to explore if you’re in the market to hire a professional to oversee and optimize your facilities.

What is a facility manager? 

To understand what makes a certified facility manager special, it’s worth looking at the baseline expectations for this position. What does a facility manager do? Recognizing the duties and responsibilities of a facility manager (FM) will shed light on why pursuing a certified facility manager is such a smart move for growing companies. According to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA):

FMs contribute to the organization’s bottom line through their responsibility for maintaining what are often an organization’s largest and most valuable assets, such as property, buildings, equipment and other environments that house personnel, productivity, inventory and other elements of operation.

While there are six core focuses of facilities management, a facility manager tends to be more of a generalist, tasked with overseeing broad workplace objectives. Depending on the company, this can mean anything from building maintenance, to IoT systems, to employee safety, and beyond. The scope of a facility manager’s job duties depends on the many ways facilities factor into operations.

What distinguishes a certified facility manager? 

While it’s clear that the “certified” part of a facility manager’s job title is a distinguishing feature, what, exactly, does it mean? Used correctly, it’s meant to signify a professional who has earned a certificate relevant to facility management. Some of the most common certificates include:

Any of these certifications showcase a facility professional as someone with formal training and education in the field. They’ve taken courses, passed exams, and met the standards of organizations like IFMA and the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM). More important, certified professionals maintain membership to these organizations, which puts them on the leading edge of new insights, technologies, and practices.

In a nutshell, a certified facility manager has gone above and beyond to pursue formal accreditation of their skills and knowledge, and continues to advance these traits throughout their tenure in a position. Certified professionals have committed themselves to the discipline of facilities management.

How to get certified as a facility manager 

As mentioned, the path to certification goes through industry associations like IFMA and IWFM. These organizations are the gatekeepers of everything from resources to educational materials, and they’re responsible for upholding the standards companies come to expect when they hire a certified facility manager.

Eager professionals first need to obtain a membership to these organizations—IFMA for North Americans; IWFM for those in the United Kingdom. There are other global organizations, like the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), but these are the two represent the primary educators and certification bodies for facility management professionals.

After becoming a member, professionals can opt to enroll in the organization’s professional development programs. Depending on the certification you’re pursuing, the program may include different time commitments and cover different materials. For example, IFMA offers three primary certifications: FMP, SFP, and CFM, with the first two serving as precursors to the third.

After enrolling in a certificate course, professionals will educate themselves on industry standards and materials, complete modules, and pass exams to prove their knowledge. Most certificate programs end with a final exam as proof of competency. After passing it, a facility manager officially makes the leap to “certified facility manager.” But it doesn’t end there.

Certified facility managers need to maintain their accreditation by completing ongoing educational modules and continuing education credit (CEU) hours each year. This keeps them up-to-date on new developments in their field and ensures their certification is still relevant in an ever-evolving industry.

Certification benefits companies and employees alike 

The “certified” in front of a facility manager’s job title isn’t just for show. It’s proof of their commitment to their career and showcases an understanding that’s likely above and beyond what uncertified professionals can offer. As is the case with most certifiable things of quality, it may cost a company more to hire on a certified facility manager, but in the end, it’s an expenditure that pays for itself.

Keep reading: What Is A Facilities Manager?

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Jonathan writes about asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions in his role as a digital content creator at Eptura. He covers trends across industries, including fleet, manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality, with a focus on delivering thought leadership with actionable insights. Earlier in his career, he wrote textbooks, edited NPC dialogue for video games, and taught English as a foreign language. He hold a master's degree in journalism.