Many institutes offer FM qualifications: the BIFM, NEBOSH, RICS and CIBSE, to name a few. There are eight levels of qualification: at level three, students learn about different service areas such as cleaning, catering and security, and this is where new entrants to the profession typically begin. The seventh and eighth levels are postgraduate and PhD level qualifications, respectively. The range in levels of qualification gives FM professionals the chance to develop their skills and move from an operational focus to a more strategic one.
Institutes also offer more specific one-day courses to enable FM practitioners to build on their knowledge and skills; for instance, PRINCE2 or Microsoft Project courses would be beneficial to project management-focused FMs. These short courses are also a great way to keep up to date with trends and legislation and meet continuous professional development (CPD) requirements.
Skills in demand
FM professionals who are knowledgeable in sustainability, environment and energy issues are sought after as more roles focus specifically on these areas; for instance, renewable energy consultant and sustainability advisor roles. FM professionals will find themselves at an advantage when applying for new jobs if they become skilled in these areas.
Choosing the right course
Distance learning provides flexibility for busy FMs, but this option does require discipline and self-motivation. The BIFM offers some work-based assessments, which place fewer demands on your time whilst enabling you to produce work that is also relevant to your company, which might encourage them to pay for it.
In the past, many employers funded their FM staff’s courses, but now more FM professionals pay for their own education. This could be due to the increasingly competitive nature of the market, but self-funding allows you to choose the topics that you wish to study, rather than those that your employer chooses for you. It also shows that you take responsibility for your self-development and in the profession in general; this makes you more attractive to future employers.
Ask prospective employers whether they offer training support in interviews. Not only is this an important consideration when choosing whether to join a new company, but it also shows them that you take an active interest in your own development.
Opening up opportunities
Whether you choose to follow a conventional FM career path or branch out into one of the increasingly specialist career paths, you can enjoy working and developing this role, which is now essential for the smooth running of many organisations. And as FM becomes more popular, continually developing your skills will ultimately provide you with more choice as you progress in your career.