The Importance of Academic Qualifications in the world of Facilities Management

A discussion which often arises in the world of FM is the impact (or lack of) that academic qualifications have on both personal development and career progression for professionals within the industry. Results from our most recent Facilities Management salary survey would suggest that opinions on the matter are a bit of a mixed bag, with some people feeling their qualifications have been integral to their success, whereas others have found them to be pretty pointless! From our perspective, there’s a few reasons why this is such a divisive topic…

 

“I just fell into FM”

This seems to be a phrase we come across quite a lot recruiting in Facilities Management. For many professionals in the sector, their movement into FM has been a gradual one. They may not have necessarily set out with this career path in mind, yet their roles have evolved and expanded over time. In many of these cases, they have gotten to the position they’re in through experience, circumstance, or just by pure chance! This often means they either haven’t needed to, or haven’t been required to, gain academic qualifications to progress in their careers.

Qualifications providing an entry route into the industry

 

During a recent discussion with Facilitate Magazine, we highlighted the increase in formal university-based FM qualifications within the UK and how this is affecting the FM industry as a whole. The expansion of professional qualifications seems to have carved out a much clearer route into a much more credible profession. With increases in FM Apprenticeships and University based qualifications, the idea of Facilities Management being a viable and successful career path is becoming much more widespread within the young professional demographic. This in turn is increasing the awareness and perceived value of formal qualifications in the minds of employers.

Specialist qualifications

Although there are mixed opinions on the value of general academic qualifications in FM, the general consensus is that industry-specific qualifications are very important. When we consider the business operations that FM professionals may be involved with (e.g. Health and Safety, Engineering, Project Management) it is clear to see that highly specialized qualifications can be vital to these functions. The results of our salary survey show that qualifications such as IOSH, NEBOSH and IWFM qualifications are increasingly sought after, and in many cases are a pre-requisite for certain positions. The survey results also highlighted the sheer breadth of specialist qualifications available within FM, with over 50 mentioned in our survey sample alone.

 

Soft and hard skills

FM professionals tend to be a highly skilled bunch. In our experience, FMs like to get stuck-in and are eager to learn and develop themselves. This hands-on approach means that the best FM professionals develop a wide range of both hard and soft skills throughout their career. Some argue that formal qualifications don’t really contribute to these skills, and undertaking them can be perceived as an unnecessary ‘box-ticking’ exercise – particularly with more general, academic qualifications which may not be industry-specific

 

As specialist FM recruiters, we have seen an increasing demand for higher education qualifications, especially for senior FM positions. Interestingly, in many of these cases the qualifications don’t actually need to be in a related field, yet instead are valued based on the soft skills needed to get them. Regardless of the subject, attaining a degree level or higher qualification can help demonstrate personal skills and attributes (determination, organisational skills, ability to handle pressure etc).