Tricks Of The Trade: Continuing Education

By B. Kevin Folsom, CEP
Published in the August 2013 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

QI am looking to gain academic certification and more knowledge in facility management. Which credential holds more clout: the FMA [Facilities Management Administrator] from BOMI or the CFM [Certified Facility Manager] from IFMA? Or, would it be better to gain more maintenance knowledge from a company like American Trainco, since most job opportunities I see require knowledge in the trades?

An Operations Manager

A The answer to your query is this—it depends. BOMI and IFMA predominantly appeal to different facility manager (fm) clientele all the while trying to broaden their reach to all facets.

BOMI deals more specifically with those who manage facilities that are of Class A tenant space—oftentimes high-rise buildings in downtown areas or upscale areas, and they often are dealing with real estate issues. The BOMI designations and certifications can be found here.

IFMA, meanwhile, addresses everything between educational facilities to those Class A facilities. It has a varied fm clientele. Its credential programs may be found here.

A third group I would add into the mix to consider is APPA, which specializes in educational facilities representing international higher education (often with hospitals) and K-12 schools. This group offers the EFP (Educational Facilities Professional) and CEFP (Certified EFP), and information can be found here.

After some research, you will see each of these groups provide reputable credentialing programs, and they will also be very beneficial to any area of facilities management (FM) that you enter. The reach of these organizations may grow and diversify, but today this is how it seems.

I don’t think there is a wrong decision with the options, but there are better ones based on the direction you want to go. What type of FM industry do you want to go into, and do you plan to stay within that industry your entire career?

Now, the downside of credentialing is that it’s not a college degree, and it does not replace experience. Wrench turning (trades) is most often the path into an FM career, even into some of the higher ranks; however, college degree programs specifically focused on FM are increasingly becoming more available. To date, the most requested and accepted degrees in FM are engineering, architectural, civil engineering, construction sciences, and master of business administration (MBA). Specific FM experience for supervisory levels usually begins around five years, but most often it is 10 years.

Most hiring companies want both a college degree and experience. Credentialing adds a lot of credibility to these, and the best part is that you learn a wealth of information about your industry, which will make you a better fm! One distinct component of APPA’s CEFP is that this certification takes into consideration your experience. You cannot be considered for this designation until you’ve had 10 years of experience in FM.


  1. The question also arises; what is the goal of your education?
    Is it for self improvement and to make you a better FMer?
    Then one can do that for free through self-study, used books, and online resources like youtube etc. You can google program courses and see what they run you through, then pick up books on the subject matters. If the goal is to gain education and “reputation” from a certification, then in all honesty – they are a dime a dozen. No one has heard of IFMA in my plant. No one has heard of BOMA. I went to college and was apart of IFMA and while having it’s certification can only help; it certainly wasn’t the only route one could take or the end all of certifications. I often see people who have “alphabet soup” after their name as being interesting people. It’s says they are goal getters and continue to learn. It also says they could have just paid $200 to get a certification and may not know much more than you. I’ve learned more from trades, online resources, and books, than I ever did from IFMA….. but having that “title” might be all that employers care about…if they know what it means.

Comments are closed.