## ABSTRACT

The field of facility management (FM) has existed alongside other related fields, such as engineering and construction, yet its place within traditional education pathways is less formalized than is the case with other areas of the built environment. As such, those seeking entry into the profession will discover that it is largely undefined and a function of experience, with many professionals looking to supplement their experience with credentials and continuing education to better prepare themselves for advancement in the FM profession. To better understand and evaluate the impact and value of FM credentials in the industry and for its members, data were collected through two online international surveys of FM professionals and FM organizations. The research was commissioned by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). The results indicate that FM professionals experience value in attaining a credential, and their employers also benefit. The return on investment of the IFMA credentials was calculated to be 15:1 over five years.

## Introduction

As a growing field of research, the literature on facility management (FM) education is not as abundant as in other areas of research regarding the built environment. Further, even fewer studies are available on FM professional education and credentials. Based on the number of facility managers expected to retire in the next 10–15 years, the current number of professionals entering the field will not be sufficient to fill all the openings (Sullivan, Georgoulis, & Lines, 2010). Filling this gap will require professionals from other fields to transition to FM.

Training and credentials will become requisite for FM professionals, serving as verification that they have obtained the skills and knowledge necessary for success in FM. The purpose of this study, the first of its kind in the field of FM, was to set a clear framework for evaluating the value of FM credentials now and in the future. An important goal was to ensure the framework would remain relevant, ensuring value to the industry, even as the needs and programs for education in FM change.

## Literature Review

Studies regarding the effectiveness of education and training have produced various measurement methods. Most simply, Dadgar and Trimble (2015) compared the cost of earning an associate's degree, a long-term certificate, and a short-term certificate to wage gains reported over seven years at the state level in Washington. The results indicate that there are large variations across fields of study; some credentials resulting in higher wages, while others do not.

Bennington and Laffoley (2012) suggested that the return on investment of learning and development programs should be continually evaluated to monitor changes, such as regarding average performance appraisal ratings, customer satisfaction ratings, employee engagement survey scores, turnover rates, percentage of promotions, productivity rates, and retention rates. Indeed, evaluation of the benefits of training becomes challenging when not done continually and consistently.

Other research has addressed the more qualitative or “soft” side of evaluating training benefits. Many of these studies suggest requiring organizations that administer internal training programs to lead the evaluation efforts. Questions pertaining to the qualitative benefits of FM credentials can result in greater awareness of the “soft” benefits, however, many of these studies were outside of the FM field. One source of inspiration for such questions is Bruce et al. (2010). Various researchers have presented strategies for assessing FM education. For example, Chiero et al. (2012) suggested (1) evaluating preparation effectiveness by measuring employees and supervisors regarding 17 core competencies and (2) comparing different training methods. Kirkpatrick (1960, 1970), whose work is considered foundational in simplifying training measurement, developed a four-part evaluation model in the 1960s: reaction, learning, behavior, and results. While this model's parts have been renamed, it is the most commonly cited model in the field of adult education. Grohmann and Kauffeld (2013) suggested evaluating training programs in four areas: reaction, learning, behavior, and organization results. A multiperspective approach to training-benefits evaluation can be helpful not only for the organization that produced the training but also for organizations that purchased or participated in the training.

To evaluate FM training programs, it is also necessary to compare the skills of trained versus untrained professionals. Bennington and Laffoley (2012) suggested creating prelearning assessments to evaluate participants' knowledge prior to training, identifying goals and targets for the learning, establishing a baseline for learning, and measuring postlearning immediately after the training and also over time. Chochard and Davoine (2011) proposed comparing the performance of employees and supervisors in training and control groups (using pre- and posttraining assessments). Ensuring that training benefits are evaluated at both the employee and the supervisor level is critical to understanding the realized value of the training.

## Research Questions

Recognizing the need to understand the value of FM education, the International Facility Management Assocation (IFMA, 2016) commissioned a study to measure typical returns on investments made for FM credentialing programs—namely, Certified Facility Manager (CFM), Facility Management Professional (FMP), and Sustainability Facility Professional (SFP). The following are the four primary research questions for the study:

• RQ1: What is the typical time and money investment to attain a credential?

• RQ2: What is the value of the FM credential to the individual?

• RQ3: What is the value of the FM credential to the organization?

• RQ4: How do credentialed employees affect the organization?

## Methodology

The study was divided into three primary phases: survey development and refinement, survey distribution, and data analysis. The study was completed over a period of three months (August–October 2016).

### Survey Development and Refinement

An online survey (Attachment 1) was designed to identify both quantitative and qualitative benefits. A pilot survey was developed based on the literature, IFMA's goals for the research, and recommendations from a steering committee of FM professionals. The survey addressed the credential holder's demographic information and the value of each credential attained. The survey's items were formatted as multiple-choice questions and five-point Likert scales. The survey was tested by 20 FM credentialed professionals. After completing the survey, each of the professionals participated in an interview, and their comments were used to refine the final survey.

### Survey Distribution

The targeted respondents were individuals who had successfully completed and been awarded an IFMA credential (CFM, FMP, or SFP). IFMA provided two contact lists for credentialed individuals; one of the lists was based on the date individuals enrolled in a credentialing program, and the other list was based on the date that individuals successfully passed their credentialing exams. Using each individual's email address as a unique key, these two lists were combined to create a master contact list. Extensive analysis by the researcher team revealed that of the 10,005 IFMA credentials listed as having been awarded since 1993 (see Table 1), some of the email addresses in the lists were duplicates or invalid, leaving a total of 8,991 unique, valid email addresses. These email addresses were sent the link to the survey, which was administered online through Qualtrics. Two reminder emails were also sent; individuals had a 30-day window to complete the survey. Individuals opted not to participate for a variety of reasons (retirement, no interest, new email addresses, etc.), leaving a total of 6,982 potential participants (representing 69.8% of the original master contact list).

TABLE 1

Number of Credentials Awarded/Being Pursued

The first CFM was awarded in 1993, the first FMP in 2004, and the first SFP in 2013. The number of CFMs and FMPs awarded steadily increased from 2005 to 2011 (see Figure 1). Without more information, it is difficult to determine the cause of these increases; however, some potential causes may be the increase in popularity of the credentials, the need for more trained professionals, and the great recession.

FIGURE 1

Awarded credentials by year.

FIGURE 1

Awarded credentials by year.

## Data Analysis

### Survey Respondents

A total of 1,802 responses were received, representing a 26% response rate. The responses captured represent 20% of the population. Table 2 shows the distribution of the respondents' credential status. The most common credential that individuals earned was the FMP (45%), followed by the CFM (37%) and dual attainment of the CFM and the FMP (6%). Table 3 shows the distribution of the respondents' achievement of non-IFMA credentials.

TABLE 2

Frequency of IFMA Credentials Attained

TABLE 3

Other Credentials Held

### Respondents' Demographics

The respondents were asked to provide their current geographic location, generational affiliation, and number of years of FM experience. The majority of respondents lived in the United States and Canada (see Table 4). A very large portion of respondents (86%) were born from 1946 to 1978 (see Table 5). The respondents varied greatly in the number of years of FM experience (see Figure 2).

TABLE 4

Geographic Locations

TABLE 5

Generational Affiliations

FIGURE 2

Years of FM experience.

FIGURE 2

Years of FM experience.

## Results

The analysis of the results is split into two sections, based on the focus of the research questions: investment and value. The results regarding value are organized into qualitative and quantitative aspects.

### Investment

The investment in IFMA credentials consisted of fees ($), test preparation ($), and time spent studying (hours and $). The fees associated with credential attainment are listed in Table 6, based on IFMA's pricing as of December 1, 2016, for nonmembers IFMA (2016a, 2016b, 2017). As shown in the table, the CFM has the highest total fees. TABLE 6 Credential Fees Individuals may choose to attend test preparation courses and/or test preparation training to assist in studying for the assessments. The costs associated with preparation courses are listed in Figure 3. The most common amount spent on preparation was less than$1,000 or $0. FIGURE 3 Test preparation costs. FIGURE 3 Test preparation costs. The investment of hours spent studying to attain a credential is shown in Table 7. The results were varied, with 51–100 hours the most common response (26%). TABLE 7 Hours Spent Studying ### Value #### Qualitative The qualitative value related to reasons for pursuing a credential, benefits gained from attaining a credential, the benefits of the credential relative to the investment, and the credential's ability to increase an FM's earning potential. The top-ranked reasons for pursuing a credential are: achieving professional development (43%), professional recognition (26%), and preparation for increased job responsibilities (19%) (see Table 8). Additionally, respondents identified that the top benefits gained from earning their credentials were greater sense of value and self-worth (20%), education in the IFMA core competences (18%), greater confidence in performing job tasks (18%), and prestige among peers (16%) (see Table 9). TABLE 8 Reasons for Pursuing Credential TABLE 9 Benefits Gained from Credential A qualitative perspective of the quantitative benefits of credentials was obtained by asking the respondents about the value of their credentials relative to the investment and the credentials' ability to affect an FM's earning potential. The large majority (84%) of respondents reported that their credentials had good, very good, or excellent value relative to their investment (see Figure 4). Additionally, 68% of respondents somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that their credentials had the ability to affect an FM's earning potential (see Figure 5). FIGURE 4 Value of credential relative to investment. FIGURE 4 Value of credential relative to investment. FIGURE 5 Ability of a credential to affect an FM's earning potential. FIGURE 5 Ability of a credential to affect an FM's earning potential. #### Quantitative The quantitative value regarded increases in salary due to a credential attained, as well as the return on investment of the credential. The mean reported current salary was$93,784 (see Figure 6). In reporting how credentials increased the respondents' salaries, 58% of respondents reported seeing an increase in salary due to their credentials, with an increase of 6%–15% being the most frequent response (23%) (see Figure 7). Based on the respondents' average current salary of $93,784 (see Figure 6), an increase of 6%–15% represents an average of$6,000.

FIGURE 6

Average current salary.

FIGURE 6

Average current salary.

FIGURE 7

Percentage increase in salary.

FIGURE 7

Percentage increase in salary.

The return on investment calculation for the FM credentials involved comparing the costs of materials, fees, preparation/courses, and study time to the increase in salary due to a credential. Details of this calculation are shown in Table 10.

TABLE 10

Return on Investment Variables

Another important consideration of monetary value is the time-value of money. Education is not typically considered a one-time benefit; that is, what is learned is useful throughout an FM's career. The results of the monetary-value calculations of FM credentials indicate a positive return on investment (Table 11). Whereas the cost of the credential consists of a large investment in a short timeframe, the value is realized over a longer timeframe. Other studies about the value of credentials, such as the CPA, use the length of a typical career to measure the benefits (Krippel, Moody, & Mitchell, 2016). Considering the IFMA fees and a minimum annual salary increase of 3.5%, the returns on investment are 3:1 (immediate), 9:1 (3 years), 15:1 (5 years), 22:1 (7 years), and 34:1 (10 years). Table 11 presents average returns on investment for various scenarios.

TABLE 11

Return on Investment Calculations

### Preliminary Organizational Feedback

To gain preliminary insight into an organization's perspective on the value of credentials, a survey was distributed to human resources and facilities leadership in a small population of FM organizations. The survey was closely administered by the research team to ensure data were fully reported. A total of 47 responses were received.

A variety of business sectors were represented in the responses, with the education sector having the highest response rate (40%) (see Table 12). Organizations varied by size, with the majority having 1,001 or more employees (see Table 13).

TABLE 12

TABLE 13

Size of Organization

#### Policies and practices

The survey results indicate that organizations have policies and practices regarding credentials and education. For instance, the respondents' organizations are likely to list credentials as desired qualifications in job postings. Further, the respondents indicated that credentials merit increased compensation and influence promotion (see Table 14).

TABLE 14

Policies and Practices regarding Credentials

#### Value

To better understand the benefits to organizations, the respondents were asked to compare employees who have obtained their credentials to those who have not. The results show that credentialed employees have higher: performance appraisal ratings (78%), customer satisfaction ratings 62%), and productivity rates (59%) (see Figure 8).

FIGURE 8

Ability of credential to affect an FM's earning potential.

FIGURE 8

Ability of credential to affect an FM's earning potential.

When asked whether the respondents' organizations provide some reimbursement or payment to help cover employees' costs for credentials, only 45% said their organizations provided financial assistance. This finding conflicts with the organizational perspective that credentials are valuable. Although organizations desire to hire FMs with credentials and the organizations see gains in performance, satisfaction, and productivity, the organizations are not likely to cover the associated costs of credentials.

## Conclusion

The goal of this research was to understand the return on investment of IFMA credentials, specifically the CFM, FMP, and SFP, according to individuals and companies. Two online, international surveys were conducted, one for FM professionals and the other for FM organizations. The resulting data were evaluated to understand the value of FM credentials to the industry and its members. The data analysis shows FM credentials not only provide professionals with value but also translate into benefits for organizations.

The data also provide answers to the research questions. In terms of RQ1, the average monetary investment for a credential is $2,180 in IFMA fees and$1,000 in test preparation fees; the average time investment is 51–100 hours. Regarding RQ2, the average (conservative) five-year return on investment of IFMA credentials is a significant 15:1. As for RQ3 and RQ4, 78% of organization representatives believed that credentialed employees have higher performance appraisal ratings; 62%, better customer satisfaction ratings; and 59%, higher productivity rates. Further, organizations list credentials as a desired qualification in job postings and increase compensation for employees who complete a credential. However, only 45% of organizations assist with the cost to attain a credential.

## Future Research

More research needs to be conducted to fully evaluate the costs and benefits of IFMA credentials to individuals and organizations. More robust methods and types of data should be considered in future research regarding FM credentials and continuing education. Many of the methods mentioned in the literature review should be explored for their potential applications to FM credential evaluation. In particular, pre- and post-assessments of FM competence can be used to more closely evaluate the educational benefits of FM credentials. (This research could include self-assessments and employer assessments.) Additionally, follow-up assessments should be conducted to understand the ongoing value of credentials and contributions to an organization.

Further, organizations' perspectives should be analyzed in further detail. The organization representatives stated that the merit and value of credentials are evaluated, but the representatives did not specify how the evaluation is conducted or the potential monetary gains. Research could involve exploring human resources data regarding employee contributions, improvements, and company gains. Another area for research is to understand the differences between companies willing and unwilling to cover the credential costs, including the motivating factors. Further insights could be gained by evaluating data regarding employee performance ratings, turnover, and other relevant characteristics. Research also needs to explore other benefits organizations may realize from employees earning credentials.

Another area for study is students' and young professionals' perspectives, as they are the future FM workforce and will affect the future of credentials. The emergence and growth of FM accredited degree programs may affect the market and the curriculum for credentials and certificates in the future. As the higher education environment changes, the continuing education market must understand potential impacts.

Expanding the research to other credentials in FM and the built environment would provide great benefit and consistency within the industry. The credentials are complimentary, not competing, and research is needed to identify the value and unique contributions of each credential. Such research can also be used to determine a future credential that will have a value proposition that is appealing both to the individual and the organization.

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### Attachment 1: Survey

1. Where are you currently located?

• USA

• Central America

• South America

• Europe

• Africa

• Asia

• Oceania

• Australia

• What state?

• (drop down will appear with all US states)

• What province or territory?

• (drop down will appear with all Canadian Provinces)

2. Which of the following credentials have you obtained? (select all that apply, please note that if you have achieved more than one credential, you will be asked questions about each credential)

• CFM

• FMP

• SFP

##### CFM Credential
• 3.

When did you achieve your CFM?

(drop down will appear with years 1994 – 2016 inclusive)

• 4.

What were your reason(s) for pursuing the CFM? (select all that apply)

• Employer requirement for a position in your current company

• Employer requirement for a position in another company that you were interested in

• Employer requirement for a raise/increase in compensation

• Preparation for increased job responsibilities

• Professional development

• Professional recognition

• Other ____________________

• 5.

How did you prepare to achieve your CFM? (select all that apply)

• I studied on my own & did not purchase any preparation materials/courses

• IFMA corporate training

• IFMA local chapter training

• 3rd party in-person training

• College/University in-person training

• College/University online training

• Personal experience

• Other ____________________

• 6.

Not including the required IFMA manuals, how much did you or your company spend on CFM test preparation materials (i.e. class fees, instructor fees, travel to in-person classes, practice tests, study guides, etc.)?

• $0 • Less than$1,000

• $1,000–$2,000

• $2,001–$3,000

• $3,001–$4,000

• More than $4,000 • Unsure • 7. How much time did you spend preparing to take your CFM test/assessment, including time spent studying and attending classes? • Less than 10 hours • 10–20 hours • 21–30 hours • 31–40 hours • 41–50 hours • 51–100 hours • 101–200 hours • More than 200 hours • 8. Have you received a promotion since receiving your CFM? • Yes • No • 9. What other benefits or value have you gained from your CFM? (select all that apply) • Increased pay • Offered new job/position • Education in the core competencies • Greater confidence in performing job tasks • Prestige among my peers • Greater desire to pursue organizational involvement • Greater sense of value and self-worth • Other ____________________ • 10. The CFM can impact a FM's earning potential. • Strongly disagree • Somewhat disagree • Neither agree nor disagree • Somewhat agree • Strongly agree • 11. How much do you feel your CFM has increased your salary? • No increase • Less than 1% • 1%–5% • 6%–10% • 11%–15% • More than 15% • 12. What has been the value of your CFM relative to the investment of time & money? • Low value relative to the investment • High value relative to the investment • 1 2 3 4 5 • 13. What is the reputation of the CFM among FM professionals? • Poor reputation • Fair reputation • Good reputation • Very good reputation • Excellent reputation • 14. How widely known and recognized is the CFM among FM professionals? • Very unknown • Somewhat unknown • Unsure • Somewhat known • Very well-known ##### FMP Credential • 3. When did you achieve your FMP? (drop down will appear with years 1994 – 2016 inclusive) • 4. What were your reason(s) for pursuing the FMP? (select all that apply) • Employer requirement for a position in your current company • Employer requirement for a position in another company that you were interested in • Employer requirement for a raise/increase in compensation • Preparation for increased job responsibilities • Professional development • Professional recognition • Other ____________________ • 5. How did you prepare to achieve your FMP? (select all that apply) • I studied on my own & did not purchase any preparation materials/courses • IFMA corporate training • IFMA local chapter training • IFMA local chapter study group • 3rd party in-person training • College/University in-person training • College/University online training • Personal experience • Other ____________________ • 6. Not including the required IFMA manuals, how much did you or your company spend on FMP test preparation materials (i.e. class fees, instructor fees, travel to in-person classes, practice tests, study guides, etc.)? •$0

• Less than $1,000 •$1,000–$2,000 •$2,001–$3,000 •$3,001–$4,000 • More than$4,000

• Unsure

• 7.

How much time did you spend preparing to take your FMP test/assessment, including time spent studying and attending classes?

• Less than 10 hours

• 10–20 hours

• 21–30 hours

• 31–40 hours

• 41–50 hours

• 51–100 hours

• 101–200 hours

• More than 200 hours

• 8.

• Yes

• No

• 9.

What other benefits or value have you gained from your FMP? (select all that apply)

• Increased pay

• Offered new job/position

• Education in the core competencies

• Greater confidence in performing job tasks

• Prestige among my peers

• Greater desire to pursue organizational involvement

• Greater sense of value and self-worth

• Other ____________________

• 10.

The FMP can impact a FM's earning potential.

• Strongly disagree

• Somewhat disagree

• Neither agree nor disagree

• Somewhat agree

• Strongly agree

• 11.

• No increase

• Less than 1%

• 1%–5%

• 6%–10%

• 11%–15%

• More than 15%

• 12.

What has been the value of your FMP relative to the investment of time & money?

• Low value relative to the investment

• High value relative to the investment

• 1 2 3 4 5

• 13.

What is the reputation of the FMP among FM professionals?

• Poor reputation

• Fair reputation

• Good reputation

• Very good reputation

• Excellent reputation

• 14.

How widely known and recognized is the FMP among FM professionals?

• Very unknown

• Somewhat unknown

• Unsure

• Somewhat known

• Very well-known

##### SFP Credential
• 3.

When did you achieve your SFP?

(drop down will appear with years 1994 – 2016 inclusive)

• 4.

What were your reason(s) for pursuing the SFP? (select all that apply)

• Employer requirement for a position in your current company

• Employer requirement for a position in another company that you were interested in

• Employer requirement for a raise/increase in compensation

• Preparation for increased job responsibilities

• Professional development

• Professional recognition

• Other ____________________

• 5.

How did you prepare to achieve your SFP? (select all that apply)

• I studied on my own & did not purchase any preparation materials/courses

• IFMA corporate training

• IFMA local chapter training

• IFMA local chapter study group

• 3rd party in-person training

• College/University in-person training

• College/University online training

• Personal experience

• Other ____________________

• 6.

Not including the required IFMA manuals, how much did you or your company spend on SFP test preparation materials (i.e. class fees, instructor fees, travel to in-person classes, practice tests, study guides, etc.)?

• $0 • Less than$1,000

• $1,000–$2,000

• $2,001–$3,000

• $3,001–$4,000

• More than $4,000 • Unsure • 7. How much time did you spend preparing to take your SFP test/assessment, including time spent studying and attending classes? • Less than 10 hours • 10–20 hours • 21–30 hours • 31–40 hours • 41–50 hours • 51–100 hours • 101–200 hours • More than 200 hours • 8. Have you received a promotion since receiving your SFP? • Yes • No • 9. What other benefits or value have you gained from your SFP? (select all that apply) • Increased pay • Offered new job/position • Education in the core competencies • Greater confidence in performing job tasks • Prestige among my peers • Greater desire to pursue organizational involvement • Greater sense of value and self-worth • Other ____________________ • 10. The CFM can impact a FM's earning potential. • Strongly disagree • Somewhat disagree • Neither agree nor disagree • Somewhat agree • Strongly agree • 11. How much do you feel your SFP has increased your salary? • No increase • Less than 1% • 1%–5% • 6%–10% • 11%–15% • More than 15% • 12. What has been the value of your SFP relative to the investment of time & money? • Low value relative to the investement • High value relative to the investment • 1 2 3 4 5 • 13. What is the reputation of the SFP among FM professionals? • Poor reputation • Fair reputation • Good reputation • Very good reputation • Excellent reputation • 14. How widely known and recognized is the SFP among FM professionals? • Very unknown • Somewhat unknown • Unsure • Somewhat known • Very well-known #### SECTION 2: BACKGROUND • 15. What is the highest level of education you've attained? (select one) • Less than a high school diploma • High school graduate, not college • Some college, no degree • Vocational school • Associate's degree • Bachelor's degree • Master's degree • PhD or other Doctorate • 16. What types of formal training in FM have you attained? (select all that apply) • FM Bachelor's Degree • FM Master's Degree • FM Certificate • IFMA-sponsored professional education • University courses • Other ____________________ • 17. Which of these other credentials do you have? (select all that apply) • LEED AP • PMP • RPA • FMA • CEFP • EFP • CPM • MRICS • AssocRICS • ARM • Other ____________________ • 18. How does the CFM/FMP/SFP compare to other credentials & certificates you have? • CFM/FMP/SFP has greater value than other credentials & certificate programs • CFM/FMP/SFP has about the same value as other credentials & certificate programs • CFM/FMP/SFP has lower value than other credentials & certificate programs • I'm unaware of any other related credentials & certificate programs • 19. How many years of facility management experience do you have? • 20. What is your generational affiliation? • Traditionalist (born prior to 1946) • Baby Boomer (born 1946 – 1964) • Generation X (born 1965 – 1978) • Generation Y (born 1979 – 1997) • Generation Z (born 1998 – present) • 21. Please approximate your current base salary & bonuses (not including other benefits): • Less than$40,000

• $40,000 to$59,999

• $60,000 to$79,999

• $80,000 to$99,999

• $100,000 to$119,999

• $120,000 to$139,999

• \$140,000 or more

• 22.

Gender

• Male

• Female

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Thank you for your time and participation!