Survey Says: FM Pay is Up

Comprehensive industry analysis highlights aging of FM workforce

By Brandon Lorenz, Senior Editor  

It’s a good time to enter the facility management industry. That’s one conclusion that can be drawn from a new survey of facility managers, Profiles 2007, conducted by Building Operating Management and the International Facility Management Association (IFMA).

Though the 65-page report lists dozens of salaries, one number stands out: $63,000. That’s the salary reported by individuals with less than four years of FM experience.

“To have someone enter the field and be potentially looking at a $63,000 salary is very respectable,” says Shari Epstein, associate director of research for IFMA.

Base salaries for newcomers jumped significantly from a similar IFMA salary survey conducted in 2003. At the time, facility professionals with less than four years of experience reported a base salary of $56,000. (See “About the Report” for more on how the salary survey was conducted.)

Why the jump in salaries for newcomers? One potential explanation is that aging workers are retiring, creating demand at the bottom that is driving up salaries. The median age of respondents only increased by two years to 49 since 2003, but it’s clear that the number of workers within striking distance of retirement is growing.

Workers who were at least 45 years old grew from 62 percent in 2003 to 68 percent in 2007. Workers at least 55 years old also grew. Those 55 or older increased from 20 to 25 percent.

Meanwhile the proportion of younger workers shrank. Workers aged 35-44 declined from 30 percent to 25 percent. Workers under the age of 35 also declined, but by a smaller amount — from 9 percent to 7 percent.

Those numbers highlight what industry observers have long known: The industry is facing a huge shift as older, highly experienced workers begin migrating out of the workforce.

“Clearly it’s one of the biggest problems we have in the FM industry, particularly in the public sector,” says Stormy Friday of the Friday Group. “People came in and stayed for 32 or 37 years and now they are matriculating out at a high rate and they are taking a lot of institutional knowledge with them. It’s a brain drain.”

The pressure to quickly fill vacancies could be pushing up salaries at the bottom, Friday says.

Many Factors Affect Salaries

Not surprisingly, base pay increased with experience. Those with four to seven years of FM experience reported earning base salaries of $66,000. The base salary for workers with eight to 12 years of FM experience was $75,000. Facility professionals with more than 12 years of FM experience reported base salaries of $86,649.

Another factor is that more newcomers are entering the field with degrees in facility management, Epstein says. Ten percent of respondents reported earning a degree in facility management in 2007 — an increase of 2 percent over 2003. “For each consecutive study we do, I see the number grow by a few points,” Epstein says.

The salary a facility professional earns can vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the type of industry he or she works in, the amount of square feet managed and the size and location of an organization, among others. Profiles 2007 shows how those variables can affect salaries. It also offers a broader look at industry salary trends.

The report separates facility professionals into five categories based on level of responsibility. The base level is represented by specialists, followed by unit supervisors, section heads, managers and directors.

The Gender Gap Persists

Women, who made up 25 percent of survey respondents, reported earning less then men at all job levels. But the gap tightened as women advanced. Women employed as specialists reported earning 12 percent less than their male colleagues. At the top level, the gap narrowed to 6 percent.

“Even though I wish it were more equitable, it is on par with the differences we’ve seen in the past,” says Epstein. “I think one of the messages for women entering the field is to stick with it. Eventually, their pay is likely to match that of their male peers.”

Despite the pay gap, FM can be a good career for women, says Friday, who managed more than 4 million square feet of space for the EPA before becoming a consultant. “When a lot of companies see a woman with potential, they are willing to invest in her because it’s an unusual area for women, and it’s a feather in their cap too,” says Friday.

Moving On Up

So what’s the lesson for facility professionals who are actively looking to boost their salaries? First, the experience an FM professional brings to the table is a double-edged sword. The good news is that each year spent in FM added $779 to an individual’s salary.

The finding came through a regression analysis of salary data. A regression analysis can show the independent impact of various factors on salaries.

The number of years an individual spent with their current employer had a lesser impact on salary: an additional $362 per year. But total career experience (which includes non-FM experience) didn’t improve salaries.

More importantly, the number of years an individual spent in a single position didn’t add to a person’s salary. The takeaway for facility professionals: Don’t be afraid to move around within an organization.

“There is a point in time in which you don’t become as valuable to an organization because you get myopic,” says Friday. “You don’t get a broad perspective. The organization starts forming silos.”

Even today, it’s not unusual to find facility executives who have spent more than 30 years in their current position, especially in the public sector, Friday says.

Because facility management touches so many aspects of a company’s operations, facility executives should use FM’s unique role to move into other areas, Friday says. That experience can lead to increased responsibilities — and salary — for those who decide to return to FM, says Friday.

“The longer you stay doesn’t make you more valuable,” she says. “If you believe in knowledge workers, the theory is that you want a mix of people and institutional knowledge.”

About the Report

The Profiles 2007 report contains a variety of salary and demographic information of FM professionals. Split into five sections, the first two parts profile various types of FM professionals and highlights factors that affect compensation. The last two chapters break down compensation by management level and by geographic region. A final chapter includes job descriptions for various positions in the field.

A total of 4,600 facility professionals completed the survey. The survey was sent to 12,744 IFMA members and 49,939 subscribers of Building Operating Management.

IFMA members can purchase the report at Interenational Facility Management Association's Web site for $129. Nonmembers pay $149.

Salary information is often reported using the median. The median indicates the middle point in a set of data. Half of those who responded to the survey earned more than the median while the other half earned less. The median is considered a better measure of central tendency than the average because numbers that are extremely high or low do not distort it.

The survey retains largely the same format as IFMA’s 2003 Salary Report. While the number of respondents is similar, there are demographic variations in the audience.

Survey information was collected online from July 6 to July 23, 2007.

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  posted on 11/1/2007   Article Use Policy

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