Facility managers ensure that the building is ready to be used by the staff who work there and the public who might visit.
What do they do?
Facility managers oversee the way a building is run. They ensure that the building is ready to be used by the staff who work there and the public who might visit.
This means keeping the building:
- environmentally sound
- working properly
- properly staffed.
They also set the budget for the operation of the building.
Property managers look after the building itself, as well as the site it is built on. Their responsibility is to make sure the building is well maintained and kept in good repair so that it lasts for future generations.
A site must be safe to visit, and run so that the visitors will not damage it.
In the heritage sector, both jobs can involve looking after a historical building or site. They can also be combined under the title of heritage manager.
A museum or historical site must be safe to visit so that income can be made through visitors. But the property needs to be run in a way that the visitors will not damage it.
What is the job like?
Managers in this field spend the majority of their time planning. They must determine the needs of the building in terms of security, health and safety, sanitation, waste disposal and catering. They will choose and employ staff to help them, like gardeners or shop staff.
This means they need to know about how a building works, including the legal and environmental aspects. An example might be the laws on air conditioning and how to operate it safely in a workplace.
They have to allocate money to the various aspects of the work they oversee, working within a budget to make sure a building or site is well kept. Then they need to employ the staff who will do the work, or set up contracts with external companies to do it. The work is needs to be cost effective, and a good heritage manager will always be looking for ways of saving money.
Other job features
You need to be good at handling a team of people. Organisation and planning skills are important, as is an understanding of employment and health and safety laws.
The work is generally 9-5. You might need to visit different premises or teams during the day. You may need to work late if overseeing an event at the site, or if dealing with an emergency like flooding.
How do I become a heritage manager?
Most people begin work in the heritage sector as volunteers. Competition can be very fierce for these placements, as having them on your CV is important for obtaining paid positions.
Volunteering as a tour guide, interpreter, receptionist or visitor assistant are all good ways of starting to build experience. Contact local heritage sites to find what is on offer. The National Trust and English Heritage both run volunteer schemes. English Heritage also provide training with their schemes.
This kind of work can count towards obtaining an Associateship of the Museum Association (AMA), which is an excellent way of proving your commitment to the heritage sector.
For facilities managers, you may begin work as an assistant manager, looking after a single aspect of the job like catering or cleaning.
What qualifications and training do I need?
For heritage management, there is no basic qualification needed, and it is open to people from any background.
However, as competition is usually very high, getting a first job with an HND or foundation level degree is less likely. If you have a lot of experience in volunteer or relevant positions, this might be acceptable.
Having a graduate degree can be an advantage, in a field such as:
- museum studies
For facilities managers, a degree in engineering, business studies, construction or property would all be a good starting point.
- The University of Central Lancashire has a Facilities Management degree.
- The British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) offers a range of qualifications to develop your skills and further your career in facilities.
- The National Property Management Association (NPMA) has a similar range of training and courses for property management. Both of these would be useful and relevant for work as a heritage manager.
How much can I earn?
The heritage sector is generally thought of as low paying. Entry level salaries are around £16,000 to 19,000.
You can earn between £25,000 and £35,000 a year, depending on your experience.