Special Report: Readers Benchmark Earnings

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By Heidi Schwartz  Published in the July 2005 issue of Today’s Facility Manager Last year, TFM presented readers with a snapshot of earnings for the facility management profession [“Salaries On An Upswing” by Heidi Schwartz, July 2004, page 24]. Based on figures from numerous sources (including the U.S. Department of Labor, the International Facility Management Association, and others), this analysis did not accurately convey salary statistics representative of those earned by TFM subscribers.   In an effort to provide readers with more valuable benchmarking data, the magazine conducted its own salary survey and achieved outstanding results. The survey was sent to approximately 12,000 TFMsubscribers and achieved a response rate near 7%. As a result, facility management professionals will now have a more accurate sense of their earning potential. Earnings By Title While survey respondents used various labels to identify themselves, a significant majority (33.8%) fell into the “Facility Manager” category. The next highest group (18%) put themselves in the “Other” category (although their manually entered descriptions indicated they could have selected one of the predetermined titles). “VP/Director of Facilities & Buildings” came in third (16.8%). “Operations Manager” (5.9%), “Building Manager” (5.4%), and “Physical Plant Director” (4.7%) rounded out the top titles. For designated Facility Managers, salaries were spread across the entire spectrum. Some reported earnings as high as $119,999 (1.3%), while others made less than $50,000 (14.6%). The majority (58.6%) earned between $50,000 and $79,999 per year, with the highest percentage (20.5%) in the range of $50,000 to $59,000—but only by the slightest margin. Respondents with the title of VP/Director of Facilities & Buildings reported the widest salary range, spanning from $200,000+ (1.7%) to under $50,000 (also 1.7%). The majority (24%) earned between $90,000 and $99,000, followed by those earning between $80,000 and $89,999 (17.6%). Operations Managers, Building Managers, and Physical Plant Directors all had similar averages (the majority of respondents in these three categories ranged from $60,000 to $79,999). However, Operations Managers reported the highest averages (4.8% earned up to $139,999) while Physical Plant Directors had the lowest (18.2% earned less than $50,000).

Time Well Spent?

Regardless of title, survey respondents were firmly entrenched in the profession. More than one third (33.8%) have been in the field longer than 20 years, while a small percentage (5%) has been in it for less than three years. It was no surprise that time in the profession translated into better salaries. Those with 20+ years under their belts registered high percentages in the $80,000 to $99,999 ranges. As the years in the field decreased, so did reported salaries. Of those with five to 10 years in the profession, 27% reported earnings less than $50,000. Interestingly enough, company loyalty appeared to slow salary growth, particularly for respondents who spent more than 20 years with one organization. The majority of these participants (16.4%) earned between $60,000 and $69,000, as did the majority (20.4%) of newer employees (three to five years at the company). However, the majority (19.2%) of those spending 15 to 20 years with the company earned between $70,000 and $79,000. This appeared to be the plateau for survey respondents. Meanwhile, long-term employees scored the highest percentage (4.1%) in the $200,000+ salary category. A small portion (1.4%) of relative newcomers (one to three years with one company) also reported earnings in this top range.

Learn More, Earn More

Many believe the responsibilities associated with facility management are best understood while on the job. In some cases that may be true, but survey respondents clearly acknowledge financial rewards based on degrees earned. More than one third (35.9%) received Bachelor’s Degree, followed by those with some college, but no degree (29.6%). A Master’s Degree was more widely reported (14.6%) than an Associate’s Degree (11.3%), and a small sample (7.5%) received only their high school diplomas. An even smaller group (1.1%) achieved a PhD. As for earnings, the majority figures stacked up this way:
  • PhD: $100,000 to $109,999
  • Master’s Degree: $80,000 to $89,999
  • Bachelor’s Degree: $80,000 to $89,999
  • Associate’s Degree: under $50,000
  • Some College: $50,000 to $59,999
  • High School Only: under $50,000
The highest percentage (3.9%) of top earners ($200,000+) had achieved their Master’s Degrees. On the other end of the scale, the highest percentage of those who earned $50,000 or less came from the “High School Only” category.

Money Makes Money

The top three sectors for respondents were education (17%), health care (15%), and manufacturing (11%). According to results presented in last year’s article, the majority of managers in the education sector earned between $50,000 to $59,999. Results from the 2005 TFM survey showed tallies that straddled this figure. A majority (20.2%) earned less than $50,000, followed closely by 16% at $60,000 to $69,000; 15.1% earned both $90,000 to $99,999 and $70,000 to $79,999. In 2002, median annual salaries for medical and health services managers were $61,370. This figure was mirrored in the TFM survey, with the majority (18.5%) earning between $60,000 and $69,999. Higher salaries followed, with 17.6% bringing in between $80,000 and $89,999. Manufacturing followed the same pattern. Overall, financial services seemed to offer the highest salaries. This industry had the top percentage of earners in the $200,000 and over category (4.3%), and the average salary for most (14.5%) was between $90,000 and $99,999.

Big Space, Big Bucks

Nearly half (42.1%) of survey respondents worked for companies that employed more than 1,000 people. [Chart 5.] More than half paid their managers moderately high wages, with 56% earning between $60,000 and $99,999. Companies with fewer than 100 employees were generous too, with 24.3% of respondents earning between $80,000 and $119,999. At the same time, this group brought home the smallest paychecks, with 22.5% earning less than $50,000. Square footage was also a factor in terms of salary. Those with more than 10 million square feet tended to rank at the upper portion of the scale. The majority of people managing four to six million square feet of space (16.7%) earned between $70,000 and $79,999. This salary range was also the most common for smaller facilities (between 250,000 and 499,999 square feet) with 19.3% earning this figure. Once again, smaller spaces (100,000 square feet or less) distributed the smallest paychecks, with 34.8% earning less than $50,000. An overwhelming majority of survey participants (84%) were charged with primary management of their departments. Most representatives from this group (16.2%) earned between $60,000 and $69,999. The largest group of non-managers (21.2%) earned less than $50,000.

The Ideal Position

According to the results of this survey, the most lucrative profile would be the following:
  • VP/Director of Facilities & Buildings;
  • 20+ years in the field;
  • 15 to 20 years with one company;
  • College degree earned (PhD preferred);
  • Financial services sector;
  • Company size more than 1,000 employees; and
  • More than 10 million square feet managed.
Overall, several elements seemed to have the most noteworthy impact on earnings for those professionals charged with facility operations. Education was clearly a factor, as was type of industry. Other elements were less conclusive. Still, for those who love what they do, there is no real price tag for job satisfaction. Yet, it’s interesting to know how salaries stack up.

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