Healthcare Administration

Should You Get a Healthcare Facilities Management Degree?

Should You Get a Healthcare Facilities Management Degree?
In healthcare facilities management, certifications are more common than degrees. Available options are typically general degrees in facilities management with no focus on healthcare. Image from Unsplash
Christa Terry profile
Christa Terry February 18, 2020

You won't find any degrees specifically in healthcare facilities management. However, you can earn a lot in this field with a general facilities management degree. In the end, though, experience and your certification will be what get you hired.

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Healthcare facilities managers ensure that medical buildings meet basic regulatory standards of health and safety. In that way, they’re like all other facilities managers. But because the facilities they oversee must meet many additional (and more stringent) state health department codes, federal requirements, and other regulatory standards specific to healthcare settings, they also do much more.

Consider a blackout in a typical office building. It’s a minor inconvenience at best; at worst, it causes a temporary drop in revenue or productivity. A blackout in a hospital, on the other hand, can be deadly unless emergency generators start automatically and run perfectly for as long as they’re needed.

Given that, you might assume that healthcare facilities managers study for years to earn setting-specific master’s degrees to qualify for their jobs. In fact, however, programs in medical facilities management are scarce. Most healthcare facilities managers hold degrees in general facilities management. That’s if they have degrees at all: it’s still possible to land a job in healthcare facilities management via an apprenticeship or by starting out as a mechanic or janitor and rising through the ranks.

That may be changing, however. “Facilities managers’ roles are becoming more complex,” Cheryl Harper, former director of building operations of Providence St. Joseph’s Hospital, told Health Facilities Management magazine. Some hospitals now mandate higher education and continuing education for all employees in supervisory roles, which means you may need to get a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in facilities management if you want to become a healthcare facilities manager.

In this article about healthcare facilities management degrees, we’ll cover:

  • Where do individuals with healthcare facilities management degrees work?
  • What kinds of degrees do healthcare facilities managers have?
  • Which colleges offer an undergraduate degree in healthcare facilities management?
  • Are there master’s degree programs in healthcare facilities management?
  • Is it possible to study healthcare facilities management online?
  • Are there certificate programs for healthcare facilities management?
  • Is a healthcare facilities management degree all I’ll need to get a job?
  • How will my degree affect my salary when I become a healthcare facilities manager?

Where do individuals with healthcare facilities management degrees work?

Hospitals aren’t the only setting where healthcare facilities managers work. Healthcare facility managers (sometimes called medical facilities managers or healthcare FMs) also work in doctors’ offices, outpatient surgical centers, specialty clinics, long-term care facilities, and anywhere else providers treat patients.

A facility manager’s work involves many operational areas of a facility. In this role, you’ll be responsible for:

  • Training and supervising facilities staff
  • Developing safety policies
  • Training staff in emergency operations procedures
  • Performing regular life safety and fire safety assessments
  • Ensuring compliance across departments
  • Developing maintenance programs
  • Inspecting buildings to identify existing or emerging structural issues
  • Inspecting medical gas, refrigeration, and HVAC systems
  • Overseeing utilities management
  • Overseeing the electrical engineering department
  • Identifying areas in need of repairs, upgrades, or renovations
  • Monitoring the state of medical equipment
  • Overseeing the design of any new construction
  • Working with contractors to ensure code compliance
  • Ensuring legislative compliance across departments
  • Ensuring all buildings meet security standards
  • Creating and updating budgets related to facilities operations
  • Purchasing and installing furniture and equipment
  • Negotiating agreements with outside suppliers and service providers
  • Creating workplace safety and cleanliness awareness initiatives

All of these tasks are critical because failure to comply with safety and operations rules and regulations can result in the loss of a facility’s Joint Accreditation and the closure of that facility.

More importantly, medical facilities managers play a role in patient outcomes. Effective facilities management in healthcare settings can slow or even prevent the spread of aggressive pathogens, help patients get the treatments and medications they need to heal more quickly, and prevent deadly medical mistakes.


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What kinds of degrees do healthcare facilities managers have?

In some cases, healthcare facilities managers have no formal degrees at all. However, according to one study examining hiring trends in healthcare facilities management, a “large majority of FM professionals possess degrees before entering the field.” While older healthcare facilities managers were more likely to enter the profession via the building trades, younger professionals in this discipline are much more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree—but not facilities management degrees. Surprisingly, very few healthcare facilities managers graduate from academic programs specifically designed for facilities managers.

It isn’t that facilities management degree programs don’t exist. The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) maintains a small searchable database of accredited programs at the associates, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels (it currently lists 36 institutions).

Which colleges offer an undergraduate degree in healthcare facilities management?

Owensboro Community and Technical College is one of the few schools that offers a degree in medical facilities management. The college’s 65-credit Healthcare Facilities Leadership associate’s degree program includes classes like:

  • Intro to Healthcare Facility Management
  • Introduction to the Healthcare Industry
  • Infection Control and Prevention
  • Compliance, Codes, and Standards
  • Maintenance and Operations I and II
  • Planning, Design, and Construction I and II
  • Compliance, Codes, and Standards
  • Personal and Organization Leadership
  • Principles of Microeconomics

Most people in healthcare facilities management, however, don’t have a degree in their chosen discipline. Instead, healthcare facilities managers graduate from engineering, business administration, technology, construction, architecture, and even healthcare administration degree programs. There just aren’t that many associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree programs focused entirely on facilities management, and no healthcare facilities management programs exist at the bachelor’s degree level at all.

You can find IFMA Foundation-accredited facilities management bachelor’s degree programs at:

In these programs, students learn how to manage staff, oversee the upkeep of buildings, and keep building occupants safe. The coursework in these programs touches on:

  • Electrical systems
  • Mechanical systems
  • General maintenance
  • Preventative maintenance
  • Energy maintenance
  • Fire safety
  • Life safety
  • Human resources management
  • Project administration

Some courses are very technical and hands-on. When you earn a healthcare facilities management degree or general facilities management degree at the undergraduate level, you’ll handle electrical equipment and learn to maintain mechanical systems.

Are there master’s degree programs in healthcare facilities management?

There are only a handful accredited facilities management master’s degree programs in all of North America, and again, these are facilities management programs that may or may not touch on the unique requirements of healthcare facilities. Students study more advanced concepts related to:

  • The construction of facilities
  • Property development
  • Real estate management
  • Facility maintenance and operation
  • Energy management
  • Project management for facilities
  • Sustainability in construction and operations
  • Human resources
  • Leadership principles
  • Managerial finance
  • Strategic planning in operations
  • Facilities administration

You can find accredited master’s degree programs in facilities management at:

Is it possible to study healthcare facilities management online?

If you want to study healthcare facilities management online, your options are even more limited. Again, there are no healthcare-specific online degree programs for facilities managers, but a few schools do offer online facilities management degrees. SUNY – System Office offers an Associate of Applied Science in Facilities Management that can be earned entirely online. Wentworth Institute of Technology offers an online Bachelor of Science in Facility Management. Arizona State University has a Facility Management master’s program that students can complete online. Finally, Indiana University has an MS in Technology with a Facilities Management Emphasis program that can be completed entirely online.

Are there certificate programs in healthcare facilities management?

Few colleges and universities offer healthcare-specific facilities management certificates—again, Owensboro Community and Technical College is a leader here—but many have general facilities management certificate programs. These can be good resume boosters for professionals with bachelor’s degrees or master’s degrees in unrelated disciplines who are already working in medical facilities. Programs typically cover topics like preventive maintenance, operations management, project administration and supervision, mechanical and electrical systems maintenance, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and safety standards.

You can find these programs (which can usually be completed in one year) at:

Distance learning options exist to help prepare you to apply for jobs or to earn the Certified Healthcare Facility Manager (CHFM) credential offered by the American Hospital Association. The American Society for Health Care Engineering, for instance, has a lineup of courses and workshops for healthcare facility managers.

Certificate programs and online continuing education courses can’t replicate the value of a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. Still, they might just give you an advantage when you’re searching for an entry-level healthcare facility management job.

Is a healthcare facilities management degree all I’ll need to get a job?

Education isn’t all it takes to become a healthcare facility manager—and in some cases, degrees are a lot less critical than certification. Earning the Certified Healthcare Facility Manager credential is a must if you want to work in medical facilities management. There are plenty of general certifications for facility managers, including a Facility Management Professional credential and a Certified Facility Manager credential, but many employers—in particular large healthcare networks and hospitals—require facilities managers to hold the specialty CHFM certification.

The certification process involves passing a comprehensive exam focused on the five most important areas of facilities management:

  • Maintenance and operations
  • Code compliance
  • Planning, design, and construction
  • Financial management
  • Administration

This certification is not open to just anyone. Candidates for the CHFM exam must have documented facility management, construction, or facility maintenance experience in a healthcare setting and be willing to complete at least 45 hours of continuing education before recertifying after three years.

How will my degree affect my salary when I become a healthcare facilities manager?

When it comes to pay, health facilities management is a great job. According to PayScale, the average certified healthcare facility manager salary is about $98,000 and the top 10 percent of healthcare facility managers make $130,000 (much more than facilities managers in other industries typically earn). Your degrees and health facilities management certifications will play a role in whether you make it into that 10 percent.

According to the 2019 Health Facilities Management salary survey, having the CHFM credential can increase your paycheck by 21 percent, while the AHE Certified Health Care Environmental Services Professional (CHESP) designation can provide a 28 percent bump. With certification and an associate’s degree, you can already expect to earn close to $90,000. Healthcare facilities managers with bachelor’s degrees already earn nearly $110,000, and with a master’s degree, you might earn top dollar in the field.

In other words, a degree related to healthcare facilities management represents an excellent investment.

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

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Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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