Facilities manager

Salary and conditions

  • Graduate facilities managers at entry level can expect to earn £18,000 – £22,000. The highest salaries are in London and the South East and in graduate training schemes.
  • Salaries rise with experience and vary according to sector, function and location. Achieving chartered status will result in higher pay. Senior facilities managers may earn £26,000 – £38,000 or up to £60,000 if they have UK-wide responsibilities.
  • The increase in public-private partnership funding has increased opportunities in facilities management and these projects are more likely to offer financial bonuses and better salary increases.
  • Working hours are generally 40 per week, though longer hours may be required on occasion to meet project deadlines or to cover emergencies. Some facilities management roles may require shift work in order to cover 24-hour operations. Meetings and visits may sometimes necessitate out-of-hours working.
  • Additional benefits often include a pension scheme, private health care, performance-related bonuses, company car or car allowance and profit share or share save schemes.
  • Women are slightly under represented in facilities management, but the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM)  does have a ‘Women in FM’ special interest group, which helps with networking and development.
  • Opportunities exist all over the UK in both the public and the private sectors.
  • Travel during the working day may be required in order to visit different premises and absence from home overnight is sometimes necessary.
  • Long-term projects may demand flexibility or relocation.
  • There may be opportunities for overseas travel.

 

Job description

Facilities managers are responsible for the management of services and processes that support the core business of an organisation. They ensure that an organisation has the most suitable working environment for its employees and their activities. Duties vary with the nature of the organisation, but facilities managers generally focus on using best business practice to improve efficiency, by reducing operating costs while increasing productivity.

This is a wide field with a diverse range of responsibilities, which are dependant on the structure of the organisation. Facilities managers are involved in both strategic planning and day-to-day operations, particularly in relation to buildings and premises. Likely areas of responsibility include:

  • procurement and contract management;
  • building and grounds maintenance;
  • cleaning;
  • catering and vending;
  • health and safety;
  • security;
  • utilities and communications infrastructure;
  • space management.

 

Typical work activities

 

Facilities managers are employed in all sectors and industries and the diversity of the work may be reflected in different job titles such as operations, estates, technical services, asset or property manager. Responsibilities often cover several departments, as well as central services that link to all the teams in the organisation. In smaller companies, duties may include more practical and hands-on tasks. Many facilities management professionals are employed on a consultancy basis, contracted to manage some or all of these activities by a client organisation.

Typical tasks may include:

  • preparing documents to put out tenders for contractors;
  • project management and supervising and coordinating work of contractors;
  • investigating availability and suitability of options for new premises;
  • calculating and comparing costs for required goods or services to achieve maximum value for money;
  • planning for future development in line with strategic business objectives;
  • managing and leading change to ensure minimum disruption to core activities;
  • liaising with tenants of commercial properties;
  • directing and planning essential central services such as reception, security, maintenance, mail, archiving, cleaning, catering, waste disposal and recycling;
  • ensuring the building meets health and safety requirements;
  • planning best allocation and utilisation of space and resources for new buildings, or re-organising current premises;
  • checking that agreed work by staff or contractors has been completed satisfactorily and following up on any deficiencies;
  • coordinating and leading one or more teams to cover various areas of responsibility;
  • using performance management techniques to monitor and demonstrate achievement of agreed service levels and to lead on improvement;
  • responding appropriately to emergencies or urgent issues as they arise.

 

Entry requirements

Entry is open to graduates of all disciplines although certain subjects are particularly useful. The University of Central Lancashire offers a degree in facilities management, but other relevant subjects include:

  • building management;
  • construction;
  • surveying;
  • business studies;
  • engineering;
  • property.

Entry can be made with just an HND/foundation degree and it is helpful if the qualification is in a relevant subject such as facilities management, business studies or management.

Entry without a degree/HND is possible although this will usually be at a lower level. Once a job is obtained, relevant qualifications are usually then studied for. This includes level 3 qualifications from the Institute of Leadership and Management  which consist of an award, certificate and diploma in facilities management.

Postgraduate qualifications are useful and may improve your chances of securing a job, but they are not essential. Postgraduate diplomas and Masters are available in facilities management and the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM)  has a list of accredited courses. These qualifications are sometimes taken while working to aid career progression.

It is also possible to move into this job from another related role, especially if relevant professional qualifications, such as those in surveying, accountancy and estate management, have been obtained. It is common for those with some sort of building services/engineering or office management/administration background to enter facilities management.

Candidates need to show evidence of the following skills and abilities:

  • organisation and systematic thinking;
  • strong numeracy and the ability to understand financial data;
  • research skills and the ability to draw information from various sources, including people;
  • IT skills;
  • clear and concise writing skills and the ability to handle long and complex documents;
  • interpersonal, relationship-building and negotiation skills;
  • spatial awareness and the ability to work with diagrams;
  • flexibility and the ability to work on more than one task at a time.

Pre-entry experience is desirable and a placement year in industry from a relevant degree can prove to be particularly useful. Any experience in related areas such as management, building or construction will also be a help, so consider any part-time or vacation work in relation to this.

For more information, see work experience and internships and search courses and research.

 

 

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Ergonomist

Salary and conditions

  • Range of typical starting salaries for new ergonomics graduates: £20,000 – £25,000.
  • Range of salaries with around five years’ experience: £25,000 – £40,000.
  • Senior ergonomists can earn up to £60,000.
  • Salaries vary significantly between large industrial companies and universities. Earnings in consultancies are equally variable. Those with an ergonomics degree in addition to relevant experience from a previous profession can earn higher salaries than those stated above.
  • Ergonomists generally work office hours, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but overtime and weekend or shift work may be required depending on the employer and the project.
  • Working environments can differ enormously. However, the work often involves a combination of office or laboratory-based activities and field work/externally based tasks.
  • Self-employment/freelance work is possible for those with experience in a specific area.
  • There are many opportunities in the field to undertake individual research. This usually involves liaising with other freelance ergonomists.
  • Because of ongoing developments in technology and design, ergonomists must be prepared to continue learning throughout their careers.
  • Jobs are available in most areas but mobility may be necessary to secure promotion.
  • The work can be stressful because of the demands of the clients and professionals in other fields.
  • The work often involves interacting with a range of people within a team of professionals and/or working with clients or with individuals in the process of assessing workplace issues.
  • Travel within a working day and absence from home at night can be frequent but varies according to the focus of the role. Overseas work or travel is occasional.

Job description

Ergonomists are concerned with the safety and efficiency of equipment, systems and transportation. They use scientific information to ensure the health, comfort and protection of the people using them and due to the nature of the work can find themselves in a wide range of environments. According to the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors , ‘Ergonomics is the application of scientific information concerning humans to the design of objects, systems and environment for human use.’

By scientifically studying the relationship between people, environments and equipment, ergonomists can use their findings to improve human interaction with processes and systems. Areas of work include product/equipment design, production systems, information and advanced technology and transport design.

They may work in consultancy, research, development or teaching and may also be called human factors specialists

Typical work activities

An ergonomist’s work activities vary widely but are always based on ensuring that a system or product meets the needs of the user and will usually include:

  • investigating the physical capabilities and limitations of the human body;
  • analysing how people use equipment and machinery;
  • undertaking workplace risk assessments;
  • assessing work environments and their effect on users;
  • utilising assessment results to identify areas for improvement;
  • designing practical solutions to implement these improvements;
  • producing user manuals to ensure the best use of new systems or products;
  • producing reports of findings and recommendations;
  • writing proposals and compiling statistical data;
  • using detailed knowledge of the human body to improve the design of products, such as cars and leisure facilities;
  • interviewing individuals and observing them in a particular type of environment, as part of the research process;
  • liaising with staff at all levels of an organisation to undertake research;
  • visiting a wide range of environments, such as offices, factories, hospitals and oil rigs, in order to assess health and safety standards or to investigate workplace accidents;
  • providing advice, information and training to colleagues and clients;
  • acting as an expert witness in cases of industrial injury;
  • developing a clear understanding of how specific industries and their systems work in a short space of time;
  • managing sections of projects;
  • presenting to clients, conferences and professional societies;
  • identifying opportunities for new work.

Entry requirements

There are two common routes to qualifying as a professional ergonomist:

  • a BSc in Ergonomics recognised by the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors;
  • a relevant postgraduate qualification (MSc or PhD by course or research).

For entry via the postgraduate route, a degree in a relevant subject is required. Examples include:

  • engineering;
  • computer science/software engineering;
  • mathematics/physics;
  • operational research;
  • physiotherapy/occupational therapy;
  • medicine;
  • design;
  • sports science;
  • psychology;
  • biology.

Some distance learning courses, leading to a relevant postgraduate certificate, diploma or MSc are also available. Visit the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors  website for more information.

A high standard of academic qualifications is usually sought by employers.

Some courses include a year of practical experience. The choice of course and the type of pre-course qualification you have may affect the type of areas in which you can specialise as a professional ergonomist. The Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors’ website has details of recognised and qualifying courses. As there are more places on postgraduate courses, more graduates will enter the profession with a Masters.

Entry is not possible with an HND only.

Applicants with a relevant postgraduate qualification will have an advantage, particularly if this is combined with related work experience, specifically in industry.

Whilst pre-entry experience is not required, work in a relevant environment can be useful. Employers usually favour candidates with some level of industrial experience.

Potential candidates will need to show evidence of the following:

  • a good level of numeracy;
  • the ability to understand technical concepts;
  • an interest in people’s behaviour in different situations;
  • problem-solving skills;
  • a systematic approach to studying people in their work environment and producing research;
  • the ability to work well with people at all levels;
  • good communication and negotiation skills.

Membership of the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors is open to anyone but those who are qualified and experienced gain entry to the professional register, which is sent out to employers and profiled on the institute’s website. Membership can also be a useful way of forging professional contacts. The institute also runs a work experience scheme, ‘Opening Doors’, which operates an online placement service, available to student members. Use projects on degree courses to develop areas of specialty and to create opportunities for holiday work. Sandwich options on degree courses are also very useful. A valuable way to gain greater insight into the profession is to talk to working ergonomists. Contact the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors for more information about speaking to professionals in the field.

The hardest job to get is the first one, meaning that initially competition is high but there is a great demand for ergonomists with over three years’ experience. This field welcomes mature candidates and is open to those starting new careers. A high proportion of ergonomists enter the profession in their 30s and 40s and come from a range of backgrounds, including physiotherapy, psychology and engineering.

For more information, see work experience and internships and search courses and research.

Civil Service fast streamer

Salary and conditions

  • Starting salaries usually range between £25,000 and £27,000.
  • Typical salary after promotion, usually after four to five years but dependent entirely on performance: around £45,000, eventually rising to around £57,000 or more.
  • These salary ranges apply to London-based posts. Most entry-level posts are based in London. Starting salaries can vary across departments and sometimes departments offer pay above the minimum to reflect certain experience or qualifications (e.g. a relevant postgraduate degree).
  • Departments differ quite widely in their range of work and style. Some roles require long and/or irregular hours, but working hours are more likely to be a standard nine to five and most roles do not require working weekends or shifts.
  • A generous holiday entitlement of 25 days plus 10.5 days public and privilege holidays are given.
  • A large proportion of the work is office based.
  • Family friendly benefits, including flexible working hours and job sharing, are widely available. Many departments also offer crèches, holiday play schemes or childcare assistance. Some departments offer loans for transport season tickets, and access to sports and social facilities.
  • Part-time work and career breaks are possible but self-employment/freelance work is not.
  • It is often necessary to work under considerable pressure.
  • Although slightly more than half of Civil Service jobs are held by women, men continue to be over-represented in the more senior roles. The Civil Service is committed to increasing diversity in its workforce and regularly publishes its employment statistics.
  • Initially, jobs are in restricted locations. Most departments will start Fast Stream recruits in London, but many civil servants, including senior staff, work outside the South East. There are also opportunities in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield, for example.
  • Travel within a working day, absence from home overnight and overseas work or travel may be required occasionally. Relocation and mobility may be required to make progress in some departments and may be a permanent fact of life in others.

    Job description

    The Civil Service Fast Stream  is an accelerated development programme for graduates preparing them for careers at the highest levels of the Civil Service. Fast streamers are placed in regularly changing roles of intensive responsibility to prepare them for future senior managerial positions.

    Working with, and for government, Civil Service fast streamers are exposed to a range of placements in government departments and agencies. Opportunities for secondment into the private sector, charities or other public sector organisations may also be available. Placements usually last around 12 to 18 months.

    The precise nature of the job changes from placement to placement but will generally include the following types of roles:

    • policy adviser;
    • project leader;
    • consultant;
    • researcher.

    Typical work activities

    Civil Service fast streamers are expected to become skilled negotiators and good managers. After three to five years’ training, those with an aptitude for the work might be managing a multimillion-pound budget or taking the lead in drafting a government White Paper.

    Typical work activities include:

    • rapidly developing an in-depth knowledge of a particular subject or issue, to the extent that you will be consulted as a topic expert;
    • representing your department’s interests and negotiating with others to reach a position of mutual satisfaction;
    • contributing constructively to issues where many interests are involved;
    • formulating and implementing policy;
    • communicating complex ideas clearly, both orally and in writing (e.g. you may be required to summarise a 1,000 page report into a page of A4 for a busy minister);
    • adapting to different jobs, possibly in different departments on a regular basis;
    • working quickly and under pressure, often within complex rules and procedures;
    • leading and managing projects, resources and people;
    • achieving and delivering results to deadline.

    Entry requirements

    There are six fast stream options to choose from:

    • Graduate Fast Stream
    • Analytical Fast Stream
    • HR Fast Stream
    • Technology in Business Fast Stream
    • European Fast Stream
    • Northern Ireland Fast Stream

    The Graduate Fast Stream option is open to people with a degree in any discipline and is sub-divided into four further options: Central Departments; Diplomatic Service; Houses of Parliament; Science and Engineering.

    The Analytical Fast Stream option is open to graduates with a relevant degree who wish to pursue a career as an economist, social researcher or statistician.

    The HR Fast Stream option is for people wanting to build a career in all areas of the HR profession.

    The Technology in Business Fast Stream option is for those who have a strong interest in technology, particularly IT systems, and who want to be involved in managing the government’s use of technology and how this impacts on every area of society.

    European Fast Stream is suitable for people seeking a career in the EU institutions and the Northern Ireland for those seeking a Civil Service career in that country.

    The majority of fast streamers are recruited from any degree discipline (the exceptions being those entering the streams for statisticians, economists, and science and engineering). A 2:2 honours degree is the minimum entry requirement (2:1 for economists and the technology in business stream). The recruitment process is extremely thorough and places greater emphasis on future potential than past achievement. Additionally, if you have a disability that has prevented you from obtaining a degree, and you can provide alternative evidence of your suitability, the degree requirement may be waived.

    Further details about the schemes, eligibility criteria and how to apply are available from the Civil Service Fast Stream  website.

    Entry is not possible with an HND or foundation degree only. Although not essential for any of the other schemes, postgraduate qualifications are welcomed and are recognised in starting salaries.

    Pre-entry experience is not required, although sandwich course placements, vacation visits and work experience are all offered by many government departments. See the Civil Service Jobs  for details. The Civil Service Summer Diversity Internships  programme aims to improve diversity within graduate recruitment. It also provides a valuable insight into the wide ranging opportunities across the Civil Service.

    Candidates to the Fast Stream need to show evidence of the following:

    • a lively, informed but impartial interest in political and economic issues;
    • decision-making, planning and organisational skills;
    • initiative, flexibility and the ability to deal with the unexpected;
    • ability to rapidly build relationships and work in an extended team;
    • ability to translate complex and technical information, persuade and communicate;
    • commitment to personal and professional development.

    A small number of posts are available only to UK nationals, but most are open to Commonwealth Citizens or European Economic Area (EEA) Nationals with unrestricted right to reside in the UK. The Diplomatic Service has certain residency requirements for applicants (see Civil Service Fast Stream  for full details).

    Competition is very keen, with thousands of applications for just over 550 vacancies. In 2008, there were approximately 14,500 applicants across the general and specialist Fast Stream programmes.

    Applications must be made online, with varying deadlines depending on which stream you are applying for. Candidates are assessed on their drive for results, and their abilities to learn and improve, make decisions, think constructively, build productive relationships and communicate with impact. The application process involves:

    • a non-assessed stage of competency evaluations for potential applicants to assess their own suitability for the scheme;
    • online tests (verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, competency questionnaire);
    • an e-application form;
    • a supervised e-tray exercise at a regional centre;
    • a one-day assessment at a centre in London;
    • there is a specialist assessment for applicants applying to the analytical fast stream option but these applicants do not need to complete some of the earlier recruitment stages;
    • for some options there is also a final selection interview.

Actuary

Salary and conditions


  • Typical starting salaries for graduates fall generally within the range of £25,000 – £35,000. Starting salaries vary according to location. For example, salaries are likely to be higher in the London area.
  • Typical salaries for newly qualified actuaries in insurance companies may vary between £40,000 and £55,000. Salary progression is dependent upon the individual, performance, and the development of a career path. Increments are usually paid for examination success.
  • Typical salary at senior level/with experience, e.g. after 10-15 years in the role: over £60,000. There is a wide range of salaries for experienced actuaries, but high financial rewards and excellent benefits packages are common.
  • Salaries in excess of £100,000 are typical for senior actuaries.
  • Working hours typically include regular extra hours, but not necessarily weekends or shifts. In traditional areas of employment, long hours are less likely for more junior staff, e.g. graduate trainees, as they will be devoting time to study for professional examinations.
  • Self-employment and freelance work are possible but very unusual, as most actuaries are employed by large financial institutions.
  • Flexible working conditions can be negotiated with some employers, e.g. part-time work and career breaks, but this is usually dependent on the employer and individual’s circumstances.
  • Jobs are quite widely available in most large towns and cities of the UK, although London has the largest proportion of jobs.
  • Actuaries are usually expected to maintain a smart business dress code but this varies between employers.
  • Examinations are an important part of an actuarial student’s training, and study during this period may impact on your social and personal life.
  • Opportunities to travel vary between employers. For example, an insurance company with offices around the UK and/or outside the UK may require actuaries to travel from time to time. Visits to corporate clients may also be necessary, e.g. for those working in reinsurance. The amount of travel varies according to the type of actuarial work and the regional area.

Job description

Actuaries evaluate, manage and advise on financial risks. They apply their knowledge of business and economics, together with their understanding of probability theory, statistics and investment theory, to provide strategic, commercial and financial advice. The core of actuarial work lies within pensions and insurance, where professionals are most likely to start off. Some actuaries may move on to investment banks at a later stage.

Actuarial work can be diverse and ranges from highly technical roles developing complex financial products in investment banks or pensions and insurance companies to consultancy roles for those seeking a client-facing career.

Actuaries need to apply their mathematical, economic and statistical awareness to real situations in the financial world and be able to communicate the difficult topics to non-specialists. Strong communication skills are becoming an increasingly important part of the actuarial profession, and it is essential that actuaries are able to discuss complex topics in a simple way to assist their clients effectively.

Actuarial trainees may begin work as trainee pensions consultants or risk analysts while at the same time studying for professional exams. Senior actuaries can be found in consulting firms as partners, in large banks as chief risk officers or in board-level positions in insurance companies and other financial services organisations.

Typical work activities

Actuaries apply financial and statistical theories to assess the likelihood of a particular event occurring and the possible financial costs.

Specific tasks vary but work may include:

  • analysing statistical data in order to calculate, for example, accident rates for particular groups of people;
  • using mathematical modelling techniques and statistical concepts to determine probability and assess risks, such as analysing pension scheme liabilities, to price commercial insurance;
  • monitoring risk within trading positions in investment banking to ensure excessive risks are not taken during the fast pace of trading;
  • presenting reports, explaining their implications to managers and directors, and advising on risk limitation;
  • advising on issues such as the selection of investment managers or the administration of pensions and benefits;
  • working with IT professionals to develop systems to ensure compliance with the requirements of regulatory bodies;
  • communicating with clients and carrying out relationship management, including with investment managers, financial directors and external stakeholders;
  • supervising staff;
  • working with mergers and acquisitions on some occasions.

Specifically, actuaries in their day-to-day work may be responsible for the following:

  • developing new financial products;
  • conducting valuations of assets and liabilities;
  • advising on investment strategies and assessing the profitability of an investments portfolio;
  • calculating funding rates and considering assumptions for pension scheme liabilities;
  • analysing risks related to locations for catastrophe claims;
  • measuring, monitoring and mitigating portfolio and enterprise risks;
  • overseeing asset and liability modelling, product development and profit testing;
  • preparing presentations, reports, valuations and quarterly updates.

Actuaries may also be involved with the acceptance of proposals for new policies, with legal and taxation matters affecting life assurance, or with the investment of funds.

Entry requirements

Although this area of work is open to all graduates with strong numerical skills, the following degree subjects may increase your chances:

  • actuarial science or actuarial mathematics;
  • mathematics or statistics;
  • economics;
  • engineering;
  • business or finance;
  • science, e.g. physics and chemistry.

The majority of UK entrants to the profession are graduates with a first or second class honours degree. Some employers require specific degree subjects or an MSc in Actuarial Science. Graduates must have a minimum of grade B in A-level mathematics and a grade C in another A-level subject.

Employers of actuaries typically look for a 2:1 or above, ideally in a numerate subject such as mathematics, statistics or economics. Eligibility of other qualifications, including those from outside the UK and Ireland, can be checked with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, also known as The Actuarial Profession. Entry with an HND only is highly unlikely.

Details of postgraduate diploma and MSc courses in actuarial science accredited by The Actuarial Profession are available on their website. The Directory of Actuarial Employers in the UK and Ireland has a list of companies that may offer sponsorship for postgraduate study.

A degree, postgraduate diploma or MSc in actuarial science may give exemption from core technical subjects and allow qualification in a shorter time. It is also possible to get exemptions having studied a numerical degree such as mathematics or economics, provided modules include some focus on statistics and probability. Details are available from The Actuarial Profession .

Although pre-entry experience is not a requirement, talking to people in the job and, if possible, acquiring some work experience will prove invaluable. Some companies offer work placements or internships for students interested in becoming actuaries. Internships and placements can potentially be helpful in securing a graduate job, however this is dependent on the organisation. It is also useful to speak with people in the profession by approaching them at careers events or work shadowing where possible.

Candidates will need to show evidence of the following:

  • a high level of numeracy;
  • good communication skills, including the ability to convey complex information to clients;
  • analytical and creative problem-solving skills;
  • IT skills;
  • the ability to write clear reports;
  • the ability to take responsibility;
  • self-discipline and determination and an appreciation of the demands of studying while working;
  • sound judgement and a genuine interest in business;
  • genuine commitment to an actuarial career.

The Financial Mathematics Exam , offered by The Actuarial Profession to university students and people working in financial services, provides a useful starting point for those considering a career as an actuary. A Certificate in Financial Mathematics, often referred to as CT1, is awarded on successful completion. The certificate also goes towards completing the professional qualification.

For more information, see work experience and internships and search courses and research.