How is a building like an orchestra? It has many sections and requires a skilled conductor. With multiple large-scale systems running at the same time, a facility or building manager needs to be able to conduct to the best of their ability. A Systems Maintenance Technician (SMT) designation could be the next step in perfecting a building’s symphony.
A Systems Maintenance Technician designation is built for those who operate major systems such as HVAC or plumbing. The designation is meant for those who wish to increase the efficiency and safety of their building and learn how to maximize the skills they already have.
The program, offered by BOMI, involves five required courses:
The courses are meant to expand upon existing knowledge and help professionals become well versed in the systems requirements of commercial real estate.
While a great machinist or maintenance technician will usually be able to find work, being able to claim expertise in multiple systems involved in a building can take a resume to the top. In some states, jobs aren’t available for those without a qualification certifying their knowledge of multiple areas.
Mark Gallman of Highwoods Properties had been a machinist for many years before earning his SMT and joining the CRE industry. He had experienced plant closings before, but when the layoffs came at Lockheed, Gallman saw a workplace phenomenon.
“I couldn’t help but notice that none of the facilities maintenance technicians got laid off,” Gallman said. “In fact many of the employees slated for lay off were actually absorbed into facilities maintenance. I have been in this commercial real estate career for 18 years now, and it has been the most recession proof job that I have had.”
The transition to commercial real estate was made possible for Gallman when he earned his SMT, built upon his 20 years of machining and began a new career.
This course is built for other working professionals. The content is relevant, and the pace makes sense for those balancing another job and instruction. It is also unique, offering education in areas that may not all be covered in a tech college course, or at all.
Dan Kelsey, director of engineering at SK Commercial Reality, enjoyed his class experience and said earning the SMT helped him advance in his facilities career.
“Tech school had no offering in how to run an office building,” Kelsey said. “The company I was with suggested BOMA SMT and SMA classes. The courses were organized in great categories and slow paced so people could work and go to class too.
Maybe you were trained in electrical, but don’t know HVAC. Maybe you spent your time in plumbing, but don’t have a firm grasp over energy management. The SMT is made to build off your existing skills and fill the gaps in order to properly prepare you for a career in commercial real estate.
“Thermodynamics and understanding how HVAC is simply a function of moving energy around from one place to another, was extremely interesting,” Gallman said. “In my machinist days, HVAC was a big black box with weird science that I didn’t fully understand. Once I was in the SMT, SMA program, studying with industry professionals and working with specific equipment in my job every day, the technical world of HVAC opened up for me.”
If you are looking for a career change, a sharper knowledge of facilities systems or are ready to take the next step in your career, consider the SMT. It may be the thing that opens a new door into CRE
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