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Contract Manager

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree
Average Salary: $60,000-$98,700 per year
Job Outlook: Fair

Contract manager job descriptions will vary from one company to the next. Although many contract management positions are moving towards all the pre-contract through post-contract work, many companies have contract managers on staff that only deal with one end or the other. Pre-contract, these managers are often responsible for contacting vendors, initiating and negotiating contracts, and documenting contracts, often in conjunction with the legal department of a company. Throughout the contract period, contract managers often check that the contract is being fulfilled, and after the contract is completed they are responsible for closing out the contract.

Often times, the contract manager works with the staff and company to create a standard for all company contracts and to maintain contract information and records. They may also work with Risk Management and Finance departments in larger companies to pin down insurance and financial requirements. The role of a contract manager can vary hugely between companies. Often with smaller companies, a contract manager will wear more “hats” and deal with more legal, financial, and risk management issues first-hand. In larger companies, the roles are more likely to be compartmentalized, so the manager will work primarily with the contract and the contracted vendor or supplier.

Education and Training Requirements

Entry-level contract managers should have a bachelor’s degree in business, business law, or similar fields. They should also have between two and five years of experience in business or contract-related fields. Recommended college courses for contract managers include business, computing, administration, and economics courses.

Further certification through organizations like the National Contract Management Association can make you more marketable in this competitive job field. Certification options include Certified Commercial Contracts Manager and Certified Federal Contracts Manager. Entry-level candidates can have some business or business law experience and will most likely receive on-the-job training by handling small, low-risk contracts before working into higher-risk contracts for their employer.

Getting the Job

Those with proper education and business-related experience can often move straight into a lower-level contract management position. Internships may be available, and can help boost your chances of getting a job right away. Contract managers for higher-level positions are often hired from within, though, you may be able to get an upper-level contract management position at a larger company with the right experience.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Growth prospects in this field are very tied to the economy, so expect to find jobs more easily when the economy is experiencing growth and more contracts between companies are necessary. In the best of times, though, contract management positions can be competitive, and preparing yourself through certification and continuing education is an excellent idea. Luckily, many contract management positions require the manager to be on-site, so outsourcing is not likely for these jobs.

Contract managers can advance to higher contract management positions with good work, and they may also advance to other management positions within the business. Because contract management involves so many various responsibilities and tasks, it can be a good stepping stone on the way to upper-level management even in other areas.

Working Conditions and Environment

The typical contract manager works in an office environment. Some travel to vendors’ places of business or work sites, if the contract in question is a construction contract, may be required. Contract managers typically work an average full-time work week unless there is a problem with a contract, in which case overtime may be required. This is not generally considered a high-stress position as long as one has excellent interpersonal and communications skills and is very organized and detail-oriented.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for contract managers is between $60,000 and $98,700 per year, with higher salaries available for those who have greater levels of experience. Contract managers in industries that require high-risk contracts, including clinical research, aerospace, and defense may have higher starting salaries and salary caps.

These salaried, full-time positions normally come with health and vacation benefits, and many positions include an annual bonus based on performance on the job.

Where to Go for More Information
To find out more information about contract management and certification for contract managers, check out the following resources:

Association of Professional Office Managers
PO Box 1296
Rockville, MD 20849
(240) 654-9108

National Contract Management Association
21740 Beaumeade Circle, Ste. 125
Ashburn, VA 20147
(800) 344-8096

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesBusiness