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Contract Manager: Job Duties & Career Requirements

Keep reading to learn what contract managers do. Find out what the education and certification requirements are for employment. Get the details about the career outlook and earning potential for this job to decide if it's right for you.

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Career Definition

Contract managers, also referred to as contract administrators, are responsible for preparing and reviewing business contracts for the purchase or sale of materials and services. Contract professionals analyze bids and proposals and ensure that the specifications of binding agreements with customers, vendors, and employees are legal and comply with company policy. In 2007, more than half of all contract managers were employed by a government contractor and more than a quarter worked for the federal government, according to the National Contract Management Association (

Become a Contract Manager

Education Required

Applicants for entry-level contract management positions should have a bachelor's degree in a business field and 2-3 years of contract-related experience. Applicants with degrees in business law and business administration are particularly desirable.

Certification Requirements

Mid- and senior-level contract managers must be Certified Commercial Contracts Managers (CCCM) or Certified Federal Contracts Managers (CFCM). These certifications are awarded by the National Contract Management Association to contract professionals who pass relevant exams and meet the minimum working experience requirements.

Required Skills

Knowledge of contracting concepts and contract acquisition law and regulations are essential for any career in contract management. Strong communication and negotiation skills are also desirable. Undergraduate courses in economics, negotiations, business management, finance, business law, and contract law help hone these skills. Mid- and senior-level contract managers must also possess strong leadership traits and be competent managers and trainers.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary of purchasing managers, including contract managers, was approximately $100,170 in May 2012 ( A 2007 survey by the National Contract Management Association found that salary increased with education level and years worked in the contract management field. Jobs for purchasing managers are expected to increase 2% from 2012-2022, per the BLS; any increase in employment of this type in fields like healthcare is expected to be off-set by declines in fields like manufacturing.

Alternate Career Options

Financial Manager

A financial manager coordinates and oversees the financial activities of a company or organization according to set strategies, policies or applicable regulations. He or she is responsible for preparing and analyzing financial reports, watching industry performance, and advising management on subjects like investing, downsizing or expansion in order to obtain greater profits. This job requires at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. Employers typically seek candidates with several years of related experience, such as in auditing, accounting or financial analysis. Financial managers may pursue voluntary professional certification to improve job prospects. According to the BLS, financial managers earned median pay of $109,740 in 2012; the greatest number of jobs were located in California, New York, Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey. The overall employment increase for financial managers is expected to be 9% from 2012-2022, per the BLS.

Marketing Manager

Marketing managers use a variety of tools and techniques to gauge the interest of consumers in a product or service - typically their company's and their company's competitors; they also figure out what kinds of consumers are likely to want to buy a particular product or service, and at what price. Jobs in this field require a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject and some work experience in the field, too. The median pay for this occupation was $119,480 in 2012, per the BLS; most marketing managers worked in California, New York, Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey that year. Employment is projected to increase 12% from 2012-2022, also per the BLS.

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