Contract specialists, also known as purchasing managers, coordinate the purchases and contracts for an organization. Online certificate programs are available through employers and colleges, usually through schools of continuing education and professional development departments. Prior to enrollment, students may need to get access to specialized software.
Certificates may be offered through completion of for-credit programs requiring approximately five courses, or they may be offered through one umbrella course based on hours instead of credits. Students who enroll in these programs may have little or no experience; in rare cases, advanced training for experienced contract specialists is available. Programs cover the following subjects:
- Legal and regulatory standards for purchasing contracts
- Professional ethics
- Public sector purchasing
- Vendor selection
- Supply chain management
Colleges or universities that offer certificate programs don't usually have any educational prerequisites. Students may need to complete an application for admission to the school, though.
Contract specialists who enroll in a formal certificate training program offered by a college or university typically sign up for a session with a set start and end date. Schools typically use an online course delivery system, with course materials and assignments exchanged through a specialized interface. These programs may be asynchronous; however, there may be firm deadlines for turning in assignments. Students may be required to purchase textbooks on their own.
Some employers offer their own internal online training options for contract specialists. Learners are introduced to company-specific policies and procedures applicable to buying products or services from vendors. They may learn how to assess products or services to get the best value for the money, choose a vendor and prepare a contract.
Employers who offer contract specialist training usually offer it to those working in that job title. There aren't typically any additional requirements for workplace training.
Contract specialists may complete guided or self-directed training programs. Employer-provided training materials may be freely available to learners directly online. Audio and slide show presentations may be available and broken up into units. These may be accompanied by text-based guidelines or help questions designed for quick reference in the workplace. Other training programs may be delivered by an online course delivery system that requires registration for login credentials.
Basic Skill and Technical Requirements
Students who participate in online training programs are usually expected to have basic computer skills, including the ability to use a mouse, send and receive e-mail, and add or download attachments. Some familiarity with using the Internet may also be generally expected. Some specialized software may be required, although the requirements can vary among school or employer-based programs.
In online training programs for aspiring contract specialists, students learn about purchasing, procurement and other logistics-related topics. The online coursework may be offered in a wide range of media formats, and the scheduling constraints also vary by program.