Contract specialists work in the public, private, and military sectors, ensuring contracts and related documentation - such as insurance requirements, government regulations and safety standards - are accurate and up to date. Degree programs in contract management are mainly found at the graduate level; however, there are some undergraduate programs in management that incorporate coursework in contracts and acquisitions. The main topics of study include contract negotiation, global business economics and organizational behavior. Graduates who have at least a bachelor's degree may earn professional certifications, provided they have sufficient experience. Some master's programs will require a capstone project in order to graduate.
Bachelor's degree program admission policies vary from school to school. Applicants are required to hold a high school diploma or GED certificate, and in some cases they need to have earned an associate's degree prior to admission. A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite to enter master's degree programs with a contract specialty.
Bachelor's Degrees with Contract Management Coursework
Many bachelor-level management programs include mandatory coursework focusing on contract and acquisitions policies and procedures. With between one and a few contracts classes built into most curricula in the field, students receive a sufficient basis for pursuing a graduate degree in contract management. A contract management major is comprised of general education courses, core management classes, and electives. Themes covered include:
- Introduction to organizational behavior
- Business management strategies
- Ethics and law issues for managers
- Human resources management
- Organization development
- Survey of global business economics and practices
Master of Science in Acquisition and Contract Management
The design of master's degree programs in contract management is to provide instruction and training in current federal procurement procedures, contract administration and other issues associated with acquisition and contract management. Some benefits of earning a graduate degree in this field include an increased chance for management responsibilities, promotional opportunities, and upper-level salary. A number of enrollees already work in contract administration for non-profit, private and public organizations.
In addition to classroom instruction, master's degree programs for aspiring contract specialists require the completion of a capstone project. These are primarily investigative in nature and focus on corporate strategic development, organizational goal setting, or case analyses. Class topics include:
- Legal aspects of contracting
- Contract pricing and negotiation
- Strategic purchasing and logistics
- Commercial transactions in a technological setting
- Applied supply chain management
Popular Career Options
Graduates from a master's degree program in contract management have a number of employment options to consider. Common options include:
- Acquisitions manager or administrator
- Procurement specialist, manager or administrator
- Purchaser or buyer
- Logistics specialist, analyst, manger or administrator
- Government acquisitions and procurement
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that occupations related to contract management, such as purchasing managers, are expected to see an employment increase of four percent between the years of 2018 and 2028. The average yearly salary for purchasing managers was $125,630 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
There are a number of institutes of higher learning that provide continuing education opportunities for those with a bachelor's degree in management, including not only master's degree but also graduate certificate programs. The U.S. government offers contract specialists with some experience and at least a bachelor's degree the opportunity to earn a Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting (FAC-C) designation. This 3-level program for contract development and analysis is administered by the Federal Acquisition Institute (www.fai.gov). Other professional certification programs are available from the National Contract Management Association (www.ncmahq.org).
For individuals interested in becoming contract specialists, there are a couple of related management and business programs at the undergraduate level, while more specific master's programs in contract management are available.