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Senior Contract Administrator: Job Description and Career Info

Senior contract administrators evaluate, negotiate and prepare contracts for projects, services or tangible goods. Continue reading to learn how you can become a senior contract administrator, as well as how much you can earn in the field.

Career Definition of a Senior Contract Administrator

According to the National Association of Legal Assistants and Paralegals, the terms contract administrator and contract manager may be used interchangeably (www.nala.org). Job duties can include negotiating and creating contracts, comparing bids and ensuring contractor compliance over the terms of the agreement. Senior administrators may also oversee lower-level employees in the contract department, revise existing documents and prepare briefs and reports. Other professional responsibilities can vary according to the employer, which can include governments, businesses, law offices, academic institutions and the military.

Education Bachelor's degree in business administration/relevant field; master's degrees in contract management available
Job Skills Knowledge of agreement and law language, oral and written communication abilities, leadership
Median Annual Salary (2019)* $81,103 (senior contract managers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)** 10% (administrative services managers)

Source: *Payscale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

In general, a bachelor's degree in a relevant field of study, such as business administration, can help to prepare students for a career in contract administration. Graduate-level programs can lead to a Master of Science in Acquisition and Contract Management or Government Contracts. Some schools offer short-term certificate programs for professionals that cover topics in contract law, ethics, negotiation and performance. According to the National Contract Management Association, senior-level positions may require professional certification, such as the Certified Commercial Contracts Manager, Certified Professional Contracts Manager or Certified Federal Contracts Manager (www.ncmahq.org).

Required Skills

General knowledge of contractual agreement language and law is essential for senior contract administrators; good oral and writing skills are beneficial, especially when preparing presentations and documents. Leadership and an understanding of interpersonal relationships may be helpful during the negotiating process.

Career and Salary Outlook

Prior to hiring, senior contract administrators usually have at least ten years of experience as a contract administrator or manager. According to April 2019 data from PayScale.com, the median annual salary for a senior contract administrator is $81,103 (www.payscale.com). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that projected job growth for all administrative service managers from 2016-2026 will be 10% (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Below are some similar career options to a senior contract administrator:

Arbitrators, Mediators and Conciliators

Arbitrators are third-party business people or licensed attorneys who help individuals or companies reach formal, binding agreements. Their work is similar to that of neutral conciliators and mediators, who facilitate agreements but do not issue decisions. Educational requirements vary according to the position, and may range from a bachelor's degree in a particular subject area to a Master of Business Administration or Juris Doctor. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), arbitrators, conciliators and mediators had a median annual income of $62,270, as of May 2018. Opportunities for employment are expected to grow by the faster-than-average rate of 10% between 2016 and 2026 (www.bls.gov).

Judges and Hearing Officers

Judges and hearing officers are employed by local, state and federal courts, where they research, evaluate and oversee legal issues, including civil disputes or criminal proceedings. Most judges or hearing officers have a law degree, and program requirements may include courses in civil, constitutional and contractual law. Experience as a practicing attorney is also required, after which, aspiring candidates are either appointed or elected to the bench. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for a sitting hearing officer or judge in May 2018 was $117,190, with a 5% increase in job openings projected from 2016 to 2026 (www.bls.gov).


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