Students can earn a certificate or master's degree relating to contract management, which teaches them to create and administer contracts between a variety of parties, including customers, vendors and employees. The effective management of contracts is a valuable part of the overall health of any private business or public institution. Many employers prefer candidates that hold a master's degree in the field of contract management. At the very least, aspiring contract managers should earn a bachelor's degree in business. Many undergraduate degree holders supplement their education with a contract management certificate. Many schools offer online contract management programs.
Contract Management Certificate
Certificate programs in contract management are geared towards working professionals who may not have the time or resources to commit to a full-time degree program. These certificate programs focus solely on contract topics and techniques, including contract monitoring and contract problem resolution. Some programs offer separate certificates for commercial and government contract management. Some common course topics include:
- Advanced contract management
- Procurement policy and practices
- Advanced contracting by negotiation
- Services contracting
- Standards for actions and decisions
Master's in Acquisition and Contract Management
A Master of Science (M.S.) in Acquisition and Contract Management is a 2-year, graduate degree program that builds upon the basic skills acquired in an undergraduate business program. The program introduces students to advanced contractual techniques related to the acquisition of goods or services. Students study negotiation techniques and legal issues associated with contracts. Some course topics might include:
- Financial reporting and analysis
- Project management
- Legal considerations in contracting
- Logistics management
- Advanced law
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, administrative service managers make a mean annual wage of $94,840. The job outlook for this career is expected to grow 8% from 2014-2024, which is as fast as the average for all other occupations.
The National Contract Management Association (NCMA) administers a series of certifications for employees working in the field. The association currently offers the following three certification options: Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM), Certified Commercial Contracts Manager (CCCM) and Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM). Employees interested in certification must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and pass the corresponding certification exam. The federal and commercial contracts manager certifications require that candidates have one year of professional experience in the field. The professional certification requires five years of professional experience in contract management.
Contract management workshops are widely available. Workshops may offer instruction in a variety of related topics, such as contract risks, negotiating skills and contract provisions. These seminars may include discussions of changes in legislation that affect business contracts. Employees new to the field may benefit from such seminars. The NCMA offers 1-day educational events geared towards employees new to the field. Subjects covered may include contract pricing, cost estimation and performance based acquisition.
Contract management degree programs can be found at both the certificate and master's level. These programs educate students on advanced law and contractual techniques that will help in preparing contracts between parties.