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How to Become a Contract Administrator/Manager

Are you excellent at reading contracts? Do you have the ability to confidently draw up contracts between parties? As a contract administrator, you’ll need these skills! You will be busy interpreting terms of contracts between two organizations. This may be the organization you’re working for, or for two independent organizations. You will need to review documents to ensure that they meet the objectives and legally conform to requirements. Because of this, you should have excellent reading skills and experience in managing contracts.

It’s also important for you to have a knowledge of the industry you’re working in. At the least, this requires knowing federal and state contract laws and regulations. You should be comfortable thinking analytically to decipher research and legal bylaws. If you possess all of these skills, you would make a great fit as a contract administrator.

Sample job description

Contract administrators manage business contracts for organizations. They review each contract and ensure they meet objectives and conform to legislative requirements. Contract administrators need to have excellent verbal and written communication skills and a high level of integrity and accountability. [Your Company Name] is searching for an experienced contract administrator to take our business to new levels. As an ideal candidate, you have experience in managing contract creation, execution, and analysis, maximizing financial and operational performance, and minimizing risk. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Discuss the proposed terms of a contract with potential partners and vendors
  • Draft contracts
  • Review proposed contracts
  • Interpret terms of a contract
  • Routinely review contracts to ensure both sides are meeting the terms

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting or pre-law. However, employers prefer that candidates have a master’s degree in business administration and coursework in business or contract law.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Knowledge of federal and state contract laws and regulations
  • Research skills
  • Analytical thinking
  • Negotiation skills
  • Organization and time management skills

Typical work environment

Contract administrators usually work in offices where they review contracts and work on a computer. Some contract administrators work from home either part of the week or all week. Contract administrators typically work from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday but may work overtime as needed to meet contract deadlines.

Typical hours

The typical work hours in an office setting for a contract administrator are from 9 AM to 5 PM. However, many work more than 40 hours a week, especially when preparing for trials or nearing deadlines.

Available certifications

Contract administrators typically work for law firms, E-discovery vendors, the government, or in academic settings. Many institutions offer certifications to help contract administrators improve their skills and knowledge. Here are some of the top certifications for Contract administrators: 

  • Certified Professional Contract Manager (CPCM). This certification is managed by the National Contract Management Association and provides you with a deep understanding of the terminology, practices, policies, and processes used in contract management. A bachelor’s degree and 5 years of related experience are required to sit for the exam. A passing score of 72.2% is needed to earn certification. 
  • Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM). The CFCM demonstrates your knowledge and skills in federal contract management. To be eligible for the exams, you are required to have a bachelor’s degree, with 24 hours of coursework in business management topics, 2 years of experience in contract management or a related field, and 120 hours of continuing professional education, at least 40 of which are specific to federal contracts management. You must pass the Business Knowledge and Federal Knowledge exams to earn the CFCM credential.

Career path

Contract administrators are required to have a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or pre-law. Some companies prefer contract administrator candidates to have an MBA as well as coursework in business or contract law. Some contract administrators begin as contract associates and progress to contract specialists before becoming contract administrators.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-3010

2020 Employment322,000
Projected Employment in 2030350,500
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 9% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift28,600 increase

There are some significant trends that industry observers say contract administrators should be aware of in the coming years. According to the digital document-signing company DocuSign, data security is a significant issue in managing contracts. The trend toward moving in-house data storage to more secure, cloud-based storage options is expected to continue, as is building provisions for data security and privacy into contracts between businesses and both consumers and other companies.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is also becoming increasingly common in the legal field. Legal teams are using AI to automate things like document creation and internal workflows, and turning clauses and concepts in contracts into searchable and filterable data.