What Can I Do with a Contract Management Degree?

What is contracts management? What is contract management and what is it that people can do with a degree in contract management? These are important questions to consider for those looking for a good career with the possibility of growth. While there are different types of contract management, the question of what is contracts management is best answered by the name of the degree, process, and job duty.

What Is Contracts Management?

Contract management is, at its most basic level, the management of contracts. What is the contract management process? Just about everything in both the public and private sector is managed by contract. Someone needs to get the contract details right, make sure the language of the contract works, analyze contract proposals, negotiate on contract terms, and do everything else that’s inherent in a contract of any type.

contract management degree programs

As there are various types of contract management to deal with the various types of contracts out there, it’s easy to see how this career path can continue to grow and create opportunities for people. For someone whose path starts with the question of what is contracts management, the answer can lead them down multiple paths.

What is acquisition and contract management? What is procurement and contract management? What are all these different types of contract management? Understand that contracts aren’t the same between individuals, governments, businesses, and industries. This is why there are so many different types of contract management out there.

Also, contract management isn’t a single thing, as the job duties of a contract manager can vary widely depending on what types of contracts or industries the contract manager works with. This means there’s a lot of room for specialization in contract management as well as a lot of different avenues a contract management professional can take. These facts also lead to different contract management degree types.

A degree in acquisition and contract management will train someone in the field of acquisitions and procurement and contract management degrees have a similar curriculum. This is because acquisitions and procurement for industries require people who understand how to deliver the right goods for a business from another while making sure the contracts that govern those deliveries give the most benefit. These are incredibly important positions and job types and a contract management degree is the first step towards becoming part of that process.

Do Contract Management Degrees Require Accreditation?

A contracts manager education, much like any form of higher education, should always have some type of accreditation attached to it. Even when accreditation isn’t exactly necessary for a particular field, it never hurts to have a degree sanctioned by an education board, professional organization, or both. Contract management education starts with a degree program from a school, college, or university. Even if the program itself isn’t accredited, the institution that hosts the program should have some form of regional or national accreditation.

Accreditation means that a sanctioned body has evaluated the school or criteria of the program to make sure it meets academic or industry standards of quality. Many employers prefer an accredited degree because that accredited status tells them exactly what type of training or education the prospective employee received.

A regional accreditation will typically apply to the school overall, rather than a specific program within the school. These types of accreditations also make it easier for students to transfer credits if they decide to pursue their degrees in other colleges or universities. National or programmatic accreditation means that an industry or professional group has evaluated and endorsed the curriculum of a particular program. For a contract management education, this can mean the program adheres to industry standards and teaches students what they will need to know to immediately begin working in the field.

Accreditation can also become important when pursuing a contract management certification of any type. Certification programs often require some type of accreditation and many programs will include accredited certification as part of the process for graduation. No matter what, it’s important to seek accredited degrees whenever possible. Students should give themselves the most advantages when it comes to contract management education, and accreditation is an integral part of doing that.

What Can I Do with a Bachelor’s Degree in Contract Management?

When seeking accredited contract management degrees or contract management degrees online, potential students will more than likely seek a four-year course of study to obtain their bachelor’s degree. At the bachelor’s level, there’s a lot someone can do with a degree in contract management.

For those looking for contract management degrees online, there are just as many potential opportunities to earn an accredited bachelor’s degree in contract management as well, so don’t assume an online degree works any differently than a traditional one when it comes to contract management degrees.

At the bachelor’s level, students will gain an understanding of the basics of contract management, which include things like negotiation and communication. The curriculum will include courses that play into the overall nature of contract management degrees. This can mean courses on business, law, economics, research, and various other fields that someone would need to have an acquaintance with in order to craft, negotiate, analyze, or otherwise deal with contracts. Students will need to know the most common types of contracts and how they work.

It’s also possible for students to pursue a separate but related degree type with a concentration in contract management. For example, a business administration degree benefits greatly from a contract management concentration. The opposite is also true, as an acquisition and contract management degree can also have a concentration that gives it specialization.

The bachelor’s in contract management degrees have a broad focus as there’s a lot to know when it comes to contract management. A contract and acquisition management degree requires students to know the basics of business administration, business ethics, and analysis of economics. An acquisitions and contract management degree also requires students to learn proper decision-making skills, as that is an important aspect of contract management.

A contract manager will often have to solve problems, and if someone cannot adequately solve a problem for an employer than they will not last long in the contract management field. This is the type of learning that occurs at the undergraduate level. Once a student earns their degree in contract management, they can enter the field in several capacities. Various industries absolutely require people with an acquisitions and contract management degree and will go far out of their way to find someone who can work with or negotiate their contracts.

The construction industry is especially keen on hiring those with contract management degrees as practically every aspect of that industry is ran by contract. This also applies to every avenue of the business world where contracts are a heavy requirement.

Contract management degrees also lend themselves well to entry-level jobs where prospective employees can gain valuable experience, such as in management and quality control. Unlike many other degree types, a bachelor’s degree in contract management can lead someone directly toward an executive role without any further education if they gather the proper experience and take the right opportunities after graduation. That broad level of learning offered by this degree type will fit well in just about any position that requires decision-makers and people who understand the nuances of the business.
 

What Can I Do with a Master’s Degree in Contract Management?

A contract management masters degree or an online masters degree in acquisition and contract management is an advanced study of contract management. Typically, the master’s program will narrow the focus of contract management and teach advanced concepts of the areas that were only covered broadly in an undergraduate setting.

The contract management masters degree programs will attract students who are already working in the field of contract management, contract administration, or business administration. Courses will go into greater detail about specific types of contracts and the nuances associated with larger contract and procurement procedures.

For example, federal contracts and other types of government contracts will usually require a masters degree to understand and navigate appropriately. A contract for a small business and a contract for a large commercial enterprise have wildly different principles associated with them, and a masters degree program will prepare graduates to deal with such contracts. Another aspect of a master’s degree program is in its broader look at contract management, as in dealing with contracts that incorporate international terms or foreign governments.

Many masters degree programs will require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field, whether it’s contract management, business administration, finance, or another related degree. Those who pursue a masters will also usually need experience in a business field as well. The understanding is that applicants should have some knowledge of how these principles work in the real world before continuing their education. People who want to advance in their business field or do more with their careers should consider pursuing a master’s degree in contract management.

Contract management masters degree programs will contain more hands-on education and applications. These degree types serve to prepare someone for working in government contracting and dealing with the more advanced levels of contract law. This puts graduates in a good place to take on positions that require the specialized knowledge that comes with contract and management combined with industry-specific knowledge.

In this way, graduates can take on greater roles in their chosen career. For example, a bachelors degree in procurement and contract management can help someone take on a large role at a company, but the addition of an online masters degree in procurement and contract management can help that same person take on larger decision-making roles in that same company.

Note that, just like any other degree type, an online masters degree in acquisition and contract management will hold just as much credibility as a degree in procurement and contract management obtained in a more traditional manner. Accreditation matters just as much for a contract management masters degree program as it does for a bachelors degree program. Applicants should look for accredited online masters degree in procurement and contract management programs to ensure they will give their career aspirations the best chance.

Are There Certificates for Contract Management?

Numerous certifications and online contract management certificate programs exist. Certification as a contract manager isn’t always a necessity, but some industries, companies, and public sector employers may require online contract management certification. There are many types of contract management certification online programs, so applicants will have to do some research on their own to figure out which programs will work for their career goals.

Certification can become increasingly important for people who will choose contract management as their profession, as opposed to people who take a concentration in contract management to aid a different business career. One of the reasons for this is the title that comes with professional certification. To an employer, there’s sometimes a huge difference between a contract manager and a certified contract manager. However, this begs the question of which contract management certificate online will allow someone to say they’re a certified contract manager.

Many colleges offer online contract management certifications, so they’re not hard to find. However, applicants should look for an accredited certificate in contract management online or make sure the certification program has the backing of a professional contract management group, such as the National Contract Management Association. Many programs will develop an online contract management certificate program with the NCMA and the NCMA offers a certification program directly.

Because there are several professional organizations beyond the NCMA that also offer certifications, applicants should spend some time looking into which certifications are most accepted in any field or industry. For example, there’s also certification from the World Commerce and Contracting group with an emphasis on contract and commercial management.

Graduates may find that their degree curriculum includes testing for certification in the curriculum. Outside professional certifications, some graduates may find they need to obtain online contract management specific for their chosen industry or employer. Since contract management can apply to practically any industry, some companies will want their contract management employees to understand certain aspects that govern that industry, place of business, or government facility. This can lead to the need for gaining certifications while working or before applicants can work with these employers.

Online contract management certification can also work well for professionals or graduates who work in or have a degree in a field that’s not directly contract management. An example of this is if someone with a business administration degree wanted to take on a greater role in their company, so they choose to pursue a contract management certification online. In this way, they can take on contract management roles or some contract management duties without needing to pursue contract management as a degree to add to the one they already have.

This only really works for people with a degree in a business or financial field that’s related to contract management. As with most certifications, the need to gain a contract management certificate online will depend on the career choices and goals of the student. In most cases, having one or more certifications can only help students, graduates, and job seekers. A certificate can also give someone the extra credentials they need to move up in their chosen career or to edge out the competition. Finally, professional certification can also help people who want to make a career change.

What Are Some Careers in Contract Management?

Despite the name of the degree type, there are still questions people may have concerning contract management. What is a contract manager? What does a contract manager do? What is a contract manager job description supposed to look like? The main thing to remember is that contract management encompasses several functions. Also, contract management itself denotes several processes as contract management is a procedure in and of itself.

When asking what is a contracts manager, it’s possible to come across different answers depending on the industry and employer. For example, a government contract manager job description will not look the same as a commercial contract manager job description.

What Is a Contract Manager? What Does a Contract Manager Do?

A contract manager manages contracts. How they manage the contract process varies widely. This is the short answer to the question of what is a contracts manager and what does a contracts manager do. Nevertheless, that simple answer contains a lot of advanced and sometimes complicated actions.

The job duties of a contract manager can vary, but generally, there are a few things that most contract managers handle regardless of their industry. Some of things include:

  • Writing or analyzing proposals
  • Creating or negotiating prices and conditions
  • Managing a contract from beginning to end
  • Looking for risks, loopholes, and problems in contracts or agreements
  • Maintaining contract records

There are different levels to contract management, as an entry-level contract manager may do more work involving keeping records and checking contract documents for compliance. A more advanced contract manager may find themselves creating the contracts, doing the negotiations necessary to ensure the contracts are beneficial, and generally acting in a leadership role. Experience can make a huge difference when it comes to the types of available jobs and careers available to a contract manager.

A contract manager job description may not include all that a contract manager is trained to do. This applies to both private and government contracts manager jobs. Equally, some types of contract manager careers will have unique requirements. Government contract manager jobs aren’t the same as a commercial contract manager job description.

Equally, a contract manager working for an entertainment company will have wildly different duties and expectations than what’s included in a government contracts manager job description. Even with that said, contract managers still need to have a well-rounded knowledge of not just contract management in general, but of how contract management works in other fields.

Sometimes negotiations can come about between disparate industries and the contract manager must know how to navigate their own industry as well as the industry they are negotiating with.

Some careers a contract management graduate can pursue include:

  • Entrepreneur, self-employment, or business owner
  • Auditor
  • City management and planning
  • Government administration
  • Procurement specialist
  • Contract specialist
  • Purchasing manager
  • Government contract specialist
  • Project management

Because contract management has a lot of overlap with various other types of business management and administration, a contract management degree can also help someone pursue a position or start a career in a related field involving business, finance, and other forms of decision-making.

What are the Salary Expectations for a Contract Manager?

An important decision-making factor for people considering a contract management degree is the question of how much does a contract manager make. Salaries for contract managers will vary depending on the industry, employer, experience, and level of education. Job title will also matter, as acquisition and contract management salary may differ from government contract manager salary.

If someone is working in some other capacity but has contract management duties, their salary will likely look different from those who have a contract management-specific job title. Experience also matters a great deal in contract management. It’s easy to see this in the differences between senior contract manager salary and entry-level contract manager salary.

Location can also play in role in contract management salaries. Some places where contract manager salaries hold steady across the country can include government contracts manager salary and the salaries of larger, national, and international companies that maintain across-the-board salary requirements, rather than just regional ones.

According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for contract managers is ~$95k. The same report shows some senior contract manager salary reports as high as $151k. That same report shows that some employers have a far higher average salary, which would mean senior contracts manager salary will also sit higher.

PayScale shows an average contract manager salary of $82k but also points out that the average can sit slightly higher depending on the skills the contract manager will bring to the table. For example, it lists an average of $86k for contract managers who specialize in contract negotiation.

How much do contract managers make when they’re in one industry or company over another? The differences can vary a great deal, so it’s a good idea for job applicants and career seekers to make sure they don’t limit their searches. This is especially true of government contract manager salary. The government contracts manager salary can vary between different government agencies, so applicants should look out for that as well.

Carrie Morris
Author

Warren Dahl
Editor-in-Chief