Contract Administrator Jobs & Career Guide

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Contract Administration CareersWhat is A Contract Administrator?

People in contract administration jobs are a critical part of the ongoing interactions that drive the marketplace and keep the business world functioning.  Contracts help to promote and enforce fair dealing among businesses, appropriate use of funds from taxpayers or shareholders, and the safety and respectful treatment of employees, customers, and the public at large.  Contract administration jobs can provide motivated and detail-oriented individuals with satisfying and rewarding careers in a variety of different fields.

What is a Contract Administration Responsible For?

Jobs in contract administration provide opportunities for an individual to fulfill a number of different roles within an organization.  The full range of contract administration jobs includes any position responsible for managing, monitoring, or negotiating services, product deliveries, or purchases involving agreements signed by both parties.   These positions may have a variety of responsibilities, depending on the type and purpose of the contract and their role in the management of it.  The following examples are representative of the tasks that may be assigned a person in a contract administration job.

People in contract administration jobs are often central to the process of negotiating the contracts that they will be managing.  Individuals in contract administration careers can leverage negotiating experience, knowledge of their business, and familiarity with legal factors to ensure that the contract provides the greatest possible benefit to their company, while also spelling out any points of contention and protecting the organization from undue liability or damage.

Once the contract is agreed upon, the business may be obligated to deliver a product or service at a certain time, within a certain budget, and in compliance with preset conditions.  A contract administration job may include planning responsibilities, to make sure that sufficient time and resources are dedicated to the task in order to fulfill the conditions of the contract.  Careful planning for contract compliance prevents damage to the reputation of the business, and protects against legal penalties that might result from lack of contract fulfillment.

When a contract has been initiated, a company subject to that contract must exercise careful control over changes to the contract.  Individuals in contract administration jobs are often tasked with change management roles, making sure that proper procedures are followed and that all involved parties sign off on any alterations before they go into effect.  Proper change management prevents the scope of contracts from increasing unrealistically, and keeps expectations of the participants aligned with the agreed-upon end product of the contract.

Some contracts are set up to provide a business with additional personnel for a project or for an agreed period of time.  When a company outsources a task or hires another company to take care of a certain aspect of production, the contract administrator may be responsible for management and supervision of contracted businesses and workers.  In such a case, the contract administrator verifies that the work being done is up to the standards of the client company, and is there to ensure that the service provider is in compliance with the requirements of the contract.

Where Does A Contract Administrator Work?

People in contract administration jobs are most often found in office environments.  Contracts play a central role in the interaction of businesses with customers, employees, other business, and governmental institutions, making advisory and supervisory roles an important aspect of contract administration jobs.  A contract administrator in an office environment may manage contract records, initiate and answer correspondence with contractual partners, handle purchasing and contract modification, and provide advice and guidance to other employees in matters affected by contractual agreements.

Contract administrators are generally attached to the purchasing, accounting, or legal departments within a business.  Contract administration positions with large corporations or government agencies may also involve remote communication or travel in order to coordinate contract resources or contract-related activities among widely scattered branches, offices, or divisions.

Jobs in contract administration may also be located on remote work sites.  Whether the business provides services at client locations, or contracts for services from another company at an external production or construction sites, contract administrators are needed to ensure that quality standards specified in the contract are being met.  Contract administrators may also be responsible for monitoring safety regulation compliance, distributing work instructions and organizing personnel, or acting as a point of contact for the home office.  In cases where contract work takes place away from the company headquarters, the job may call for the individual to be the on-site representative of the company in order to guarantee a successful outcome.

Contract administration jobs are also found in academic environments such as colleges and universities.  Grant-supported research is an important source of funding for educational institutions, and contract administrators are needed to monitor the restrictions on the use of funds, to keep track of copyright and disclosure issues, and to manage the processes of initiation and renewal.  Contract administration careers in educational institutions offer the chance to play a crucial and rewarding role in the pursuits of science and scholarship, ensuring that funding is provided when needed and used properly by those to whom it is entrusted.

What Degree is Required to Become A Contract Administrator?

Contract administrators may come from a variety of professional backgrounds, but can always benefit from an educational background in the fields of business, accounting , and law.  Business degrees from four-year accredited colleges and universities can provide a comprehensive introduction to standard business practices, including the basic principles of contract management.  Many business degree programs may also offer specializations in accounting or business law that may be beneficial to individuals seeking contract administration careers.

In addition, some academic institutions offer courses of study specifically to prepare students for contract administration jobs, which focus on the basics of contract law, budgeting, supervision, and other key aspects of managing formal agreements between businesses, individuals, or agencies.  Nearly any academic business degree program will be extremely helpful when applying for contract administration jobs.

A business degree from a four-year accredited institution indicates to the employer that the applicant has been trained in business practices based on accepted industry standards.  Such a degree also demonstrates that the applicant possesses collegiate-level communication skills, as well as the ability to complete work-intensive projects and achieve long-term goals.

For prospective contract administrators looking for training outside of four-year institutions, there are many two-year colleges and vocational schools that offer courses and programs in contract administration and related fields.  Paralegal training programs offered by vocational institutions can provide individuals with the legal background needed to get started in contract administration careers.  Training courses offered for financial accounting or administrative assistant training can also be helpful in qualifying for an entry-level contract administration job.  In addition, some vocational schools also offer courses of study aimed specifically at preparation for contract administration jobs.  These courses provide exposure to the various elements of contract administration, such as contract law, purchasing and negotiating procedures, project planning, and administrative record-keeping, that will be necessary to individuals wishing to obtain jobs in contract administration.

Contract Administrator Career Path

Many contract administration jobs begin with an administrative employee being transferred or promoted into a position that involves management of contract resources, or contract-driven projects or processes.  In these cases, the individuals are often trained on the job or provided with formal training by the business, in order to augment their skill set to meet their new responsibilities.  Other individuals moving into contract administration jobs pursue courses with certificate programs or educational institutions, in order to increase their effectiveness and improve their prospects for career advancement.  Still other contract administrators graduate from colleges with degrees in law or business, and seek jobs in contract administration where they can augment their academic preparation with experience in the workplace.

Once an individual is employed in a contract administration job, advancement is generally determined by experience and seniority.  The variety of types of contracts, and the legal and industrial contexts in which they occur, means that the details of a job of contract administration can be very different from one working environment to the next.  Entry-level employees often start out as assistant contract administrators, managing limited aspects of existing contracts in order to help contract administration managers and learn the details of contract processes for the business.

As the employee gains experience and familiarity with the relevant guidelines, laws, and priorities, the responsibilities of the position may increase to include contract negotiation, purchasing, supervision of employees, compiling reports, and other contract-related duties.  People who have five or more years of experience in contract administration jobs may become contract administration managers, directing teams of contract administrators and other professionals in order to coordinate and optimize contract-related aspects of the business.

Contract Administrator Job Requirements

Unlike professions such as medicine, psychiatry, or plumbing, contract administration jobs do not require employees to be licensed.  While licenses are required in order to do business as a contractor in certain industries such as construction, the only limitations on contract administration jobs in most cases are the entry requirements set by employers and the skills needed to properly manage contracts.  However, the variety of types of contract in different businesses means that licensing regulations for certain industries may apply to contract administrators.  Individuals wishing to start contract administration careers should talk to prospective employers to determine if licensing is needed.  In cases where licensing is required for contract administration jobs, employers will often facilitate the licensing process in order to maintain compliance with licensing regulations.

While licensing is not necessary for contract administration careers, certifications from public and private testing and certifying organizations can be both a good source of training and professional development, and an asset to career development as well.  The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification program, offered by the Project Management Institute, tests and certifies the ability to manage projects within the restrictions of time, money, and resources.  This program can be beneficial to individuals in contract administration jobs or seeking jobs in contract administration, as it communicates to employers that the certified individual has met or exceeded recognized standards of performance in the management of business processes.  Another testing organization, the American Certification Institute offers the Certified International Commercial Contracts Manager certification (CICCM), which tests for skills needed to negotiate and manage contracts in the arena of international business.  Both programs are examples of certifications that may be helpful to contract administration careers.

In addition to general contract administration certifications, numerous programs exist to offer training and certification in specific business domains where a thorough knowledge of the specifics of the industry is essential to appropriate management of contracts.   The Mid-America Council of Public Purchasing offers certifications focused on the skills and knowledge needed for contract administration jobs in the public sector, for handling procurement and resources for governmental agencies.  For individuals interested in contract administration jobs in construction, the Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA) Program can be beneficial in demonstrating to employers an understanding of particular issues and concerns that affect contract operations in that industry.  These and many other domain-specific contract administration certifications can provide excellent opportunities for professional development, both for people looking for jobs in contract administration and for those seeking to improve their careers.

How Much Money Does a Contract Administrator Earn?

Contract Administrators earn an average of $66,000 per year. This salary varies widely based on location, degree, experience and position. Recent figures indicate Federal Contract Administrators earn approximately $88,000 and Company Contract Administrators earn around $77,000 annually. Manufacturing Contract Administrators earn on average $67,000. Wholesale Contract Administrators can earn over $59,000 and Retail Trade Contract Administrators more than $50,000.

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