Though it might sound like a boring job, when you have an eye for detail and excellent oral and written communication skills, contract management might just be your thing. Contract managers oversee legal documents that involve the purchasing of goods or services from vendors, businesses or individuals, or the offering of goods and services to clients. As a contract manager, you evaluate performance in light of contract requirements and provide upper management with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the vendor.
As a contract manager, you will need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college in business or a field relevant to the organization to which you apply, such as health administration or economics. Some entities promote contract managers from within, but this path can take several years of experience.
Some employers require certification as a contract manager specialist. The National Contract Management Association is one organization that provides certification to its members for a fee. Examinations for certification are based on the overall contract management body of knowledge for the professional certification, federal acquisition regulations for the federal certification and the uniform commercial code for the commercial certification.
Companies, government agencies and organizations prefer to hire people as contract managers who have relevant experience, such as in contract research, marketing or sales. As a contract manager, you will have excellent language skills, both oral and written, and be able to communicate with anyone at any level.
Systems and Software
To get a job as a contract manager, you must have a broad background and understanding of computer software, statistical analysis and procurement systems used by companies, government agencies or organizations. An employer might also require specific experience with a particular software or system.
To be successful as a contract manager, you need negotiation skills. When a company purchases raw materials for products in bulk, you have an opportunity to reduce costs through skillful negotiations. Along with negotiation skills, as a contract manager you'll also have excellent mediation and persuasion skills.
Because contracts are written in "legalese," you need to understand their legal terminology. You will be checking the contract before it is signed, so you will need to vet it for the correct components. As the contract manager, you must ensure that the contract contains the sections and remedies to protect the business interests of the entity you represent. You also must double-check the dates, prices and other statistical data before it is signed by the company's executives or management.
Some entities require the contract manager to evaluate contract performance. If, for instance, the contract was with a business vendor, you need to compare the contract with the delivered goods or services. This often requires complex computer and statistical analysis related to delivery and performance. If milestone payments were used in the contract, the contract manager might evaluate the milestone payment against the work or services performed for payment approvals.
As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.