Common contracts include employment letters, purchase orders, sales invoices and utility contracts. Complex contracts are made for construction projects, highly regulated goods and services, goods and services that have detailed technical specifications, international trade and intellectual property rights.
As a contract administrator you need to be systematic and efficient in the creation, execution and analysis of contracts in order to maximize operational and financial performance and minimize risk. For a majority of businesses the primary reason for improvements in contract administration is to be able to better mitigate and asses risk and the management of contract life cycles necessary to lessen exposure to legal and financial risk. Areas of responsibility for contract administrator careers are:
1) Authorizing and negotiation of contracts
2) Baseline management
3) Commitment management
4) Communication management
5) Document management
6) Change and issue management
7) Contract awareness and visibility
8) Growth in sales contracts
9) Savings in procurement contracts
10) Compliance to service agreements
11) Compliance to transactions.
Contract administrators do most of their work in offices but visits to clients and partners are common although new mobile technology and teleconferencing have reduced the need for meetings only when they are most needed. Most contracts administrator jobs have a standard 40 hr. week but when there are problems that need to be solved or deadlines that need to be met then workers could need to work longer hours which are frequently uncompensated and they must always be prepared as they can be called to solve problems anytime.
Contracts administrator jobs are complex and high risk requiring professionals who have extensive knowledge to ensure successful results. To qualify you must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in business administration or related field. Having several years of experience in a similar occupation can help. You must have technical understanding of contract laws, how to propose contracts, source contracts, negotiate and procure contracts, and risk assessment. Additional requirements can include good written and verbal communications skills, attention to detail, knowledge in computer operation, office programs, and business management software. You must also be familiar with document management, general accounting, business writing, and relationship building. In the U.S. there is the National Contract Management Association (NCMA), a professional society for individuals dealing with procurement and contract management, which offers 3 certifications: 1) Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) – which validates knowledge of contract management in the federal government; 2) Certified Commercial Contracts Manager (CCCM) – validates knowledge of contract management in commercial environments; and 3) Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM) – an advanced certificate which validates knowledge of contract management in both commercial and federal environments. These certifications are valuable to employers as they provide unbiased assessment of a person’s abilities. Companies are more likely to hire or promote a person with certification because it demonstrates their skill and commitment.
Outlook for contracts administrator employments is very good and expected to grow by 12 percent in the period 2008 to 2018, however, companies continue to downsize and streamline their organizational structures which could reduce the need for some positions. Applicants will likely see a lot of competition for the limited number of the higher level jobs but less in the lower levels and job prospects are going to be better for applicants who are capable of taking on a wider range of responsibilities, than those who focus on specific functions. Job offerings could vary from year to year as the strength of the economy greatly affects the demand for these types of positions. Industries less affected by fluctuations in the economy are the best choices for stable employment. The median annual wage for contracts administrator jobs was $73,520 for 2008 and is generally higher if you are hired by government agencies.
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