Although a less common career choice, contract administrators have critically important jobs in the business world.

Contracts are an integral part of doing business nowadays, and companies rely on contract administrators to negotiate these legal agreements and ensure all terms are met. With some corporations having dozens of contracts with the government, suppliers and customers, this can be a dynamic career that may be ideal for those who are detail-oriented and strong negotiators.

If you're interested in learning how to become a contract administrator, here's a brief overview of the occupation, education requirements, and potential employment-related data.

What Does a Contract Administrator Do?

Also known as contract managers, these professionals can have diverse responsibilities. Contract administrators may do some or all of the following:

  • Determine which contracts are needed within a business or organization
  • Develop template language for contracts in conjunction with a legal team
  • Negotiate specific contract details with the government, vendors or clients
  • Monitor the progress of projects to ensure contractual requirements are met
  • Report to management or executives on the status of contracts

How Long Does it Take to Become a Contract Administrator?

Some positions may be available to those with a four-year bachelor's degree. However, employers may prefer to hire workers with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or other advanced degree, which typically requires an additional two years of full-time study.

How to Become a Contract Administrator

Contract administrator careers may be pursued by people with a variety of backgrounds. However, here's a common career path.

1. Earn a bachelor's degree:

As the entry-level education in this field, many schools have specialized Bachelor of Business Administration degree programs in contract administration or management.

2. Pursue a master's degree:

For some jobs for contract administrators, education requirements include a master's degree in business administration, accounting or mathematics.

3. Gain workplace experience:

Those who only have a bachelor's degree may need three or more years of work experience to be considered for contract administrator jobs, particularly those handling high-dollar, high-risk contracts.

4. Obtain professional certification:

In order to advance their careers, contract administrators may turn to the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) or International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM) for professional certifications. NCMA certifications include the following:

  • Certified Professional Contracts Manager — The CPCM is the most advanced certification within the contract management industry.
  • Certified Federal Contracts Manager — The CFCM certification demonstrates senior understanding of and experience with Federal Acquisition Regulation.
  • Certified Commercial Contracts Manager — The CCCM certification demonstrates fundamental knowledge and experience with the Uniform Commercial Code.

Professionals must meet work and education requirements to be eligible to take certification exams. Once certified, contract administrators must take continuing education classes in order to recertify every five years.

Essential Skills and Qualities for Contract Administrators

Those who are successful in contract administrator careers often have the following skills and abilities:

  • Analytical thinking: Many businesses rely on contract administrators to review company needs to determine which contracts are needed.
  • Negotiation: Contract administrators may work alone or as part of a team to draw up agreements with terms that are favorable for their employer.
  • Judgement and decision making: While drawing up contracts, administrators must make wise decisions about their provisions.
  • Problem sensitivity: Good contract administrators are able to anticipate when problems may occur with either the negotiation or implementation of a contract and can take action to proactively address those issues.
  • Oral expression: When discussing the terms of contracts, administrators must be able to use clear and precise language to ensure there is no confusion.

Contract Administrator Salary and Job Outlook

While incomes can vary depending on someone's education and experience, the following data is for occupations that can reflect contract administrator job growth projections, salaries, and employment numbers.

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers220,750$71,720
Purchasing Managers72,100$128,400
2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Article Sources
  • A Day in the Life of a Contract Administrator, Jessica Alden, July 16, 2019, Corridor Company, Accessed May 2020,
  • Contract Administrator Job Description, Glassdoor, Accessed May 2020,
  • How to Become a Contract Administrator, October 22, 2019, Villanova University, Accessed May 2020,
  • Career Path, National Contract Management Association, Accessed May 2020,