Contract Specialist Job Description
Contract specialists are experts in everything and anything to do with contracts between their company and its clients. They negotiate and create contracts providing a beneficial solution for both the company and the client. This is a full-time, entry-level position requiring shrewd negotiation skills and excellent interpersonal skills. While contract specialists are based in an office, they often travel to clients’ locations during contract negotiations. Depending on a company’s organization, a contract specialist may report directly to a contract manager or work independently, reporting to the project manager.
Contract Specialist Duties and Responsibilities
Contract specialists may need to possess different knowledge depending on the industry in which they work, but most contract specialists perform similar duties across the board:
Write and Edit Contracts
Contract specialists’ main responsibility is to write and edit contracts between their company and potential clients. Writing contracts often requires specific terminology and style, both of which contract specialists know and understand in depth.
Evaluate Other Contracts
Contract specialists may not be involved in the creation of every contract created for the company. However, they usually evaluate contracts they didn’t create. When evaluating contracts, contract specialists take special care to understand everything in the contract and report on their findings to upper management.
Negotiate with Clients
Once the contract has been written, the company and the client transition into a negotiation phase. The contract specialist is often responsible for leading the negotiations with the client and may need to travel to the client’s location to perform negotiations.
Research Legislation and Regulations
Contracts are regulated by legislation and regulations, which often differ depending on the industry. Contract specialists research legislation and regulations to ensure their contracts are current and in compliance.
Build Relationships with Vendors and Contractors
Contract specialists build relationships with vendors and contractors who may do the work outlined in the contract. This is important because clients often require contract specialists to list specific vendors and contractors directly in the contract.
Contract Specialist Skills and Qualifications
Contract specialists should enjoy writing and editing contracts, and they should be able to do it well. Most employers require a bachelor’s degree, but the area of study can vary greatly. Successful contract specialist candidates should have two to four years of experience. Employers also look for candidates who have the following skills:
- Understanding of contract language – contract specialists have an intimate knowledge of contract language and contract style guides
- Negotiation skills – contract specialists negotiate both in-person and through written communication with clients; they understand where to stand their ground while keeping both the company and client’s best interests in mind simultaneously
- Writing and editing skills – contract specialists write contracts clearly and concisely, editing for clarity, as needed.
- Relationship management – managing relationships with upper management, clients, and vendors is an essential skill, as well as managing conflict between these parties Interpersonal communication skills – contract specialists work directly with a variety of people negotiating complex contracts, which requires excellent interpersonal communication skills, both written and verbal
Tools of the Trade
Successful contract specialist candidates should be familiar with the following tools:
- Word processing tools (Word, Pages, Google Docs)
- Contract management software (Agiloft, Updraft, Concord)
- Microsoft Office Suite (especially Excel and PowerPoint)
- Project management software (Asana, Basecamp)
Marketing Engineer Education and Training
Contract specialists have a bachelor’s degree. Employers like to see candidates with degrees in business administration or law. Depending on the industry, employers might like to see candidates with advanced degrees. Certifications specific to contract writing are especially helpful, and many employers prefer candidates who have the Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting (FAC-C).
Contract Specialist Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for contract specialists is $64,850. Experienced contract specialists in the top ten percent may earn up to $119,820 per year, while entry-level contract specialists in the 10th percentile only earn around $36,770 per year. According to the BLS, this position is expected to experience a decline in availability through 2026, mostly due to automation in procurement and the combination of jobs to create better efficiency.
Contract specialists are typically offered standard benefits packages that include health, vision, and dental insurance, with average vacation and sick time benefits. Contract specialists may also receive other benefits, depending on their employer.
If you’re interested in pursuing the path of a contract specialist, read through this list of resources to get a good start:
National Contract Management Association – The NCMA is a professional organization for contract specialists and managers. Its website includes helpful resources, including event lists, certification training, and job listings. This is a good place to start for both new and experienced contract specialists.
Contract Specialist-Government LinkedIn Group – This LinkedIn group gathers 5,000 contract specialists who work specifically in the public sector. Members network and speak to each other about resources they can tap to find jobs and increase their skills. Members are friendly and active.
Working with Contracts: What Law School Doesn’t Teach You – This book focuses on teaching practical lessons about contract management that can help you meet client and employer goals to make everyone happy with the contract you write. It uses a combination of legal, business, and technical knowledge to help you fully grasp the intricacies of creating a solid contract.
Contract Law for Dummies – If you don’t have a full law degree, this book can help you understand the specific legal requirements that often go into creating and managing a contract. The For Dummies series helps explain topics in practical, clear ways that are highly rated.
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