What Is a Contract Specialist?

A contract specialist creates, examines and monitors contractual agreements between the organization that he or she works for and materials or labor suppliers. Read on to find out more about the duties, educational requirements and employment outlook for contract specialists. Schools offering Procurement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Duties and Responsibilities of Contract Specialists

Contract specialists are often called purchasing directors, agents or managers, though the term contract specialist also refers to positions available at government agencies and manufacturing firms. In this position, you'll be expected to act as a shrewd negotiator and work to achieve the best possible deal for your organization. You also might supervise contractors' performances to ensure that the stipulations of the contract are being met.

As a contract specialist, it's important to be aware of legislative and regulatory issues that may be related to the contracts you're overseeing. You might have to make contractual revisions as laws and regulations are established, changed or otherwise modified. Another important element of your job involves building relationships with trusted vendors and keeping a detailed list of possible contractors needed for any given situation.

Important Facts About Contract Specialists

Work Environment Full-time, often in an office for a government agency
Key Skills Buying good and services for business operations, evaluate suppliers, ensure contract compliance
Training Defense Acquisition University training courses (for U.S. Department of Defense Contracts Specialists)
Similar Occupations Financial managers, bookkeepers, logisticians, auditing clerks

Educational Requirements

A bachelor's degree is the typical education needed for employment as an entry-level contract specialist, and many fields of study are considered acceptable. However, you're sometimes not required to have earned a bachelor's degree as long as you've taken at least 24 credit hours in areas like business, economics, law and contracts. Higher professional employment positions are available through graduate education and prior work experience.

Voluntary certification also is available through agencies like the Federal Acquisition Institute. To earn Federal Acquisition Certification-Contracting (FAC-C), you'll need to meet education, training and experience requirements.

Employment and Salary Statistics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, purchasing agents made a mean yearly wage of $60,980, while purchasing managers earned $106,090 annually as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). Growth in these jobs was anticipated to be below average in the 2012-2022 decade, with only a 4% increase in new positions, slower than the average for all occupations.

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