Sign up to our Newsletter

How to Become a Contract Administrator

December 4, 2023
5 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 12/4/23

If you’re exploring your legal or business career options, read on to learn more about how to become a contract administrator. 

Business and law often intersect, which is why joint degrees such as JD/MBAs exist! However, not all business and law enthusiasts want to go through the rigorous process of applying to law school, paying thousands for tuition, and passing several exams to gain licensure!

Fortunately, there are multiple interdisciplinary careers that people in this predicament can pursue. One such career is contract administration!

If this is your first time hearing about this career, or you aren’t quite sure what it involves, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to become a contract administrator and what the job entails!

What Does a Contract Administrator Do?

Put simply, contract administrators ensure all negotiations and agreements between businesses and third parties are fair, follow guidelines, and are upheld. They’re involved in the entire process of creating these contracts: drafting, revising, negotiating, examining, and finalizing.

These contracts typically deal with the sale or purchase of goods or services. But, because no contract is the same, the exact duties these professionals perform depend on the project they’re working on and the businesses involved. Nonetheless, here is their general scope of practice:

  • Overseeing the construction and revision of contracts
  • Analyzing and reducing risk
  • Ensuring all parties comply with the necessary regulations and government requirements
  • Keeping track of payment deadlines
  • Providing summaries of contracts
  • Negotiating conditions of contracts
  • Tracking and keeping record of relevant correspondence
  • Coordinating meetings with parties involved
  • Reporting changes to contract and assessing performance of contract
  • Collaborating with other departments to create a strategy for contract management
  • Coordinating with legal teams
  • Providing conflict resolution
  • Acting as a liaison for both parties
  • Discuss factors affecting price to understand terms

The most difficult part of being a contract administrator is creating custom clauses for the businesses you work for and keeping up with service regulations that constantly change!

Two women signing contracts

Steps to Become a Contract Administrator

If after learning more about what a contract administrator does, you’re intrigued to know more, here are the exact steps you’ll need to take to join this profession:

Step One: Complete a Bachelor’s Degree

The minimum educational requirement to become a contract administrator is a bachelor’s degree. While there isn’t one specific degree you’ll need, it’s generally recommended you pursue an undergrad in business, economics, administration, accounting, or human resources.

Despite this career involving some legal aspects, you should not pursue a law-related major such as political science. To be a successful contract administrator, you must be more proficient in business proceedings than legal ones!

Step Two: Consider Completing a Master’s Degree

While it’s not required to join the field, aspiring contract administrators are highly encouraged to pursue master’s degrees in business administration or related fields. These types of degrees can offer you more advanced training and expertise, which can boost your resume and make you a more attractive candidate.

You can also expect higher pay with a master's degree and to be more qualified to work for larger companies. These degrees typically take one to two years to complete.

Step Three: Gain Field Experience

Most contract administrator positions will ask that you have at least a couple of years of experience in the field. After you’ve received your degree(s), consider gaining entry-level administrative experience at a company, so you can begin learning more about business practices and policies.

Consider the businesses you’ll want to eventually work for and gain experience with similar ones. 

For instance, if you’re into tech companies and hope to one day draft contracts for companies like Apple or Microsoft, you could try to intern at these companies or work for smaller tech companies that can provide you with valuable transferable experience and skills.

Step Four: Consider Certification

You’ll learn the most about contract administration on the job and through your education. However, to enhance your knowledge on the subject and increase your qualifications, there are several certifications you can pursue.

The National Contract Management Association (NCMA) offers four certifications to help contract administrators stand out to employers: 

  • Certified Contract Management Associate: an entry-level certification to assure new professionals have the necessary knowledge to join the field
  • Certified Professional Contract Manager: for professionals with five or more years of experience in the contract management or related field
  • Certified Federal Contract Manager: for those interested in working in the federal environment in particular; you will need at least two years of experience in contract management to be eligible for this certification
  • Certified Commercial Contract Manager: relates to the training and knowledge of the Uniform Commercial Code, rules that govern commercial transactions; requires at least two years of work experience in contract management

All of these certifications require you to hold a bachelor’s degree and complete a certain amount of continuing education credits. You will have to write live or protected exams to gain these certifications and may have to complete continuing education courses for recertification. 

Men signing contracts on table

Contract Administrator Skills

Effective contract administrators need to be more than just highly knowledgeable negotiators. They should also possess the following skills:

  • Attention to detail: to ensure they create accurate contracts that do not violate any regulations or cause company setbacks
  • Organization: to fulfill various competing deadlines and keep record of all relevant documentation
  • Critical thinking: to be able to examine each clause and predict all of the ways it could affect the clients
  • Collaboration: to work with varying levels of team members to create the most mutually favorable contract
  • Problem-solving skills: to quickly revise or adjust contracts if they have poor results or potential risk

Contract administrators should essentially be able to predict the future—they must draft and prepare negotiations that will continue to uphold the necessary standards and ensure the company meets its long-term goals! 

These professionals are also encouraged to have some skills or experience in accounting, as they have to keep track of payments and ensure budgets are considered in all negotiations.

Contract Administrator Salary

Contract administration is a fast-growing field that is required by almost every business. In fact, the demand for this job is expected to increase by around 7% in the next decade. 

While the average contract administrator salary is around $99,290 a year, your earning potential will largely depend on the business you work for, your education, and level of experience. Overall though, these professionals tend to make the most in New York and California.

Two men shaking hands above contract

FAQs: How to Become a Contract Administrator

If you have any remaining questions about how to become a contract administrator, you can find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about this profession below. 

1. Is Contract Administration a Good Career?

Yes, construct administration is a fast-growing and high-paying field! With thousands of job openings each year, aspiring contract administrators can expect to have a range of opportunities when they’re ready to enter the field! 

While the job can be stressful, and you may be expected to work long hours, it typically only takes a couple of years to master, and plays an essential role in the success of businesses!

2. How Long Does It Take to Become a Contract Administrator?

Your timeline will depend on the education and experience you pursue. The minimum requirement to join this field is a four-year bachelor's in a business-related field, and at least a couple of years of experience in administration. However, you’re encouraged to also pursue a master’s degree, which will take an additional year or two to complete.

3. What Is the Career Growth for a Contract Administrator?

Once you gain some entry-level experience in contract administration, you will qualify for the majority of senior positions as a contract administrator. A common path that professionals in this field take is moving their way up a company! As such, there is tremendous room for growth within this career.

4. Are Contract Administrators Paid Well?

Yes, the majority of contract administrators make almost $100,000 a year!

5. Do Contract Administrators Have to Go to Law School?

No, while some contract administration positions could ask you to have some legal experience, you will not need to obtain a JD to join this profession. Your education should be business-related. 

6. Are Contract Administrators Accountants?

While possessing some training or expertise in accounting or majoring in the subject can be beneficial for contract administrators, they are not accountants. 

Final Thoughts

Pursuing a career in contract administration will require diligence, years of education and experience, and great networking skills. However, if you’re willing to put in the work to join this field, you’ll be rewarded with a lucrative career with a high degree of flexibility and a high salary to match!

Schedule A Free Consultation

Plan Smart. Execute Strong. Get Into Your Dream School.

You May Also Like