What is a Contract Specialist?
Contract specialists are primarily involved with all things concerning contracts executed between a company and their respective clients. These specialists write, form, and negotiate various types of contracts with the aim of establishing or resolving an issue that benefits the company as well as the client.
The roles of a contract specialist are many and varied. In manufacturing, he/she examine the agreements between suppliers and possible contractors. They perform negotiations and make sure the contractors adhere to all applicable rules and regulations throughout the contract period. If there are contract violations, the specialist may become involved in the termination of the contract.
In the performance of these outlined duties, the contract specialist must have negotiation and communication skills. They need to have the expertise to write and speak effectively and convincingly. They are responsible for expressing the intent and purpose of the contracts. How the document reads is paramount in its creation.
These communication skills extend beyond writing. Interpersonal skills are necessary to develop a rapport and resolve potential conflicts with clients.
Therefore, the job requires someone who is comfortable dealing with people, which at times may be in an adversarial position. Individuals uncomfortable with the occasional confrontation may want to consider another career. Not all of the duties of the profession involve working in isolation analyzing contracts. However, negotiating contracts is only one phase of the business. Mastery of communication is as important as analytical, problem-solving, organizational, and decision-making qualities.
There is no degree in contracts. You can gain an understanding of contracts in business administration, legal studies, and law programs. The education path varies according to the business sector in which you work. For example, a contract specialist in the oil industry may stipulate the minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Other employers may require a law degree or LL.M. The latter is a Master of Laws degree, which you may complete within one year of full-time study. This graduate degree is an alternative to attending law school, which is a three-year commitment.
One option is a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Within the curricula of these programs, you will find courses that cover contract law. For example, a business program may have a course dealing with the legal and ethical issues in the business world. The course material might cover the legal system, law of torts, liability, intellectual property, contract law, and other law-related classes.
A degree in business administration addresses an array of subjects. These include economics, finance, accounting, marketing, management, human resources, statistics, and more. However, a review of online employment sites for contract specialist positions, many prefer a Bachelor or Master of Business Administration.
The coursework in this degree mirrors more of the stated job requirements for contract specialists. A bachelor’s in legal studies should have courses to boost your soft skills. To benefit your future career in this field, look for classes in Public Speaking, Group Communications, Critical Thinking, and Legal Writing.
Programs in legal studies typically have more courses devoted to the subjects that you can apply to the profession. For examples, courses that study contracts, legal research, intellectual law, legal analysis, and other concentrations in law. Therefore, you should review each program to ensure that the coursework covers classes about subjects associated with the law.
An example of a course in contract law is from Herzing University’s Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies. You will learn how laws affect contracts, resolution techniques, how to enforce contracts, and how to assess improper and illegal ones.
A diverse sector of companies employs contract specialists. These involve industries in energy, science, government agencies, healthcare, and law enforcement. The Department of Homeland Security, NASA, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, and Department of the Army are a short list of the government entities that employ contract specialists.
A valuable source of information is the National Contract Management Association (NCMA). Since 1959, the organization has grown to 20,000 members worldwide. It is a source of information and education for contract management professionals. Instruction is available through seminars that are held nationally for members and non-members of the NCMA.