Contract Manager Vs. Project Manager (With Definitions)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Envisioning and completing a project to success is a critical aspect of a business. Proper execution and timely completion of projects involve professionals in various roles, two of the most notable being contract managers and project managers. If you have an interest in pursuing any of these positions, you might benefit from knowing the differences between them. In this article, we discuss what a project manager and contract manager is, understand the difference between contract manager vs. project manager and explore the difference in their salaries, work environment and education.

Contract manager vs. project manager

It is essential to understand the difference between contract manager vs. project manager to know which career to pursue. They differ from each other in the following ways:

What is a contract manager?

A contract manager handles the management and administration of contracts. Using their skills, these professionals develop, research, revise, negotiate and execute contracts for a company. These contracts can involve purchasing or selling assets, materials and supplies. They even manage contracts related to software development. Once both parties sign the contract, these professionals monitor the approved terms, including deadlines, key milestones and deliverables. Usually, these professionals manage the rental, employment, sales and new business contracts. Some common job responsibilities of these professionals are:

  • drafting contracts that are favourable for both the parties

  • negotiating terms with suppliers and vendors and maintaining a healthy relationship with them

  • collecting legal forms necessary for signing the contract

  • advising the company on legal contract matters

  • ensuring the contract complies with local regulations

  • handling contract violation related issues

  • participating in meetings to track the project's progress and ensure the budget remains under control

  • ensuring a project meets technical specifications and standards

  • overseeing and directing contracts throughout their lifecycle

  • ensuring timely project delivery, accurate invoicing and compliance to contract terms

Related: What Is A Contracts Manager? Definition And Career Advice

What is a project manager?

A project manager plans and manages the execution of a project from initiation to completion. They ensure project deliverables meet the expectations of the stakeholders and clients. They are accountable for a project's scope, budget, resources and how the project performs. To ensure the project meets its goals, a manager oversees every phase. Though these professionals do not complete the hands-on tasks involved in a project, they require knowledge about various aspects of a project. Some common job responsibilities of these professionals are:

  • helping define the scope, goals and deliverables of a project

  • identifying potential obstacles and risks

  • creating plans to solve issues and manage project challenges

  • meeting with team members to identify and resolve issues

  • facilitating change requests to ensure the project meets its desirable goals

  • allocating resources while ensuring that the project stays within the budget and meets project deadlines

  • managing monetary aspects of a project, including budget creation

  • submitting the completed project to clients and stakeholders

  • conducting a post-project evaluation to decide the scope of improvement

Related: How Much Does A Project Manager Make? (Including Steps)

Differences between the roles

While a contract manager and a project manager share similar responsibilities, there are many differences between these professions. Here are some differences between them:


When hiring a contract and project manager, an employer looks for candidates with at least a bachelor's degree. Contract managers often complete a degree in contracts management, business law, finance, legal studies, human resources and economics. Many professionals earn a degree in law because it helps them manage complex contracts and negotiations.

In comparison, employers prefer project managers with a graduation in any subject from a recognised university. A master's degree in business administration and management can enhance project management skills. Often, project managers complete specialised courses related to the area in which they work, such as information technology or IT. While not mandatory, many professionals complete a master's degree in project management to advance their careers and get hired as a senior project manager.

Related: What Is A Project Manager? (Duties And Qualification)


While both professions benefit from completing a certification, the courses differ. To fast track their career growth and broaden their knowledge, a contract manager can complete a certification from International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM). You can even pursue certification to help you find a high-paying job. A project manager can complete common certifications, including Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certifications.

Related: How To List Certifications On A Resume (With Examples)

Work environment

Both contract and project managers work in an office environment. Contract managers might travel to negotiate contractual terms with vendors and clients. A project manager visits a client's location to understand the project requirement. For instance, a construction project manager visits the construction site regularly to evaluate progress. Usually, a contract manager works additional hours when negotiating a contract, while a project manager might work overtime to meet the project's deadlines.

A contract manager works with the business operations, finance and legal team, whereas a project manager works with cross-functional teams throughout the project. They work with team members, the sales head, manufacturing and packaging department to ensure they meet the project's goals.


While some project and contract manager skill sets might overlap, they require a wide range of skills. Here are some essential skills for a contract manager:

  • Negotiation: A part of the job role of contract managers involves overseeing new contracts, they require excellent negotiation skills to negotiate contract terms and deadlines. Using their strong negotiation skills, these professionals find common agreement areas benefiting both parties.

  • Attention to detail: A contract manager reviews contracts for their accuracy, so they require excellent attention to detail. They use this skill set while drafting, editing and analysing contracts.

  • Knowledge of compliance management: Having an in-depth understanding of compliance management is essential for ensuring all the parties follow the terms and conditions.

  • Technical business knowledge: Employers prefer managers who are experts in handling contract terms and conditions and knowledgeable about processes related to their industry. This skill set helps a contract manager prepare contracts.

  • Organisation skills: A contract manager executes and monitors a contract and they require excellent organisational skills to implement changes to an agreement and renew contracts. Being organised ensures these professionals do not miss out on contract renewal deadlines.

Here are some essential skills for a project manager:

  • Problem-solving skills: Employers expect a project manager to solve various problems throughout the project's lifecycle. Being able to resolve problems quickly without losing calmness is essential for meeting the project's goals.

  • Delegation skills: The ability to assign and oversee a task is essential for successfully managing a project. Using their designation skills, these professionals delegate tasks based on the team members' skills and proficiency.

  • Team-building skills: Being a good team builder helps these professionals create a team that completes a project on time and within budget. Leading the team and keeping them motivated and enthusiastic can make these professionals better project managers.

  • Communication skills: A project manager use their communication skills to share priorities with the team and provide updates to key stakeholders on the team's and project's progress. Excellent communication skills allow these professionals to provide constructive feedback to your team.

  • Adaptability: A client requirement and budget might change during the project, resulting in significant challenges to the entire project team. Having the ability to cope with different situations and manage stress without getting overwhelmed can help maintain a team's morale.

Related: 10 Skills You Need For Team Building (And How To Develop Them)


The national average salary of a contract manager is ₹5,19,111 per year, while the national average salary of a project manager is ₹32,723 per month. These professionals earn a handsome salary that depends on their location, employer, experience and industry. These professionals can earn a higher salary as they progress in their careers or pursue higher education and certification.

For instance, the average salary of a contract manager in Bengaluru is ₹56,567 per month, while the average salary in Noida is ₹38,248 per month. In comparison, the average salary of a contract manager in Pune is ₹8,83,309 per year, while the average salary in Chennai is ₹1,89,507 per year. These managers might also qualify for benefits aside from their salaries, including house rent allowance, paid time off, medical insurance and leave travel concession.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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