What Is a Contracts Manager? Definition and Career Advice

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 14 March 2023

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.

Companies that frequently sign contracts with other firms or service providers often seek professional help from contract managers. These managers help them supervise all aspects of a contract throughout its lifecycle. Knowing more about this profession can help you decide if want to pursue this career. In this article, we discuss what a contracts manager is, what duties they perform and how to become one, including what skills and qualifications you need to excel in this career.

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

What is a contracts manager?

A contracts manager is a professional who monitors and executes contracts between a company and its clients. These individuals are in charge of organising all parts of a project, from contract review and approval to deadline coordination and budget approval. Contract managers work in a variety of industries including real estate, health care and government.

Most contract managers have a bachelor's degree in finance or business management. However, companies may disregard this criterion if someone has considerable relevant experience. The best contract managers have time management skills and they pay close attention to details. These managers are in charge of overseeing various elements of contracts, including the sale or acquisition of products, services and materials. These specialists may also manage the following contracts:

  • Rental contracts

  • Sales contracts

  • New business proposals

  • Employment contracts

Role and responsibilities of a contract manager

Contract administrators examine all of the company's contracts and make sure they renew those contracts before their expiry date. They make sure that all the parties in a contract execute their contractual duties and adhere to the contract's terms and conditions. A contract manager's responsibilities include the following:

  • Maintaining strong customer connections and making sure that customer requirements are met

  • Meeting with customers to address legal and commercial issues

  • Drafting and modifying a range of client contracts

  • Ensuring that all records are up to date and correct

  • Informing relevant stakeholders about the deal

  • Troubleshooting contract-related issues, such as any contract violations

  • Keeping track of contracts and deciding whether to extend, renew or terminate them

  • Assisting clients in adhering to statutory requirements

  • Negotiating and approving contract conditions to keep the project on track and under budget

  • Participating in meetings to assess project progress and share information with stakeholders

  • Creating frequent status reports to keep track of project progress

Related: Negotiation Skills: Definitions, Benefits And Examples

Differences between a contract manager and a project manager

Although contract managers and project managers have similar types of tasks and challenges, their positions and functions within an organisation are fundamentally different. Project managers oversee new projects from start to completion. In comparison, contract managers focus exclusively on contracts management. They help their clients decide which contract to sign based on thorough research and risk assessment. Once clients decide to sign a contract, contract managers may negotiate the terms of the contract on behalf of their clients. A project manager, comparatively, may be in charge of a variety of project components, including contract management.

Related: 19 Essential Project Management Skills To Master

Salary of a contract manager

The national average salary for contract managers is ₹7,27,336 per year. However, your salary may vary depending on who you work for, what certifications and skills you have, how many projects you have completed, how much professional experience you have and your location. For instance, the average base salary of a contracts manager in Delhi is ₹13,76,753 per year, while the average salary of contracts managers in Kolkata, West Bengal is ₹3,57,819 per year. Some managers may also qualify for benefits aside from their salary, such as a flexible schedule, opportunities to work from home and paid time off.

Related: 8 Major Benefits Of Contract Work (With Definition And Tips)

Skills required to become a contract manager

Here are some of the most important qualities and skills a contract manager should possess:

Attention to detail

A contract manager's excellent attention to detail helps them spot any minor spelling errors or writing errors in an agreement. If not addressed well in advance, these seemingly minor errors can cause major issues for the companies signing the contract. Being attentive also helps you avoid missing important deadlines throughout the contract lifecycle.

Time management skills

It is important to have good time management skills to meet the deadlines and milestones of a contract. As work rates are frequently varied and unexpected, you may need to plan and meet your responsibilities well in advance, which requires excellent time management skills. This also helps make your contracts management process more efficient and organised.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Organisation skills

As a contract manager, your responsibilities include executing and monitoring a contract throughout its lifecycle, implementing changes to an agreement and renewing contracts. All of these require excellent organisation skills. Being organised may help you with these tasks and help you succeed as a contract manager.

Communication skills

One of the most important tasks of contract managers is to convert any complex and formal language into simplified English so that everyone can easily understand it. This includes understanding the "legalese" and boilerplate phrases prevalent in corporate contracts. This requires excellent written communication skills, but it is also important to have verbal communication skills to negotiate the terms of a contract with executives.

Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set: A Complete Guide

Technology skills

Most business contracts are complicated, with many intricate details to keep track of and execute. Furthermore, as each contract has its own set of deadlines and deliverables, maintaining a large contract portfolio often requires the help of technology. Contracts managers should have experience handling modern technology and tools, such as contract administration software or other contract management applications for the successful execution of contracts.

Risk management

Contracts managers should have excellent risk management skills. This includes the ability to identify potential risks before entering a contract, the ability to negotiate the contract terms with a goal to mitigate unnecessary risks and the ability to address minor issues before they turn into major problems.

Knowledge of your industry and company

As a contracts manager, it is crucial to have in-depth knowledge of your company and industry. The more familiar you are with your particular field, the more valuable you become for your company and industry. To develop this skill set, you can take the following steps:

  • Understand the company including its lines of operation, competitors, major markets and current market conditions.

  • Know your customers and vendors, as they are often the most important contract partners for the company.

  • Research the typical contract management procedure.

  • Get familiar with the regulatory requirements and guidelines.

How to become a contracts manager

Here are some of the steps you can take to start your career in this role:

1. Obtain a bachelor's degree

It is common to need at least an undergraduate degree to work as a contracts manager. These managers typically study contracts management and business law in their bachelor's degree courses. However, you can become successful in this role with a degree in finance, legal studies, economics and human resources.

2. Know different stages of contract management

To become successful in this field, consider learning the nine steps of the contract management process. The steps are:

  • Contract request

  • Reviewing and redlining

  • Approval

  • Execution

  • Storage

  • Records management

  • Searching and retrieval

  • Auditing and reporting

  • Renewal and disposition

Related: What Is Persuasion? Definition, Examples And How It Works

3. Look for work opportunities to get experience

Most contract administrator jobs work for a few years of experience in contracts-based activities or contracts management. You can join an internship programme during or after your graduation. Alternatively, consider becoming a paralegal to obtain the skills needed to work as a contract manager. This also helps you gain expertise with in-house legal matters.

4. Join a professional association

Consider joining a professional association, like The International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM). The association brings together contract managers and administrators from all across the world. IACCM members often assist one another in finding new employment or career advancement opportunities. The IACCM also keeps its members informed about any current trends that may have an impact on their day-to-day work.

5. Earn a certification

To broaden your knowledge, consider earning a certification, such as the IACCM certification. Depending on your professional experience and professional education, you can seek a variety of certifications. Having a certification can also help you find a high-paying job.

Related: How To List Certifications on a Resume (With Examples)

6. Consider pursuing a master's degree

Consider returning to school for a master's degree to expand your career opportunities and improve your chances of earning a promotion to a more senior position. To better grasp the language used in contract terms and conditions, you might want to pursue courses in business administration or law. The knowledge you gain in these degree programmes can help you confidently enter the field.

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