A career as a government contracts manager is one of the potential employment options available to individuals who have earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. While a commercial contracts manager typically negotiates agreements between businesses, a government contracts manager handles contract negotiations and execution for the sale of goods and services to public agencies at the local, state and federal levels.
These professionals develop proposals, draft terms and conditions, and follow up on each aspect of the contract.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of purchasing managers, also known as contract managers, will remain steady from 2014 to 2024. Opportunities will likely vary among industries, and candidates with educational qualifications, professional certifications and relevant experience typically are better positioned for career advancement.
With the global business environment becoming increasingly complex, expertise in contract management could become even more important, particularly when lucrative government contracts are at stake.
Government contracts managers are responsible for the successful delivery of goods and services to federal, state or local government agencies. They manage a variety of contracts and subcontracts in accordance with company procedures, applicable laws and government requirements. These contract experts provide advice to upper management and project teams on compliance and fulfillment.
Typical job duties for government contracts managers include: preparing proposals; writing contract terms and conditions; preparing and disseminating information regarding contract status; reviewing contractual obligations; identifying risks and problems, and proposing solutions; and reporting to project teams, accounting staff and management.
They also act as liaisons among companies and government agencies.
Potential salary ranges for government contracts managers vary among employers and industries. The BLS reports that purchasing managers nationwide earned an average yearly wage of $108,120 as of May 2015. According to the 2016 Salary Guide by global staffing firm Robert Half, purchasing managers had a salary range of $55,250 to $82,750.
Recent bachelor’s graduates with minimal experience will generally start out toward the lower end of the salary range. Experienced contracts managers with advanced degrees or certifications generally have higher salary ranges.
Potential salaries and employment opportunities can be determined by multiple factors, including a candidate’s work history and level of educational attainment, as well as regional market conditions.
Employers may prefer to hire government contracts managers with at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Some will seek candidates who hold an MBA with a specialization in Accounting and Finance. Priority may be given to applicants who hold contracts manager certification from the National Contract Management Association.
The first step toward a career as a government contracts manager can begin with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Program coursework often includes statistics, economics, finance, political science and public administration.
Employers should expect graduates of an accounting education program to be able to:
Government contracts managers should be analytical, detail-oriented and talented negotiators. They must have strong knowledge of contract management methods and government regulations. Attaining educational qualifications can help these professionals advance to positions such as chief procurement officer.