what is a contracts manager?

A contracts manager is responsible for drafting, executing and managing contracts for a company. That means you need expertise in contract regulations to help your employer negotiate favorable terms and conditions with third parties. You also draw up the legal documents and oversee the execution of contractual obligations by all parties.

Your duties depend on the organisation's size. For instance, contract managers are responsible for all aspects of contracts, from legal compliance to negotiations in small companies. However, large companies often have a dedicated legal team to handle legal issues and regulatory compliance. That means a contracts manager is only responsible for executing the contract terms.

what does a contracts manager do?

You can work in any industry as a contracts manager since contracts are vital for business operations. Manufacturing industries need agreements when hiring contractors, acquiring goods and employing workers. Retail sectors need contracts managers to ensure companies fulfill obligations to customers and suppliers. As a contracts manager, you encourage better functioning and improve business outcomes by negotiating favorable terms. You also evaluate the ability to meet contractual obligations and adjust your goals towards achieving the targets. 

Would working as a contracts manager suit your negotiation skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a contracts manager role.

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average contracts manager salary

According to our latest salary guide, the salary of a contracts manager in Canada varies greatly depending on industry and level of experience. With an average salary of $100,000, a contracts manager can expect an entry-level salary of around $78,000. With experience, this can rise to over $150,000 a year. 

The energy industry is certainly one of the best-salaried sectors.

Contract managers receive sick pay, transportation allowances and other benefits in addition to their base salary. Some companies offer year-end bonuses or overtime pay. You may also enjoy non-monetary benefits such as vacation days.

how to increase your salary as a contracts manager

Your salary as a contracts manager varies depending on the scope of your role and industry. Contracts managers working in construction rarely earn the same amount as those in retail or manufacturing. Construction involves numerous contracts, which increases the complexity of your job. The compensation package reflects the complexity and scope of work. For instance, dealing with government contracts attracts premium pay since mistakes lead to penalties.

Large companies often pay more since they require additional qualifications and experience from contracts managers. Smaller organizations usually pay less, but the scope of work gives you plenty of experience in various aspects of contracts management. Private sectors also pay more compared to government jobs.

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types of contracts managers

Some of the types of contracts managers include:

  • construction contracts manager: the construction sector grapples with challenging contract management processes. As a contracts manager, you assist in planning and drafting contracts based on the regulations. You ensure a building has the necessary permissions before construction work commences.
  • commercial contracts manager: businesses deal with high volumes of contracts that manage their relationships with customers and suppliers. Your job is to create and negotiate the contracts to ensure business operations run smoothly.
  • manufacturing contracts manager: as a manufacturing contracts manager, you deal with complex and ever-changing regulations related to manufacturing. To minimize risks, you need to ensure adherence to the legislation when drafting and negotiating contracts. You also analyze and evaluate the execution of the contracts to ensure both parties meet their obligations when production commences.
contracts manager
contracts manager

working as a contracts manager

Contracts managers play a crucial role in ensuring stakeholders honor agreements and keep their word. Let's explore the working conditions and job outlook of contract managers.


education and skills

When it comes to the educational background of contract managers, a majority of these professionals hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Typically, their academic pursuits align with fields such as business administration, law, or finance. However, it's noteworthy that certain contract managers employed within in-house legal departments have additional qualifications like paralegal or legal training, which further enhance their expertise.

Aspiring contract managers should bear in mind that several prerequisites pave the way for success in this role. Many companies require prior experience in a contracts department, coupled with a solid understanding of the intricacies of the contract lifecycle. These skills are critical to effectively navigating the nuances of this responsibility.

Moreover, it's important to recognize that the demands of a contract manager go beyond the confines of a basic entry-level position. The job is a testament to its complexity and importance within the broader professional landscape. Consequently, those aspiring to a contract manager role are advised to begin their journey by seeking alternative positions within the legal or contracts department. By taking this approach, individuals can systematically hone their skills, gain valuable experience, and chart a course that will lead them to that coveted leadership position. 

skills and competencies

While you need educational qualifications, most employers are interested in contracts managers with technical skills and competencies such as:

  • interpersonal skills: as a contracts manager, you liaise with many people when creating contracts and negotiating terms. You also rely on the expertise of various employees in the company to develop favorable agreements. That means you need interpersonal skills to work with a team and maintain good relationships.
  • communication skills: when negotiating terms or evaluating tenders, you need exceptional communications skills. You should communicate clearly to everyone, from top management to vendors and employees. Communication skills also help you in contract executions and evaluation.
  • technical skills: as a contracts manager, it is important to have expert industry knowledge. The technical knowledge assists in identifying the best tenders and reviewing industry requirements in contracts. For instance, in construction, you need to know the necessary permits and the contract terms for contractors and project managers.
  • attention to detail: contractual agreements may have loopholes that put the company at a disadvantage, and it is your job to identify the gaps. You need to be detail-oriented to identify unfavorable clauses or mistakes.


 FAQs about working as a contracts manager


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