Government contracting is a big business, and the number of contracts seems to grow every year. With some contracts requiring large prime contractors to respond to proposals and others being set aside for small to medium business to bid on, there are opportunities for just about every contracting company out there. Finding success in government contracting tends to come down to the quality of the response to the customer’s request for proposals (RFPs) and the ability to gather the requisite pieces of the puzzle to deliver on the contract.
Landing a Contract
Some contracts are only six months long while others bring revenue for the contracting company for a decade or more. Having the right contract management team in place is crucial to the success of your organization landing the contract and consequently keeping it for the long term. How do you validate your team’s experience and skill set in contract management? That’s a good question and there is a good answer: contract management certifications.
Certifications that pay dividends
Certifications aren’t just for technically skilled individuals, there are also HR certifications, management certifications and even contract management certifications. Building a contracting team with impressive credentials and skills to match can pay dividends for your organization. There is a lot that goes into contract management from policies and regulations to laws, so having the right skill set will ensure you are in line with everything. Here are some of the best and most relevant contract management certifications on the market today.
Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM)
The first certification on this list is the CFCM, which is perfect for the readers on ClearanceJobs.com. A CFCM has validated their knowledge and skills as a contract manager with an emphasis on federal contracts. The CFCM will have extensive knowledge of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) guidelines which “provides policies and procedures that government acquisition officials and contractors must follow in the procurement process for goods and services (NCMA).” To be eligible for the CFCM certification (without a bachelor’s degree) you must have at least 10 years of verifiable contract management experience. You must submit your resume, college transcripts and pay a $150 (NCMA members) fee ($350 for non-members).
Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM)
Also provided by the National Contract Management Association, the CPCM is for those who have a more broad customer base than the federal government designated CFCM certification. If your organization’s focus is on both the public and private sector, including state government, local government, and education (SLED) then you would reap more benefits by obtaining the CPCM certification. According to NCMA’s website, “CPCM holders are professionals who have mastered the competencies in the Contract Management Body of Knowledge (CMBOK). The Contract Management Standard, an internationally recognized third party standard, is the foundation of the CMBOK.” If you align more closely with the broader CPCM skill set, then this is the certification for you.
Certificate in Contract Management
Another route you can take to gain contract management credentials is to find a program that offers a certificate in contract management. There are many universities that offer certificate programs in contract management as well as independent organizations. Strategic Execution (which is now a part of Korn Ferry), offers two certificate programs to gain experience in contract management. There is a foundational certificate which requires you to complete three courses in two years. These courses range from contract management principles and practices to Federal Contracting Basics. Additionally, they offer a professional certificate which requires you to complete seven courses in four years. Under the professional track there are courses such as Contract Pricing, Negotiation Strategies and Techniques, as well as Vendor Management.
Research, Discuss, and Dive In!
There are many options available to you, so it might take some time to research which certifications or paths may be of value to your individual situation and experience level. Spend some time researching certificate programs. They aren’t degree programs, but they are well respected in the workplace and can teach you valuable skills that will help to advance your career and/or boost your income. If your passion is contract management, there are ample ways to enhance your skill set and expand your knowledge base. Discuss what you want to do with a coworker or mentor and let them help you navigate your path to achieving your contract management goals. Once you know your path and are ready to move forward, dive in and get as much knowledge as you can on your way to becoming a contract management professional.