Did you know that you can learn the contract management process, get a degree, and start your new career without physically attending college? An online bachelor’s degree in acquisition and contract management teaches you various industry-specific skills at home or wherever you are in the world. Instead of studying in a classroom, you learn subjects like business acquisition, contract negotiations, and contract law over the internet on your computer or smart device. Upon graduation, you could work for the government or a commercial organization, managing contracts and overseeing critical acquisitions.
Read on to learn more about online bachelor’s degrees in acquisition and contract management.
What Is an Online Acquisition and Contract Management Degree?
An online acquisition and contract management degree teaches the skills required for a career in contract management or a related field. Pursuing your degree online allows for greater flexibility without sacrificing the quality of your education.
How Does an Online Degree Program Work?
Unlike a face-to-face program, an online acquisition and contract management degree program is virtual. In most cases, you can complete your work at the time and place that works best for you. You will communicate with instructors via digital technologies like:
- Video tutorials
- Digital workshops
- Community forums
You might take all your contract and acquisition management classes online or combine virtual lessons with hands-on experience at a private company or government organization.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Acquisition and Contract Management?
It takes around four years for full-time students to complete an online bachelor’s in acquisition and contract management. During that time, you’ll learn skills like:
- Contract law
- Negotiation planning
- Financial risk management
- Developing acquisition sustainability strategies
- Project management
- Acquisition and contract management ethics
- Using a contract management system
Some online programs let you study for an additional certification alongside your bachelor’s, such as a qualification awarded by the National Contract Management Association (NCMA).
What Careers Are Related to Acquisition and Contract Management?
Because contracts are important to private businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits alike, earning a bachelor’s degree in acquisition and contract management may help you qualify for positions with a variety of employers. When you receive your online bachelor’s in acquisition and contract management, you may be able to get a job as a:
- Contract manager
- Contract administration manager
- Commercial manager
- Procurement manager
- Administrative services manager
After several years in a management role, you may be able to advance and become a contract director or even a top executive.
What Does a Contract Manager Do?
Professionals in contract management are responsible for overseeing every aspect of the contract process. A typical job in contract and acquisition management involves:
- Negotiating legal agreements between two or more organizations
- Establishing contracts
- Approving contract terms
- Approving budgets
- Ensuring quality compliance
- Coordinating deadlines
- Adhering to procurement legislation
- Supporting a contract director
As an acquisition and contract management professional, you will have a wide range of responsibilities. These include drafting, reviewing, and regulating all contracts and legal documents and identifying potential contract breaches that could put an organization at financial or legal risk. You will work closely with the rest of the acquisition and contract management team on various projects and clearly communicate contract terms to the rest of the organization.
How Much Does an Acquisition and Contract Management Degree Cost?
The average cost of a bachelor’s degree in acquisition and contract management is between $9,687 and $35,087 in tuition fees, according to U.S. News & World Report (average costs for the 2020-2021 academic year). These costs don’t include any program supplies, registration fees, examination fees, commuting costs, or room and board rates.
An online bachelor’s in acquisition and contract management is often more affordable than a regular degree because you may not have to pay for travel or housing costs.
What Forms of Financial Aid are Available for an Acquisition and Contract Management Program?
Paying for a bachelor’s degree can be intimidating, but there are ways to lessen the expense. Some common financial aid options for a bachelor’s in acquisition and contract management include:
- Filing a FAFSA to determine whether you are eligible for federal aid
- Researching state aid that may be available
- Speaking with your employer (if you are currently employed) about opportunities for tuition assistance or reimbursement
- Looking for scholarship opportunities designed for students in your major or circumstances, such as if you are a first-year college student
If you have already been accepted to an online degree program, it may be helpful to reach out to the school’s financial aid office. The representatives can give you detailed information about financial aid opportunities and how to apply for them.
Average Salary for an Acquisition and Contract Management Degree
The median annual salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in government contract management — one of the most popular acquisition and contract management degree programs — is around $95,000, according to March 2021 data from PayScale. Those with several years of experience in an acquisition and contract management position or with specific skills such as knowledge of international contract law might earn a higher salary than this amount.
What Is the Job Outlook for Acquisition and Contract Management Degree Holders?
The outlook is positive for acquisition and contract management majors. For example, there will be a 7.3% increase in job opportunities for administrative services managers from 2018 to 2028, according to Projections Central/Department of Labor. That’s higher than the average increase for all job fields (around 5%).
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Acquisition and Contract Management?
Working as a contract or acquisition manager is the clearest path for a graduate with a degree in contract management. However, there are also other opportunities that align well with the knowledge and skills that you gain while earning this kind of degree.
Many industries hire contract managers to serve as intermediaries between organizations and their clients. They are responsible for drafting, analyzing, and executing contracts, assessing risk, negotiating terms, and ensuring compliance. According to Payscale, the median annual salary for a contract manager is around $85,600 as of October 2022. Contract managers could also earn around $1,000-$16,000 in bonuses and up to around $7,000 in commissions.
Administrative Services and Facilities Manager
Another common career path for graduates of acquisition and contract management programs is administrative services management. These managers are responsible for overseeing staff, managing records, and making recommendations to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2021, administrative services and facilities managers earn a median annual salary of $99,300. This area of employment is projected to have average growth over the next several years.
Labor Relations Specialists
Labor relations specialists work with businesses and labor unions to settle disputes and negotiate labor contracts. They help parties come to agreeable terms related to salaries, benefits, and work conditions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, in May 2021, the median salary for labor relations specialists was approximately $77,000 per year. The job outlook for this career is projected to decline in the coming years.
Human Resources Managers
Human resources managers deal with employment contracts on a daily basis as they oversee recruitment and hiring processes. They also help resolve disputes between employers and employees. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for human resources managers is projected to remain steady at 7% over the next several years. In 2021, the median salary for these professionals was around $126,200 annually.
Negotiating and developing contracts with vendors is a critical responsibility of purchasing managers, who determine when and where to buy supplies and how much money to spend. With a median salary of $75,400 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, purchasing managers earn more than employees in many other areas. However, as of 2021, this area of employment is projected to have declining growth.
It’s important for financial analysts to be able to evaluate risk so that they can make recommendations about investments for individuals and organizations. Many insurance companies and banks employ financial analysts to offer economic guidance. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that financial analysts have above-average salaries and stability, with median annual earnings of around $95,600 and a 9% growth rate as of May 2021.
Courses in Acquisition and Contract Management
The curriculum for an acquisition and contract management degree program depends on the school you attend and whether you are specializing in a particular area. Some of the most common courses include:
- Contract Law: In this course, students learn about the formation of contracts, how and when promises are enforced, contract terms, and breach of contract.
- The Art of Negotiation: This class focuses on the skills required to successfully negotiate contract terms between parties.
- The Ethics of Acquisition and Contract Management: Students in this class learn about ethical issues related to entering and enforcing contracts.
- Preparing Legal Contracts: This course explores the steps required to prepare an enforceable contract and the standards contracts must meet.
- Financial Risk Management: Students learn the different kinds of financial risk that organizations face and discover how to properly manage them.
- Understanding Legal Compliance: In this class, students learn about regulations and governing bodies that oversee compliance.
- Record Management: This course focuses on the methods professionals use to properly and securely manage records, particularly those with sensitive information.
- Communicating Contract Terms with Stakeholders, Partners, and Team Members: Students in this class learn how to communicate professionally with all interested parties involved in a contract negotiation.
- Using a Contract Management System: In this course, students learn how to effectively use a system to track and manage contracts at every stage.
- Contract Management Data Analytics: This class involves the use of data analytics to extract valuable information from contracts and apply it to improve business processes.
- Soft Skills: Students may take a variety of courses focused on topics like communication, strategic planning, and calendar management.
If you are interested in obtaining contract management certification, some schools might teach you the skills required to pass an industry-specific qualification offered by an organization like the NCMA. You may also get real-world acquisition and contract management experience at a local company or government organization through an internship or practicum.
What Are the Benefits of Licensure and Certification?
Beyond your bachelor’s degree, you may choose to also pursue licensure or certification. Doing so may help you qualify for more positions and strengthen your qualifications as a job candidate. Certification programs also help to ensure that you are aware of the most current information in the industry.
For contract managers, the most prominent organization that offers certification is the NCMA. They offer certifications for professionals at different stages of their careers and working within various industries:
- Certified Professional Contract Manager (CPCM)
- Certified Federal Contract Manager (CFCM)
- Certified Commercial Contract Manager (CCCM)
- Certified Contract Management Associate (CCMA)
In addition to the NCMA, it may be helpful to research the Commercial and Contract Management certification from World Commerce and Contracting. Depending on your employer, it might also be worthwhile to investigate industry-specific certifications, such as the safety and health fundamentals certificate program from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Is a Bachelor’s Degree in Acquisition and Contract Management Right for Me?
If you enjoy negotiating and resolving conflicts, a bachelor’s degree in acquisition and contract management might be a good fit. Careers in this area require strong communication skills and the ability to pay close attention to detail. Collaboration and interpersonal skills are also key, so if you prefer to work independently, a career in contract management and acquisitions may not be ideal.In this field, it’s also necessary to stay up-to-date on regulations, requirements, and legal standards, so a professional who is committed to continuous learning has the potential to excel. If you are interested in working with contracts but would prefer a broader degree, a bachelor’s in business management might be a good alternative.
FAQs About an Acquisition and Contract Management Degree
- You can get an acquisition and contract management degree online or at a college campus.
- Both options take the same time to complete.
- You can achieve an online bachelor’s in this discipline in around four years full-time.
Benefits of studying for an acquisition and contract management degree include:
- Increased earning potential.
- The opportunity to balance your studies with any family or work commitments.
- The chance to study for a degree at home or from anywhere in the world.
- A degree in acquisition and contract management costs between $9,687 and $35,087 in tuition fees, according to U.S. News and World Report.
- An online bachelor’s degree could work out cheaper than a regular college degree because you might not have to commute to a college or live on campus.
- You can apply for a scholarship or other financial aid to reduce the cost of your education.