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Top 11 Contract Specialist Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top contract specialist certifications available, including requirements and benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications are important for contract specialists in the job market as they demonstrate a certain level of expertise and knowledge. A certification shows that a contract specialist has taken the time to learn and understand the complexities of contract law, regulations, and procedures. Certification also serves as an indication to potential employers that the specialist is capable of working effectively and efficiently in their desired role. Furthermore, certifications can provide employers with assurance that the specialist is up-to-date on current industry standards, trends, and best practices. This can help employers make more informed hiring decisions and increase confidence that the specialist will be able to perform at a high level.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Contract Specialists and explains how they can contribute to a Contract Specialist's career, providing them with the necessary knowledge and qualifications to be successful.

What are Contract Specialist Certifications?

Contract specialist certification is a type of professional certification that focuses on the skills and knowledge needed to effectively manage contracts. It is designed to help individuals acquire the skills necessary to properly evaluate, negotiate, draft, and administer contracts. The certification covers topics such as contract law, negotiation strategies, pricing models, risk assessment and management, project management principles and practices, as well as dispute resolution.

Having a contract specialist certification can be beneficial in many ways. It demonstrates that an individual has obtained the necessary knowledge and skills to successfully manage contracts. This can be very helpful when looking for employment or promotion opportunities. Additionally, having this certification may give an individual more credibility in their field and make them more attractive to potential employers or clients. Additionally, it could allow them to better understand the complexities of contractual agreements and be able to provide more comprehensive advice when negotiating or administering contracts. Finally, having a contract specialist certification could help an individual stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices related to contract management.

Pro Tip: Before pursuing a contract specialist certification, make sure to research the requirements and standards of the certification program to ensure that it meets your professional goals. Additionally, consider taking courses in areas such as contract law and negotiation in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the field.

Related: What does a Contract Specialist do?

Top 11 Contract Specialist Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Contract Specialists today.

1. Certified Federal Contract Manager (CFCM)

Certified Federal Contract Manager (CFCM) is a professional certification offered by the National Contract Management Association (NCMA). It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of expertise in federal government contract management.

The CFCM certification requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge and experience in the field of federal contract management. This includes knowledge of applicable laws, regulations, and policies; an understanding of the principles of contracting; and mastery of the processes, procedures, and practices associated with managing contracts.

To become certified as a CFCM, applicants must pass an exam administered by NCMA. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as contract law, negotiation strategies, and cost/price analysis. Candidates must also demonstrate at least three years of professional experience in federal government contract management within the past five years.

The CFCM exam typically takes between four and six hours to complete. To register for the exam, applicants must submit an application form along with proof of their professional experience in federal government contract management. The cost for taking the exam is $395 for NCMA members or $495 for non-members.

2. Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM)

Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM) is a professional certification awarded by the National Contract Management Association (NCMA). It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of expertise in contract management and demonstrate their knowledge and experience in this field.

The CPCM certification requires applicants to have at least three years of full-time contract management experience, as well as a bachelor’s degree or higher. In addition, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as legal principles, negotiation strategies, and risk management. The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately four hours to complete.

To get the CPCM certification, applicants must first register for the exam with NCMA. The cost of registration is $495 for NCMA members and $695 for non-members. After registering, applicants can begin studying for the exam using NCMA’s study materials. Once they have passed the exam, they will receive their CPCM certificate from NCMA.

Overall, it typically takes about six months to prepare for and pass the CPCM exam.

3. Certified Government Contracting Officer (CGCO)

A Certified Government Contracting Officer (CGCO) is a professional designation awarded by the National Contract Management Association (NCMA). It recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a mastery of the principles, practices, and regulations governing government contracting. The CGCO program is designed to provide professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage government contracts.

It typically takes between 6-12 months to complete the CGCO program. To become certified, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as contract law, negotiation strategies, cost analysis, and procurement regulations. Applicants must also demonstrate their knowledge of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and other applicable laws and regulations.

The cost of the CGCO program varies depending on whether you take it online or in-person. Online courses typically range from $500-$1,500 while in-person courses can cost up to $3,000. In addition to course fees, applicants must also pay a one-time certification fee of $150 upon successful completion of the exam.

Overall, becoming a Certified Government Contracting Officer requires dedication and hard work but can be a great way for professionals to demonstrate their expertise in government contracting.

4. Certified Commercial Contracts Manager (CCCM)

Certified Commercial Contracts Manager (CCCM) is a professional certification program offered by the National Contract Management Association (NCMA). The CCCM credential recognizes professionals who have achieved a high level of expertise in the field of commercial contracts management.

The program requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the principles and best practices related to managing commercial contracts, including contract formation, negotiation, performance, termination, and dispute resolution. To be eligible for the CCCM credential, applicants must have at least five years of experience in commercial contracts management or related fields.

It typically takes about two months to complete the CCCM certification process. Applicants must first submit an application form along with supporting documents such as transcripts and references. Once accepted into the program, applicants must pass a three-hour written examination that covers topics related to commercial contracts management. Upon successful completion of the exam, applicants will receive their CCCM certificate.

The cost of obtaining the CCCM credential varies depending on whether you are an NCMA member or non-member. For NCMA members, it costs $395; for non-members it costs $595.

5. Certified Negotiations Expert (CNE)

Certified Negotiations Expert (CNE) is a professional designation awarded to individuals who demonstrate expertise in the art of negotiations. The CNE certification is offered by the Real Estate Negotiation Institute (RENI), a leading provider of negotiation training and education.

To obtain the CNE certification, candidates must complete a comprehensive course that covers all aspects of negotiations, including preparation, communication, tactics, strategies and implementation. The course consists of two parts: an online component and an in-person workshop. The online component includes videos and interactive exercises that provide an overview of negotiation principles and techniques. The in-person workshop is more intensive and includes role-playing activities to allow participants to practice their negotiation skills in real-world scenarios.

The CNE certification process typically takes between four to six weeks to complete depending on the availability of classes and workshops. To get started, candidates must register for the program through RENI’s website or by calling their customer service line. After registering, candidates will receive access to the online portion of the course as well as information about upcoming workshops in their area.

The cost for obtaining the CNE certification varies depending on which package you choose. RENI offers several different packages ranging from $595-$995 USD which include access to both components of the course as well as additional resources such as books and audio recordings with expert advice from certified negotiators.

6. Certified Government Acquisition Professional (CGAP)

Certified Government Acquisition Professional (CGAP) is a professional certification program designed to recognize and validate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of government acquisition professionals. It is offered by the Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI), which is part of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The CGAP program consists of four levels: Level I, Level II, Level III, and Level IV. Each level requires an increasing level of knowledge and experience in government acquisition. To become certified at each level, applicants must pass an exam that tests their knowledge in areas such as contracting principles, regulations, policies, procedures, and practices.

It typically takes between one to two years to complete all four levels of the CGAP program depending on the individual’s experience and commitment to studying for the exams.

To get started with the CGAP program, applicants must first register with FAI and submit an application form along with supporting documentation such as proof of education or training in government acquisition. Once approved by FAI, applicants can then register for each exam they wish to take.

The cost for taking each exam varies but generally ranges from $150-$400 per exam depending on the level being taken.

7. Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB)

Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) is a credential awarded by the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC). It is designed to recognize and validate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of public procurement professionals. The CPPB certification is intended to demonstrate that an individual has achieved a high level of proficiency in public procurement practices.

To obtain the CPPB certification, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements and pass an exam. Eligibility requirements include having a minimum of three years of full-time professional public procurement experience within the last five years, or two years if the applicant holds a bachelor’s degree in public purchasing or related field.

The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as contract management, purchasing methods and techniques, legal aspects of public procurement, and ethical considerations. The exam takes approximately four hours to complete.

The cost for taking the CPPB exam is $295 for UPPCC members and $395 for non-members.

8. Project Management Institute – Contract Management Professional (PMI-CMP)

The Project Management Institute – Contract Management Professional (PMI-CMP) is a certification program designed to recognize and validate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of contract management professionals. This certification is intended for those who are responsible for managing contracts in a variety of industries and organizations. The PMI-CMP designation recognizes an individual’s ability to effectively manage contract lifecycles, from pre-award to post-award activities.

It typically takes around three months to get the PMI-CMP certification. To get it, you must first meet certain eligibility requirements. These include having at least three years of professional experience in contract management or related fields; having a bachelor’s degree; and passing the PMI-CMP exam. After meeting these requirements, you can register for the exam through the PMI website.

The cost of the PMI-CMP certification varies depending on your country of residence, but generally ranges from $400 to $600 USD. This includes the exam fee as well as membership fees if applicable. Additionally, there may be additional costs associated with preparing for the exam such as study materials or courses offered by third parties.

9. National Contract Management Association – Certified Federal Contracts Manager (NCMA-CFCM)

The National Contract Management Association (NCMA) Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) certification is a professional credential that demonstrates expertise in the federal contracting process. It is designed to recognize and validate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of individuals who manage federal contracts.

To become certified as a CFCM, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, pass an exam administered by NCMA, and agree to abide by the NCMA Code of Ethics. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as contract law, regulations, pricing, negotiation strategies, and more.

It typically takes about 6 months to prepare for the exam. To get started on your path to becoming a CFCM, you can purchase NCMA study materials or enroll in an online course offered through NCMA's partner schools. You can also find helpful resources on the NCMA website.

The cost of becoming a CFCM depends on which study materials or courses you choose to use. The exam fee is $525 for members of NCMA and $625 for non-members.

10. American Purchasing Society – Certified Professional Public Buyer (APS-CPPB)

The American Purchasing Society – Certified Professional Public Buyer (APS-CPPB) is a certification program that recognizes the professional achievements of purchasing and supply management professionals. It is designed to promote excellence in the field by recognizing and validating the knowledge, skills, and abilities of individuals who have achieved a high level of proficiency in public procurement.

To earn the APS-CPPB certification, an individual must pass an exam administered by the American Purchasing Society. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as public procurement law, contract management, supplier relations, cost analysis, and ethical considerations. Candidates must also submit a portfolio demonstrating their experience in public procurement.

It typically takes three to six months to prepare for the APS-CPPB exam. Preparation materials can be purchased from the American Purchasing Society website or from other sources such as bookstores or online retailers.

The cost of taking the APS-CPPB exam varies depending on when and where you take it. Generally speaking, it costs between $300 and $500 for both the exam fee and preparation materials.

Once an individual passes the APS-CPPB exam, they will receive a certificate acknowledging their achievement as well as access to exclusive resources available only to certified purchasers. They will also be listed in the American Purchasing Society's directory of certified professionals.

11. American Bar Association – Government Procurement Lawyer Certification Program (ABACPLP).

The American Bar Association – Government Procurement Lawyer Certification Program (ABACPLP) is a certification program that recognizes attorneys who have achieved a high level of expertise in government procurement law. The program is designed to help attorneys demonstrate their knowledge and experience in this specialized area of the law.

To become certified, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be an active member of the ABA;
  • Have at least five years of legal experience in government procurement law;
  • Pass an examination that covers topics such as federal acquisition regulations, bid protests, contract formation and administration, and other related matters;
  • Submit references from three current or former clients or colleagues who can attest to your expertise in government procurement law.

The process typically takes between six months and one year to complete. After submitting the application, applicants will receive notification about whether they have been accepted for certification within two weeks. Upon acceptance, applicants must take the exam within one year. The exam fee is $250 for ABA members and $350 for non-members. Successful completion of the exam will result in certification as a Government Procurement Lawyer by the ABA.

Do You Really Need a Contract Specialist Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on your career goals and professional experience. If you are looking to enter a new field as a contract specialist, then a certificate may be beneficial. A certificate can demonstrate your knowledge of the field, as well as provide evidence that you have the necessary skills to be successful in the role.

However, if you already have experience working in contracts or related fields, then a certificate may not be necessary. Employers will likely take into account your prior experience when considering your application for a position. Your education and qualifications may also play an important role in determining whether or not you get hired.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to pursue a contract specialist certificate is up to you and should depend on what kind of career path you want to pursue. It can certainly help open doors and give you an edge over other applicants, but it is not necessarily required for success in the field.

Related: Contract Specialist Resume Examples

FAQs About Contract Specialist Certifications

1. What are the requirements for obtaining a Contract Specialist Certification?

Answer: The requirements for obtaining a Contract Specialist Certification vary depending on the certifying body, but typically include passing an exam, completing coursework, and having at least three years of experience in contract management.

2. How much does it cost to become certified as a Contract Specialist?

Answer: The cost to become certified as a Contract Specialist varies depending on the certifying body, but typically ranges from $100 to $400.

3. What type of job opportunities are available with a Contract Specialist Certification?

Answer: With a Contract Specialist Certification, you may be able to pursue positions such as contracts manager, senior contracts negotiator, or procurement specialist.

4. How long does it take to receive my certification after I pass the exam?

Answer: Depending on the certifying body, you may receive your certification within 1-2 weeks after passing the exam.

5. Is there an expiration date for my Contract Specialist Certification?

Answer: Yes, most certifications have an expiration date and require renewal every few years in order to remain valid.