Contract NegotiatorJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends
A contract negotiator manages business deals for companies or individuals by evaluating contract agreements and documents, negotiating terms with clients and customers, and resolving contract disputes. Contract negotiators adhere to company guidelines as well as state and federal regulations, so they must be familiar with all state and federal contract rules and regulations. They must have very good communications skills, excellent organization ability, business acumen, and legal know-how.
Contract negotiators serve as advisors in negotiations for labor agreements and contracts. They typically handle grievances, investigate complaints, and act as mediators. Excellent people skills are required as they must develop good relationships when negotiating with various parties. Contract negotiators should possess good presentation skills and an eye for detail.
Sample job description
We bring together the best and brightest minds in the country, and we want to make sure they reach their full potential! That’s why we’re currently searching for a candidate that strives to make sure that everyone is being treated fairly. We have an opening for a contract negotiator on our team. The ideal candidate will be well-versed in state and federal laws and have an adept understanding of contract terms. This individual will interpret contract requirements, anticipate changes required, and help administrate implementation. We’re looking for amazing negotiators to make sure all parties are meeting legal obligations. If you have a desire to administer fairness and foster trust within our organization, and you’ve got excellent negotiation skills, we’d love to hear from you!
Typical duties and responsibilities
Reviewing and interpreting all contract requirements
Forecasting and anticipating changes from contract terms
Understand and articulate contract terms to all relevant parties
Participate in proposal preparation, contract negotiation, administration, and fulfillment in accordance with all company policy, and local, state, and federal laws
Advise and provide consultation for all parties and collaborative departments
Provide mediation for discussions and remedial actions
Ability to develop solutions for a wide variety of problems ranging from mundane to highly complex
Education and experience
Bachelor’s degree in business administration, business management, or a related field
2 years experience in contract development, management, or administration, human resources, or related field
Required skills and qualifications
Excellent verbal and written communication
Knowledge of policies, processes, general practices, and laws as they pertain to government contracts
Demonstrable negotiating skills
Ability to develop consensus and influence resolution
Extensive knowledge of negotiations as they regard to contracting and subcontracting
Work well independently and in a team environment
Experience with the Microsoft Suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
Ability to communicate issues to a wide range of audiences
5 years experience in a negotiations position
Average salary and compensation
The average salary for a contract negotiator is $81,500 per year in the United States, with a potential for cash bonuses per year. Salary may depend on the level of experience, education, and geographical location.
Los Angeles, California
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
New York City, New York
Typical work environment
Contract negotiators will generally work in an office as part of a team. They will consult with other departments to uphold all legal obligations and company policy.
They’ll typically be working at a desk and may be responsible for presenting or participating in meetings and discussions. Some travel should be expected, and long periods of standing and speaking or sitting at a computer are typical for this position. Given the nature of the work, remote positions may be possible as well.
The typical work hours for a contract negotiator in an office setting are 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. The nature of the work will not typically require extra hours at the office. However, in unusual cases where deadlines are approaching or meeting participation at off-hours may change this. Additionally, freelance and agency negotiators have more flexible working hours.
As a government contract negotiator works in a variety of industries, there are many institutions that offer certifications, including:
Negotiation Experts. This online and classroom training offers training ranging from foundational to advanced negotiation skills. Be it sales, procurement, project management, or advanced negotiations, this certification comes with assessments, videos, simulations, and more. You’ll walk away with the key values you need to better understand the negotiation landscape.
Kellogg’s High-Performance Negotiation Skills. Northwestern University offers this interactive program based on the science of negotiation. You’ll develop and implement effective strategies and better identify strengths and weaknesses and receive personalized feedback to better improve your skills. You’ll have the opportunity to learn solo or as a team, and work in a variety of environments with dynamic situations and problems. After obtaining this certification you’ll be better suited to efficient preparation and application regardless of your circumstances.
Harvard Negotiation Workshop. The Harvard Negotiation Institute offers negotiation and mediation courses that focus on training negotiators in a business setting. This is designed for trainees to find value in joint gain and create lasting, positive relationships. You’ll walk away with a thorough understanding of mutual gain, and the structural components that make a deal. You’ll analyze your strengths and weaknesses and coordinate behind-the-scenes negotiation prep.
The journey to becoming a contract negotiator starts with getting a Bachelor’s degree. You’ll typically want to have a degree in a related field, meaning a business degree of some kind will cover the bases. If you’re trying to get into a specific type of position, you may be able to substitute your field or experience in lieu of this. For government-specific contract negotiators, you may be best graduating in government, politics, or something similar.
After obtaining your education, moving into a junior position as part of a team of negotiators and gathering experience is vital. After spending some time in this position, you will have familiarized yourself with the job and become a more competitive candidate.
While gathering this experience, you may additionally obtain certifications to further your understanding of your own negotiation style, and how to better prepare and conduct yourself as a negotiator in any environment.
US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook
SOC Code: 23-1022
Projected Employment in 2030
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift
Companies recognize the importance of adhering to regulation and compliance in the workplace – and for obvious reasons. Aside from expensive and resource-heavy litigation and fines, wise companies see the value in having employees that whom they have a positive relationship with.
Fostering a sense of trust and fairness goes a long way in creating a healthy work environment that produces value and innovation. Retaining happy, healthy employees is worth the extra time and effort it may take to understand contractual obligations, and is certainly more cost-effective than being challenged with lawsuits.
For this reason, you’ll continue to see a need for negotiators as we move into the next decade.
Sample interview questions
Can you describe a time you effectively trained management on labor relations?
How would you select effective arbitrators for disputes and negotiations?
Can you provide a time when your learning of case law or case hearings brought value to your company?
Have you ever provided expert testimony in a legal proceeding?
Can you describe a time you prepared for a disciplinary hearing?
Have you ever developed a policy for a company? What was the impact?
How would you assess the impact of contract proposals?
Do you have any experience with risk assessments associated with contracts?
Have you resolved any issues in written format?
What methods do you use to ensure contract compliance?
Can you describe a successful strategy or objective that you recommended?
We match top professionals with great employers across the country. Your next career move or star employee is just around the corner. Review our career content and advice, browse our latest job openings, or email us your resume. We look forward to connecting with you soon!