Using Certifications to Build Your Career in Government Contract Administration

Being a part of the government contracting industry means you’re dealing with competition in a highly coveted career sector. You must learn how to set yourself apart in to be successful. This is particularly true for those involved in the contract management and administration portion of the industry.

Gaining and building on your professional certifications is one of the best ways to build your career in such a competitive field. Not only do certifications help you have access to bigger and better opportunities, but they can also help lead to higher pay.

So what exactly are these certifications? According to the National Contract Management Association (NCMA), there are five certifications that serve as “professional designations of distinction”— CPCM, CFCM, CCCM, ICCM-D, and ICCM-F. Each certification requires rigorous training and knowledge. Here are key points for each:

CPCM certification (Certified Professional Contract Manager):
This certification demonstrates the highest standards of education. It is the NCMA’s senior and most prestigious certification. A simple search on LinkedIn will show the jobs available to those with a CPCM; Director of Contracts at an environmental agency and Federal Contract Specialist Consultants at federal agencies in Washington D.C. are just a few.

CFCM (Certified Federal Contracts Manager):
This certification validates your education, training, experience and your knowledge of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Jobs requiring a CFCM include contract manager with a major company (i.e. Verizon) and a Junior Acquisition Analyst Consultant for federal agencies.

CCM (Certified Contracts Manager):
This certification validates your knowledge and experience of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Jobs requiring a CCM certification include a Contract Specialist position with the U.S. Navy and an Acquisition Specialist.

ICCM-D (Industry Certification in Contract Management- Defense) and the ICCM-F (Industry Certification in Contract Management – Federal):
These certifications serve as hybrids with other contracting certifications.

Each certification is a great way to enhance your professional skills as well as your resume. Kevin Drummond of Integrity Matters, sources some data from the NCMA proving that certified contractors could earn, on average, $10,000-25,000 more annually than their non-certified colleagues.

So, if you’re ready to take your career in federal contract management to the next step, we recommend you continue your training and become certified. The benefits are worth the work.