Charting a Pathway Into Contract Management 

By Samantha Williams, NCMA Senior Director, Learning

When did you begin pursuing a contract management career? In college? In high school? After a few years in the workforce? 

  After studying international development, my first “real job” was filing paperwork in the Subcontracts and Procurement Department of RTI International’s International Development Group. My only criteria: the job did not require serving tables. The fact that it was peripherally connected to my degree made it feel like a dream job. 

  After months of organizing filing cabinets, I’d found my profession. Contract management made sense to me; it was both practical and creative. It brought me opportunities and adventures in the first years of my career – for example, helping subcontractors develop policies and register in in places with no internet connectivity. Years later when I went back to school for adult learning, I discovered that practical skills I’d learned were transferable. 

  I share to illustrate what we all know – contract management leads to meaningful jobs in interesting places, supporting critical missions. We also know that stories of how people enter the profession are often unique and circuitous. 

  NCMA bolsters the workforce by championing the profession and supporting newcomers. This part of our mission is twofold. First, it involves sharing the profession so that more students and professionals find contract management on purpose. Second, it eases a pathway into the profession.

 Sharing the Profession

What will my day look like? Will I be sitting at a desk all day? What kind of salary will I earn? These are all questions students ask NCMA about contract management. 

  NCMA recently held a webinar on contract management careers that included presentations from Jessica Johnson, CPCM, CFCM, sharing a day in the life of a contract manager; Madalynn Hamlin of NCMA’s current Contract Management Leadership Development Program sharing her early career advice for those growing their networks; and Marvin Horne, NASA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Procurement sharing his passion for the workforce and practical information and guidance for entering the federal workforce in support of important missions. The recorded webinar is available on NCMA’s Career web page at 

  NCMA regularly reaches out to student organizations, higher education career centers, business schools, and other degree programs to share information about the contract management profession. 

Easing a Pathway Into the Profession

  NCMA shares a four-part pathway for students and career transitioners: become an NCMA Member, complete an internship, prepare for certification, and earn the Certified Contract Management Associate (CCMA) certification.

NCMA membership is free to students and discounted for early professionals. We believe that connecting to our community through chapters, events, the “Collaborate” online forum, and member resources and training is the best way to prepare for a career in contract management. As this issue’s cover story illustrates, a professional network is the foundation of a successful career. 

  NCMA is launching a new online internship board on its Careers page. Every employer on NCMA’s board will commit to providing the selected intern with meaningful practice in Contract Management Standard™ based competencies and job tasks. 

  NCMA’s Certified Contract Management Associate (CCMA) is an entry-level certification designed to be a stepping stone into high-er-level NCMA certifications. Students in school can prepare for the CCMA through NCMA’s self-paced preparatory course, free to students. 

  Armed with their free membership, students will be able to take advantage of the 40 free credits offered to NCMA members to meet the minimum continuing professional education (CPE) eligibility requirements for the CCMA. To find free member credits, visit NCMA’s Catalog at and click on the “Free to Members” tab.

When a student graduates, they will be ready to sit for the 90-question exam and officially enter the workforce already with a professional designation that sets them apart from the masses by demonstrating their commitment to professional currency. 

Whether newcomers are students entering the workforce for the first time or professionals making a career transition, NCMA and its amazing community are committed to supporting their entry and journeys to and through fulfilling careers. CM