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How Do I Become a Contract Negotiator?

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  • Written By: K. Kinsella
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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A contract negotiator represents the interests of one party when a contractual agreement is being discussed. Someone wishing to become a contract negotiator might wish to complete a college degree program and enroll in law school. In other instances, employers seek to fill negotiator positions with experienced sales people rather than attorneys.

Contracts come in many forms but major corporations typically employ attorneys to negotiate contracts that are related to financial matters, labor disputes, mergers and other types of complex issues. In many nations, demand for places in law schools greatly outnumbers the supply. Therefore, someone wishing to become a contract negotiator typically must complete an undergraduate degree program with better than average grades. Many law firms enable students to gain work experience through unpaid internships. Individuals who have successfully completed internships are often able to find work as contract lawyers more easily than graduates with no such experience.

In many areas, contracts are subject to both national and regional laws. Additionally, multi-national firms are also subject to some international laws. Therefore, someone wishing to become a contract negotiator for a major firm should be familiar with all of the applicable facets of the law that pertain to the particular firm's operations. Furthermore, in many countries law school graduates have to pass a law exam before they can begin advising clients on contracts and other aspects of the law. Prospective contract negotiators normally have to pass the national law exam before seeking employment opportunities.

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While contract negotiations are often complex, some firms hire a team of attorneys to draw up the key areas of a contract but employ sales people to actually conduct negotiations. These individuals have the discretion to alter some of the terms of the agreement, such as the cost or the quantity of goods or services that are to be provided. In many instances, these sales people are paid on commission and do not receive salaries. When negotiators make financial concessions during contract negotiations, they stand to lose some of their commission. Those wishing to become a contract negotiator can benefit from having skills of persuasion and should have the ability to quickly calculate the advantages and disadvantages of agreeing a particular price for a contract.

Sales people employed as contract negotiators often have college degrees in finance or business. Prior to working as negotiators, these individuals normally have to gains some industry related sales experience. In addition to hiring college graduates, some firms promote entry-level sales people into sales negotiator roles. Typically, the best performing sales people are given the opportunity to fill these roles, although in many instances the candidates must first complete an in-house training course.

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