A grant specialist supervises the process of applying for grants offering funding opportunities relevant to the organization the specialist works for. Many grant specialists are public employees, representing organizations like schools, cities, and government agencies. Others may work for private organizations that rely heavily on grant funding, such as nonprofits. There are no special requirements to become a grant specialist, although a bachelor's degree is usually preferred and many companies will not hire people without experience.
The grant specialist is responsible for identifying grants potentially applicable to the organization the specialist works for, using resources like grant listings and automated databases. The specialist examines the terms and conditions of individual grants to confirm the organization is eligible, and then files a grant application. Grant applications typically require extensive paperwork and supporting documentation, and being able to fill out applications accurately and in detail is an important skill.
Grant specialists are typically at work on multiple grants at once. Some may be in the very early stages, while others may be further along in the application process. If grants are approved, the grant specialist makes sure the terms of the grant are met, providing reporting and disclosure information to the granting agency or organization if requested, and meeting any other requirements. For example, it may be necessary to document how the money was used to continue qualifying for grant funding.
Many grant specialists have degrees in fields like communications and business administration. Grant specialists need to be able to keep multiple applications organized, to network with a variety of people in the process of identifying funding needs and meeting them through the use of grants, and to be able to communicate clearly in their applications. This type of work also requires people skills, as it may be necessary to interact personally with sources of grant funding and a personable, friendly grant specialist is more likely to win a fierce competition for grant monies.
People typically begin careers as grant specialists by working in the office of a specialist who can provide mentoring, training, and exposure to the grant application and filing process. Over time, office staff can achieve more independence, until eventually they are filing grants entirely on their own. Once a high level of competence is reached, people can explore the possibility of applying for higher ranking positions in the office, or seeking work elsewhere, with other organizations in need of the services of a grant specialist.