Become a Negotiator for the Department of Defense
What is a negotiator?
Negotiators, known within the Department of Defense as “Contract Specialists,” broker
deals with defense contractors to obtain the services, hardware, and weapon systems
our country’s military needs in order to fight and win. We take pride in equipping
U.S. Warfighters in a manner that ensures they are always far better armed than their
How do I know if this job is right for me?
The best negotiators have strong analytical skills, writing skills, and verbal communication
skills. They are inquisitive, confident, persistent, and persuasive. They stay calm
during conflict. Great negotiators are gifted problem solvers. They use determination
and creativity to find solutions that mutually benefit their organization and their
Why Missile Defense Agency?
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is assembling a team of career professionals to develop
and deploy one of the most challenging and advanced technological undertakings since
the U.S. moon landing. Here's your chance to participate in our layered missile defense
system, which is being developed and tested to defend our country, our allies, and
our troops in the field.
The MDA is looking for bright, business savvy students with diverse backgrounds, education,
insight, ability and a clear sense of mission. If you are prepared, talented, and
motivated, we have a position for you serving your country and defending freedom in
one of the most critical efforts in history.
How do I get started in a career as a negotiator at MDA?
The best entry point is the Missile Defense Career Development Program (MDCDP). It’s
a 3-year program that develops employees into fully productive members of our team.
The MDCDP offers an extraordinary opportunity for those who desire to gain a head
start on their professional career, acquire valuable technical and professional experience
and training, and feel a sense of pride contributing to the nation’s defense.
How much do negotiators get paid?
In Huntsville, starting pay for participants in the MDCDP is $44,705 and progresses non-competitively each year for three years to $54,684 at the end of year one, $66,162 at the end of year two, and $79,301 at the end of year three. After graduating from the program, pay increases are based on performance and competitive promotions. Maximum potential pay in the contracting career field is $170,403.
Who is qualified?
All applicants must:
- Be U.S. Citizens
- Be able to obtain and maintain a secret security clearance
- Anticipate graduating by May 2020 with at least 24 business credits.
Candidates should have a GPA of 3.0 or better. Ideal candidates have a GPA of 3.5
or better. On your résumé, please include your unweighted GPA and discuss your involvement/leadership
in organizations at your college campus.
How will MDA develop my talent?
The MDCDP is an entry level program that does not require prior experience. It provides
extensive classroom training, computer-based training, on-the-job training, rotational
opportunities, mentor-pairing, and leadership development.
During the course of the program, the Department of Defense will invest more than
$14,000 to train you as a negotiator. Tuition assistance may also be available for
graduate education and certificate programs.
What benefits are offered?
- Permanent, full-time employment
- Flexible and alternative work schedules
- 10 paid Federal holidays
- 13 days of vacation per year (20 after 3 years, 26 after 15 years)
- 13 days of sick leave per year
- Low-cost term life insurance
- Choice of several health plans
- Excellent, 3-tiered retirement plan with tax-deferred benefits and agency matching contributions up to 5% of salary.
- Relocation expense may be paid.
What does a typical day look like at MDA?
There is no typical day as a negotiator at MDA. Some days you will conduct complex cost analysis. Other days you will prepare a written business case and present it to senior leaders. Sometimes you will meet with defense industry executives to collaborate on ideas that meet their goals while fulfilling MDA’s mission. No two days are exactly alike.
How (and when) should I apply?
Please send your résumé, cover letter, and transcripts to ContractingCareers@mda.mil by 1:00 pm on February 6, 2020.
How can I get more information?
For more information, please visit https://www.mda.mil/careers/index.html or write to ContractingCareers@mda.mil.