What Are My Career Options in Purchasing?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in purchasing. Read on to learn more about career options along with job responsibilities, salary statistics, and education requirements. Schools offering Procurement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Career in Purchasing Entail?

A career in purchasing generally entails being involved in the buying of materials and products for a company or organization. This article discusses three jobs available in purchasing: purchasing agents, buyers, and purchasing managers.

As a purchasing agent, you usually work for a company in trying to find various items or goods that are key to the operation of an organization. Buyers work on behalf of companies and stores to source goods that will be sold directly to consumers. As a purchasing manager, you can expect to manage both buyers and agents and may plan and direct the overall purchasing agenda for the year. Below is a table listing the education requirements, job responsibilities, projected job growth, and salary stats for these three positions.

Purchasing Agent Buyer Purchasing Manager
Degree Required Bachelor's Bachelor's Bachelor's; master's for top-level positions
Key Responsibilities Research suppliers,
monitor sale histories,
consider product quality
Purchase goods for resale,
select merchandise for purchase
Manage purchasing budget,
locate suppliers,
supervise purchasing agents
Job Growth (2014-2024) 0%* 6%* 1%*
Median Salary (2015) $62,220* $52,940* $108,120*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Career Options in Purchasing?

Purchasing professionals work to ensure their company receives the best value for their budgets. You can find a purchasing career in a variety of industries, such as agriculture, retail and business. Related job titles can include purchasing agent, buyer and purchasing manger.

As a purchasing agent, you may work on behalf of a company to locate goods and services. For example, a purchasing agent employed by a technology firm purchases computers and other equipment for use by the company. In this position, you can expect to research suppliers, monitor the sales history of specific products and consider the quality of products.

Working as a buyer requires purchasing goods for resale or to the general public. You will be responsible for selecting merchandise by using research and data on consumer needs.

You can expect to manage the purchasing budget, locate international suppliers and supervise a team of purchasing agents as a manager. In some positions, you may be responsible for creating and implementing purchasing procedures, as well as interviewing prospective suppliers.

What Type of Training Will I Need?

Although not required for all purchasing careers, obtaining a bachelor's degree can be beneficial for most positions. You may also need a master's degree if you want to become a manager or supervisor. Related bachelor's and master's degree programs are available in supply chain management, economics and operations technology.

You can study a variety of topics, such as logistics, negotiations, finance and distribution. Depending on the position, you may also need to complete on-the-job training.

How Much Might I Earn?

Your median salary in a purchasing career will depend on your education, training and experience. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that purchasing managers earned a median salary of $108,120 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also noted that buyers in the wholesale and retail industries earned a median of $52,940 in the same year, while purchasing agents earned a median of $62,220.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

You may also be interested in a job as an advertising, promotions, and marketing manager. This job, which generally will require a bachelor's degree, involves planning various campaigns and programs that highlight a particular product or service in order to bring public attention to it. This may include designing artistic and creative advertising campaigns and releasing statements to the press.

Another option is a job as a financial clerk, which only requires a high school diploma. Financial clerks are responsible for keeping records of financial transactions for a company, interacting with customers, and performing financial transactions. Logisticians also have some similarities to purchasing careers. They sometimes oversee a company's purchases, along with managing other logistics like design, inventory and transportation. Logisticians most commonly need a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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