Majors for Aspiring Buyers: Salary and Career Facts

Buyers or purchasing agents research and anticipate consumer trends, monitor sales and locate materials or products. Find out which college majors are most relevant to aspiring buyers, as well as the career options and salary potential found in this line of work. Schools offering Fashion Design & Merchandising degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Buyer?

Buyers are in charge of going out and buying the materials and equipment companies need to operate. They need to have strong knowledge of the options available to shop for the most functional and cost-effective option. It is beneficial in this career to build relationships, since negotiating prices is a key part of success. In some cases, buyers may have to go out, inspect and pick up products they are buying for their company. This may require a considerable amount of travel. Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Business, finance, or supply management
Key Responsibilities Negotiate prices, purchase supplies and equipment, inspect and pick up purchased goods
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 2%*
Median Salary (2015) $59,620*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Majors are Available for Aspiring Buyers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), larger organizations look for buyers and purchasing agents who have earned at least a bachelor's degree. However, new employees are still expected to work with experienced purchasing professionals to learn an employer's business operations, supply needs and markets. As of January 2011, a handful of U.S. schools were offering bachelor's degrees in purchasing and supply management.

In most of these programs, you'll learn how to source materials on a local, regional, national and global scale. You could learn how to evaluate vendors and assess the quality of their products. Additional courses may include business statistics, accounting, purchasing management fundamentals, supply channels, market segments and consumer behavior. Bachelor's programs usually take four years to complete.

Where Can I Work as a Buyer?

Your potential employers include any business entity that purchases raw materials to manufacture goods or produce food. Some buyers in the retail sector purchase manufactured goods in bulk and sell them to the public. The BLS notes that approximately 443,200 people in the U.S. worked as buyers or purchasing agents in 2014. The BLS predicted that employment of buyers and purchasing agents would grow by two percent from 2014-2024.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

As a buyer or purchasing agent, you'll be expected to conduct research into market trends and consumer interests. You'll also need to monitor the inventory and sales levels of your employer, changes in government regulations and general economic conditions. You might consult with sales personnel on purchasing decisions. If you work for a small organization, you could be responsible for that firm's entire product line; you might specialize in one or two lines at mid-size or large firms, as reported by the BLS.

How Much Can I Earn?

According to Payscale.com, the middle range of buyers earned an annual salary of $37,574 - $74,811 in 2016. However, salaries have some variability from one industry to the next. For example, the BLS reported in 2015 that buyers and purchasing agents of farm products made a median salary of $56,270, while buyers of non wholesale, retail or farm products made a median of salary of $62,220.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related to a career in buying, individuals may want to look into careers as advertising, promotions, and marketing managers. These professionals are responsible for planning promotional programs and supervising the promotional teem they work with. This career path typically requires a bachelor's degree. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks have another related career that involves keeping track of a business's financial records and ensures that they are accurate. This career often requires little more than a college certificate or a few college courses related to accounting. Financial managers are responsible for researching investment opportunities and making profitable investment decisions for a company. While a bachelor's degree and work experience can lead to work in financial management, a master's degree is often beneficial.

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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