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Purchasing Manager Career Guide

Do you fancy a fast-paced, high flying career? With great travel opportunities and the capacity to earn lots of money?

Well, look no further, as a career as a purchasing manager may right for you!

Purchasing managers are responsible for leading a team of purchasing staff (e.g., agents or buyers) and they must procure the best quality goods and services, at the best price, for resale or for company use. To become a purchasing manager, you will firstly need to achieve a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business, finance or supply management. You will then need substantial experience in the purchasing field (e.g., as a  buyer or purchasing agent position). 

We need professional procurement because it delivers greater benefits than it costs and it helps business and government better manage business decisions.

Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply

Purchasing Manager Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Purchasing Manager Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Purchasing Manager field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33974 Buyer Female 44 $30,000 spring hill, FL 01/01/2010
33857 Contract Specialist Female 29 $75,000 Voorhees, NY 01/01/2010
32940 Procurement Card Administrator Male 47 $46,000 Amite, LA 01/01/2010
32424 Buyer Female 38 $49,000 Plantation, FL 01/01/2010
32405 Sr. Media Buyer/Planner Female 26 $41,500 Dallas, TX 01/01/2010

Overview

What a purchasing manager actually does

Purchasing managers are responsible for buying the best quality equipment, goods and services, at the most competitive prices. They lead a team of buyers and purchasing agents that are responsible for procuring goods and services for resale or for company use. Purchasing managers can work in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing and retail. Their main duties and responsibilities include:

  • Developing and implementing purchasing strategies
  • Managing daily purchasing activities
  • Supervising staff in the purchasing/procurement team
  • Evaluating potential suppliers on the basis of the price, quality, and speed of delivery of their products and/or services
  • Interviewing vendors and visiting suppliers’ plants and distribution centers
  • Attending meetings and conferences to learn about new industry trends
  • Analyzing price proposals and financial reports to determine reasonable prices
  • Maintaining and reviewing records of items bought, costs, deliveries, product performance, and inventories
  • Managing supplier relations and making sure they are amicable
  • Negotiating contracts and prices with suppliers
  • Ensuring all procured items meet the required quality standards and specifications
  • Carefully managing purchasing budgets

Why they are needed

Purchasing managers are responsible for overseeing a team of other purchasing staff. It is a complexed and demanding role, that requires a wide range of business skills and commercial expertise. These highly trained people are an invaluable asset to any business. Procurement delivers great benefits than it costs, as procurement managers ensure that businesses can source the highest quality products, whilst keeping costs as low as possible.

Pros and cons of a career as a purchasing manager

Pros:

  • There is a high sense of job satisfaction, as purchasing managers save businesses a great deal of money, all while sourcing the best quality products
  • It is a very important role, as businesses cannot operate cost effectively without purchasing managers
  • You will have a great deal of responsibility and control over your decisions
  • Purchasing managers receives a fairly competitive salary
  • It is a flexible and diverse role, as purchasing managers jobs are available in many industries and in many geographic locations
  • There are excellent travel opportunities for purchasing managers

Cons:

  • Like lots of jobs, there are some tedious and mundane tasks. For instance, purchasing manager will certainly have their share of paperwork and data entry to complete
  • Purchasing managers may face staffing challenges and conflicts
  • Purchasing managers can often work long hours
  • Although the travel opportunities are excellent, it can mean you will be away from home a lot
  • It can be a stressful job as purchasing managers have to manage lots of people and meet the demands and need of the business

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate of Purchasing Managers is expected to grow 3% from 2019 to 2029. This increase in employment is predicted because there will continue to be a need to help procure goods and services for business operations, or for resale to customers.

Career paths

To become a purchasing manager, you will firstly need to achieve a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business, finance or supply management. You will then need substantial experience in the purchasing field (e.g., as a  buyer or purchasing agent position). It would also be beneficial to have experience in other supervisory or management roles because often a purchasing managers duties may overlap with other management functions (e.g., production, planning, logistics, and marketing).

When you start your career as a buyer or purchasing agent, you will typically receive extensive on-the-job training for a few months. During this time, you will learn how to perform basic duties, including monitoring inventory levels and negotiating with suppliers. Furthermore, to become a buyer or purchasing agent, there are several certifications available. Although some employers may require certification, many do not. Most of these certifications involve oral or written exams and have education and work experience requirements. Once you have had substantial experience in this role, you can then progress to become a purchasing managers – you will do similar tasks, as well as overseeing the team and advising them on the best course of action.

Example Job Titles for Purchasing Manager

Below is a list of common job titles in the Purchasing Manager field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a purchasing manager in the United States was $121,110. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $71,450 per annum and the highest 10 percent earned more than $193,400.

The highest paying industry was ‘management of companies and enterprises’, where the annual median salary was $134,080. The government was the second highest paying industry, where the median average salary was $126,050. The third highest paying industry was manufacturing, where the annual median salary is $115,820.

Autonomy and Flexibility

Purchasing managers are the top members of the purchasing team. They are responsible for nearly all the purchasing decisions, and have the final say. Therefore, purchasing managers are likely to have high autonomy. Purchasing managers may have flexibility over the hours they work. However, regardless of whether they have flexible working or not, the hours pick the purchasing manager – it is a demanding job, that requires a lot of manpower. Therefore, flexibility is most likely low.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a purchasing manager, based on average annual salary and the number of jobs available, are:

  1. New Jersey, where the average annual salary is $117,515
  2. Colorado, where the average annual salary is $105,757
  3. Utah, where the average annual salary is $106,478
  4. Washington, where the average annual salary is $110,000
  5. Oregon, where the average annual salary is $105,070

The worst states, according to Zippia, are Alabama, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Work environment

The largest employer of purchasing managers in the United States was the manufacturing industry, which employed 26% of all purchasing managers in 2019. Management of companies and enterprises employed 16%, the government employed 12% and the wholesale trade employed 11%.

Most purchasing managers will work full time in an office. However, a lot of purchasing managers will travel regularly to meet with suppliers or review products.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Purchasing Manager careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Purchasing Manager career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Purchasing Manager.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

Big Five (OCEAN)

Enneagram

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

Personality types

It is likely that successful purchasing managers will be an ESTJ personality type. ENTJ’s, or otherwise known as ‘the executive’ are decisive, confident and firm. They are sticklers for productivity and are eager to take charge and ensure things done correctly. They also like to work in a logical and methodical way. All of these qualities are suited to a purchasing manager, who is in charge of a team and must be able to make confident decisions using logic.

Accomplishment and mastery

The only way to become a purchasing manager is to first achieve a bachelor’s degree and then through hard work, dedication and graft in the purchasing field. Therefore, when a purchasing manager finally secures the role, after a period of time in a buyer or purchasing agent position, they will feel a high sense of accomplishment and mastery. Furthermore, when purchasing managers successful negotiate contracts and secure high quality products for the best possible price (which should be quite often!), purchasing managers will continue to feel a high sense of accomplishment.

Meaning and contribution

Purchasing managers play a very important role in businesses. Although their work won’t save the lives of thousands of starving children, it will ensure that businesses can cut costs and that suppliers get a fair deal. Therefore, from a business perspective, there is high meaning and contribution in a purchasing manager role.

Life fit

Most purchasing managers will work full time. They may often find themselves working overtime and long hours, as well as travelling. Therefore, it can sometimes provide a difficult life fit.

Who will thrive in this career?

If you are an incredibly organized, decisive and confident, then you will do well as a purchasing manager. You should enjoy (and be REALLY good at) leading teams – as the key part of a purchasing managerial job is to oversee the work of buyers and agents.

A good business mindset will help you to thrive as a purchasing manager, as this means you will always be working with the companies best interests at the forefront of your mind. A good eye for numbers will also allow you to thrive as a purchasing manager, as  you will need to develop and adhere to budgets. Typically, attention to detail and impeccable negotiation skills will allow you to thrive as a purchasing manager. This is because purchasing managers will need to check the quality of products, which requires noticing even the smallest of details. They will also need to ensure contracts are correct and negotiate prices and deals.

Who will struggle in this career?

Those who do cannot confidently make decisions may struggle, as purchasing managers will spend a lot of their time deciding which suppliers and/or products to go for. They only have a limited budget, and they must be convinced they have made the right choice. Similarly, purchasing managers must be confident when leading and directing a team. Therefore, if you are not a natural team leader and don’t feel that you could delegate tasks or mentor others, you will struggle as a purchasing manager.

Similarly, those who are not willing to work hard in a lower role first, will struggle with the experience and hard work needed to become a purchasing manager. Finally, those who do not pay attention to detail or who do not have a business mindset may struggle to spot high quality products and negotiate the best deals.

Requirements

Skills and talents

As well as adequate experience in the field, purchasing managers will need skills and talents such as:

  •  Verbal and written communication, as this will allow purchasing managers to successful negotiate contracts, write emails correspondence and keep files up  to date
  • Negotiation skills, as purchasing managers will need to negotiate prices and contracts with suppliers
  • Leadership skills, are purchasing managers oversee teams of other purchasing staff (e.g., buyers or agents)
  • Problem-solving skills, as purchasing managers will need to find solutions when suppliers aren’t agreeing on a correct price or good become unavailable
  • Customer service skills, as purchasing managers will need the interpersonal skills to interact and communicate with clients and suppliers regularly

Education

To become a purchasing manager, you will firstly need to achieve a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business, finance or supply management. You will then need substantial experience in the purchasing field (e.g., as a  buyer or purchasing agent position). It would also be beneficial to have experience in other supervisory or management roles because at the top levels, a purchasing manager duties may overlap with other management functions (e.g., production, planning, logistics, and marketing).

When you start your career as a buyer or purchasing agent, you will typically receive extensive on-the-job training for a few months. During this time, you will learn how to perform their basic duties, including monitoring inventory levels and negotiating with suppliers.

Certifications

Buyer or purchasing agents, which purchasing managers progress from,  have several certifications available to them. Although some employers may require certification, many do not. Most of these certifications involve oral or written exams and have education and work experience requirements.

  • The American Purchasing Society offers the Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) certification, which is valid for 5 years. Candidates initially become eligible, and can renew their certification, through a combination of purchasing-related experience, education, and professional contributions.
  • The APICS offers the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. To achieve this, applicants must have 3 years of relevant business experience or a bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible for the CSCP credential.
  • The Next Level Purchasing Association offers the Senior Professional in Supply Management (SPSM) certification. Although there are no education or work experience requirements, applicants must complete six online courses and pass an SPSM exam.
  • The Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC) offers two certifications for workers in federal, state, and local government. The Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) credential requires applicants to have earned at least an associate’s degree, have at least 3 years of public procurement experience, and to have completed relevant training courses. The Certified Public Purchasing Officer (CPPO) requires applicants to have earned a bachelor’s degree, at least 5 years of public procurement experience, and complete additional training courses. The National Institute of Government Purchasing (NIGP) and the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) offer preparation courses for the UPPCC certification exams.

How to Become

Summary

A career as a purchasing manager is fast-paced, exciting and high pressured. Purchasing managers are responsible for leading a team of purchasing staff (e.g., agents or buyers) and they must procure the best quality goods and services, at the best price, for resale or for company use.

Immediate action

If you are thinking of becoming a purchasing manger, then we recommend considering what degree program you would like to take. Although to get a buyer or agent position you don’t necessarily needs a degree, it will hugely benefit you to have a degree in order to get promoted.

If you have your degree then great! We recommend applying for roles as a buyer or purchasing agent to gather experience!

Education and learning

To become a purchasing manager, you will firstly need to achieve a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business, finance or supply management. You will then need substantial experience in the purchasing field (e.g., as a  buyer or purchasing agent position).

Skill development

Purchasing managers will learn the majority of their skills through the training they receive as a purchasing buyer or agent. They will then put these skills into practice throughout their career. When they secure a management role, they will post likely receive some training from the purchasing manager who is leaving, which will allow them to further progress their skills.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Purchasing Manager careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33974 Buyer Female 44 $30,000 spring hill, FL 01/01/2010
33857 Contract Specialist Female 29 $75,000 Voorhees, NY 01/01/2010
32940 Procurement Card Administrator Male 47 $46,000 Amite, LA 01/01/2010
32424 Buyer Female 38 $49,000 Plantation, FL 01/01/2010
32405 Sr. Media Buyer/Planner Female 26 $41,500 Dallas, TX 01/01/2010

Resources