How Do I Become a Purchasing Manager?

If you are good with numbers, enjoy making deals and weigh considerations carefully when shopping, you may be wondering how to become a purchasing manager. Purchasing managers assist businesses and organizations in acquiring the products they need to use or sell by researching suppliers, negotiating payments and recording quality and pricing information for future use. Purchasing managers may also be called purchasing directors, contract specialists, contract managers or supply managers.

As the name implies, purchasing managers typically fill supervisory positions in which they oversee the work of purchasing agents and buyers. Most purchasing managers find work in manufacturing industries, management and wholesale trade industries, though others work for government agencies. Among the most common items that purchasing managers must obtain are farm products, though acquiring a number of other goods and services may also fall under the domain of a purchasing manager.

When purchasing products for a business, every expense affects profits, so purchasing managers and agents must investigate to determine which product best fits the company’s needs and standards of quality for the best price. Purchasing managers assess the benefits of working with different suppliers, taking into consideration product quality, shipping speed and cost. In manufacturing businesses, especially, receiving products in a reasonable amount of time is important for preventing delays that may cost the company money. Sometimes, this research requires purchasing managers to talk extensively with supplier representatives or even visit suppliers’ locations. Purchasing managers network with potential suppliers, often initiating conversations during industry conferences, trade shows and seminars.

Purchasing managers negotiate payments, delivery procedures and contracts with suppliers. When problems arise, such as receiving defective or damaged products, it is the purchasing manager’s responsibility to work with the supplier to resolve the problem.

To attain a position as a purchasing professional, candidates should pursue the appropriate level of education. Though small organizations will consider candidates with only a high school diploma for entry-level positions as purchasing agents, larger organizations require a college degree even for these entry-level roles. To earn a promotion into a purchasing manager role, a college degree is often required, as well as five or more years of professional experience in a purchasing role. Candidates typically study economics, business, engineering or a related field. Aspiring purchasing managers may also choose to seek certification from the American Purchasing Society, the Association for Operations Management, and the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing.

Careers in purchasing offer significant earning potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that purchasing managers earned a median annual salary of $95,070 in 2010, and even lower-level purchasing agents and buyers earned between $49,650 and $56,580 each year. The earnings for professionals in these occupations are significantly higher than the $33,840 median annual salary for all occupations. Purchasing managers also enjoy travel opportunities. If you are a skilled negotiator and enjoy analyzing prices and making decisions, knowing how to become a purchasing manager could be the first step toward the beginning of a rewarding new career.

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