Supply chain management is one of the most important — and potentially most complex — business processes, particularly in an increasingly connected and global economy. The acquisition of key resources is crucial to the bottom line of manufacturers and other organizations, and they rely on skilled purchasing managers to help them thrive.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in procurement, keep reading to learn more about what a purchasing manager is, what skills you need to succeed, and the path you’d need to take to become one.
Purchasing manager job description
So, what is a purchasing manager? Otherwise known as a supply manager or purchasing director, a purchasing manager buys whatever products or raw materials an organization needs, usually for resale or the manufacturing of new products. Purchasing managers are integral to any business that needs goods or services to operate.
Exact responsibilities may differ depending on the industry, but they generally include researching possible vendors, negotiating contracts, managing requisitions, and analyzing the market to identify future trends and the availability of material assets. The position demands expert communication with both clients as well as internal team members.
Key purchasing manager skills
Success for a purchasing manager can take different forms, and, because of that, they must master many types of skills. A sharp understanding of the goods and services their organization needs is, of course, critical to success. Other required areas of expertise include:
● Interpersonal skills. Purchasing managers must maintain many key relationships, both inside and outside their organizations.
● Vendor evaluation. The ability to recognize the value of individual suppliers and the reliability of their processes is important in creating successful professional relationships.
● Outreach. Sometimes a purchasing manager is required to attend conferences or trade shows to collect information, present trends in their industry, and network with suppliers.
● Interview prowess. A purchasing manager is expected to interview potential suppliers and visit their distribution centers to evaluate their capabilities. This generally includes a discussion of any quality, shipping, and design concerns.
Steps to become a purchasing manager
Obtaining a position as a purchasing manager requires gaining the right kind of education to set yourself up for success in the job market. Licenses, certifications, and registrations may be required, depending on the policies of the employer and the particular industry in which they operate.
The first step in becoming a purchasing manager is earning a bachelor’s degree. While there is room for flexibility, in most cases, a degree in supply management, business, or finance will improve your chances of landing a job.
Before becoming a purchasing manager, you’ll generally need to gain experience in the field. This experience often comes in the form of five or more years as a full-time buyer or purchasing agent. As your involvement increases with each procurement assignment, you’ll better understand the nuances of the process and gain insight from peers and current purchasing managers within your organization.
Licensing and certification
If you’re looking to work for a specific employer, you should check if that employer has any licensing or certification requirements. Several certifications are available, which can usually be obtained by completing an oral or written exam once you’ve met certain educational and work experience prerequisites.
The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) is just one dispenser of certifications in the field. Its SCPro program has three levels, evaluating over half a dozen areas of knowledge. In earning the SCPro certification, you prove your expertise in supply chain management and logistics, which could increase your chances of securing a higher-paying position.
Purchasing manager job outlook and salary
Understanding what the future holds for a prospective career path is always important. Because of their similar responsibilities and job outlook projections, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents in the same occupational category.
Although procurement technology is displacing some lower-level purchasing positions, jobs for purchasing managers are expected to increase. The BLS projects 3% growth in total purchasing manager positions between 2019 and 2029. The need for professionals to help procure goods and services for customer resale and business operations remains strong.
The median salary for purchasing managers in May 2019 was $121,110, according to the BLS, with the lowest earners making less than $71,000 and the highest earners making more than $194,000.
When determining which sector to work for, the expected income differences are worth considering. These were the median salaries for purchasing managers in top-paying industries in May 2019, according to the BLS:
● Wholesale trade – $113,520
● Manufacturing – $115,820
● Government – $126,050
● Management of companies and enterprises – $134,080
Discover if a purchasing manager career is right for you
An organization’s supply chain influences almost every aspect of its business, from revenue and profit to product quality, customer satisfaction, and corporate reputation. The purchasing manager is a key link in that chain.
If you are interested in learning more about the procurement field and finding a program that can put you on the path to a purchasing manager role, Pearson Pathways can help. Use our recommendation engine to find program options that match your needs and career goals.