Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more
- Education Required
- Purchasing managers usually have at least a bachelors degree and some work experience in procurement.
- Training Required
- Buyers and purchasing agents typically get on-the-job training for a few months. During this time, they learn how to perform their basic duties, including monitoring inventory levels and negotiating with suppliers.
- Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: -3% (Decline)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
- An experienced purchasing agent or buyer may become an assistant purchasing manager before advancing to purchasing manager, supply manager, or director of materials management.
- There are several certifications available for buyers and purchasing agents. Although some employers may require certification, many do not.
- Median pay: How much do Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents make?
- $64,850 Annual Salary
- $31.18 per hour
Buyers and purchasing agents buy products and services for organizations to use or resell. They evaluate suppliers, negotiate contracts, and review the quality of products. Purchasing managers oversee the work of buyers and purchasing agents and typically handle more complex procurement tasks.
What do Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents do?
Purchasing managers and buyers and purchasing agents typically do the following:
- Evaluate suppliers on the basis of the price, quality, and speed of delivery of their products and services
- Interview vendors and visit suppliers plants and distribution centers to examine and learn about products, services, and prices
- Attend meetings, trade shows, and conferences to learn about new industry trends and make contacts with suppliers
- Analyze price proposals, financial reports, and other information to determine reasonable prices
- Negotiate contracts on behalf of their organization
- Work out agreements with suppliers, such as when products will be delivered
- Meet with staff and vendors to discuss defective or unacceptable goods or services and determine corrective action
- Evaluate and monitor contracts to be sure that vendors and suppliers comply with the terms and conditions of the contract and to determine the need for changes
- Maintain and review records of items bought, costs, deliveries, product performance, and inventories
In addition to these tasks, purchasing managers also plan and coordinate the work of buyers and purchasing agents and hire and train new staff.
Purchasing managers are also responsible for developing their organizations procurement policies and procedures. These policies help ensure that procurement professionals are meeting ethical standards to avoid potential conflicts of interest or inappropriate supplier and customer relations.
Buyers and purchasing agents buy farm products, durable and nondurable goods, and services for organizations and institutions. They try to get the best deal for their organization: the highest quality goods and services at the lowest cost. They do this by studying sales records and inventory levels of current stock, identifying foreign and domestic suppliers, and keeping up to date with changes affecting both the supply of, and demand for, products and materials.
Purchasing agents and buyers consider price, quality, availability, reliability, and technical support when choosing suppliers and merchandise. To be effective, purchasing agents and buyers must have a working technical knowledge of the goods or services they are purchasing.
Evaluating suppliers is one of the most critical functions of a buyer or purchasing agent. They ensure the supplies are ordered in time so that any delays in the supply chain does not shut down production and cause the organization to lose customers.
Buyers and purchasing agents use many resources to find out all they can about potential suppliers. They attend meetings, trade shows, and conferences to learn about new industry trends and make contacts with suppliers.
They often interview prospective suppliers and visit their plants and distribution centers to assess their capabilities. For example, they may discuss the design of products with design engineers, quality concerns with production supervisors, or shipping issues with managers in the receiving department.
Buyers and purchasing agents must make certain that the supplier can deliver the desired goods or services on time, in the correct quantities, and without sacrificing quality. Once they have gathered information on suppliers, they sign contracts with suppliers who meet the organizations needs and they place orders.
Buyers who purchase items to resell to customers may determine which products their organization will sell. They need to be able to predict what will appeal to their customers. If they are wrong, they could jeopardize the profits and reputation of their organization.
Buyers who work for large organizations often specialize in purchasing one or two categories of products or services. Buyers who work for smaller businesses or government agencies may be responsible for making a greater variety of purchases.
The following are examples of types of buyers and purchasing agents:
Careers for Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents
- Cattle buyers
- Contract administrators
- Contract specialists
- Contracting managers
- Cotton brokers
- Directors of strategic sourcing
- Equipment, supplies, and tools purchasing agents
- Fruit buyers
- Gold buyers
- Grain buyers
- Hog buyers
- Livestock buyers
- Merchandise buyers
- Oyster buyers
- Procurement managers
- Purchasing agents
- Purchasing agents and buyers of farm products
- Purchasing agents, cotton, grain, livestock, other farm products
- Purchasing agents, except wholesale, retail, and farm products
- Purchasing directors
- Purchasing managers
- Radio time buyers
- Retail buyers
- Sourcing managers
- Tie buyers
- Tobacco buyers
- Wholesale and retail buyers
- Wholesale buyers