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Purchasing Management - Buyers, and Purchasing Agents

Purchasing management is all about acquiring materials and resources for organizations for the best possible prices. Those individuals who become purchasing managers must be skillful negotiators who are committed to building relationships with suppliers in order to ensure that the quality of goods purchased is up to par, as well as that the price paid ensures the greatest profits for the organization for which one works.

What to Expect

A purchasing manager’s work is primarily to act as a liaison between organizations and the suppliers with whom those organizations must do work. For instance, a purchasing manager working for a farming organization may well have to purchase from farming supply providers, seed providers, and so on. A purchasing manager working for an automobile manufacturer may have to purchase raw steel, plastic, leather, and other materials from outside suppliers, as well as specialized items such as wires, computer chips, and so on. The bottom line is that organizations have a need of such goods, and they need to acquire them at the lowest price possible if they are to retain a competitive advantage. Therefore, individuals who work in purchasing management need to be highly knowledgeable about not only the needs of their organization, but the average costs associated with the industry and the supplies needed, as well as what suppliers represent the best value to the organization. He or she must also be prepared to engage in quality communication on a daily basis, building and maintaining critical professional relationships.

Education, Training, and Certification

Because the field of purchasing management is so varied, so too are the educational requirements associated with the position. Purchasing managers working with everyday retailers or department stores are generally expected to have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline such as business or finances, whereas those working for high-end organizations such as manufacturing firms may well be required to have even more formal training, such as a master’s degree. What is most important however is that the purchasing manager be willing and ready to learn the specifics of the organization for which he or she works.

Employment Options

Those who work in purchasing management may fulfill any number of critical organizational roles. Purchasing managers may act as wholesale and retail buyers, purchasing goods and materials to fill organizational needs. Purchasing agents on the other hand may deal with more specialized commodities that are intended for retail, such as grain, tobacco, and so on. Specializing purchasing managers known as “buyers” have even greater responsibility – in addition to coordinating profitable purchases, they are charged with determining what products their organization will sell in the first place. For instance, those working in department stores may travel to fashion shows or trade shows to select items which seem as if they will perform well for the organization, and then broker profitable purchases of said items.

Employment Outlook

Purchasing management is a field that is expected to grow somewhat in the future, but it must be stated that the rate of growth is slower than the average, coming in at roughly 7%. Whatever the case, those who seek a position in this field should be able to find one providing they have the appropriate qualifications and desire to move to where the positions are.

Projected Salary

Purchasing management is a highly specialized discipline, and those who work in it are generally well compensated to reflect the degree of responsibility and expertise they must wield. The medial salary for the field is $89,160, with specific salaries determined by the types of goods that one is charged with seeking out, and the size and scope of the organization in question.

The editors of McGraw-Hill and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Big Book of Jobs, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2012-2013 ©2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies,  Material "Adapted"

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