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Become An Associate Buyer

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Working As An Associate Buyer

  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $53,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Associate Buyer Do

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.

Duties

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 supplies 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

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. Many organizations run on a lean manufacturing schedule and use just-in-time inventories, so any delays in the supply chain can 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 organization’s 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.

Wholesale and retail buyers purchase goods for resale to consumers. Examples of these goods are clothing and electronics. Purchasing specialists who buy finished goods for resale are commonly known as buyers or merchandise managers.

Purchasing agents and buyers of farm products buy agricultural products for further processing or resale. Examples of these products are grain, cotton, and tobacco.

Purchasing agents, except wholesale, retail, and farm products buy items for the operation of an organization. Examples of these items are chemicals and industrial equipment needed for a manufacturing establishment, and office supplies.

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How To Become An Associate Buyer

Although a high school diploma may be sufficient for some positions, many employers require buyers and purchasing agents to have a bachelor’s degree. Most entry-level positions require some form of on-the-job training.

Education

Educational requirements usually vary with the size of the organization. Although a high school diploma may be enough at some organizations, many businesses require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. For many positions, a degree in business, finance, or supply management is sufficient.

For those interested in a career as a buyer or purchasing agent of farm products, a degree in agriculture, agriculture production, or animal science is often beneficial.

Training

Buyers and purchasing agents typically get on-the-job training for more than 1 year. During this time, they learn how to perform their basic duties, including monitoring inventory levels and negotiating with suppliers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

There are several certifications available for buyers and purchasing agents. Although some employers require certification, many do not.

Most of these certifications involve oral or written exams and have education and work experience requirements.

The Institute for Supply Management offers the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) credential, which covers a wide scope of purchasing professional duties. To receive the CPSM credential, candidates must pass three exams and those with a bachelor’s degree must possess at least 3 years of relevant work experience while those without a bachelor’s degree must have at least 5 years of relevant work experience.

The American Purchasing Society offers the Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) certification. The CPP certification is valid for 5 years. Candidates must earn a certain number of professional development “points” to renew their certification. Candidates initially become eligible and can renew their certification through a combination of purchasing-related experience, education, and professional contributions (such as published articles or delivered speeches).

APICS offers the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. Applicants must have 3 years of relevant business experience or a bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible for the CSCP credential. The credential is valid for 5 years. Candidates must also earn a certain number of professional development points to renew their certification.

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. Certification is valid for 4 years. Candidates must complete 32 continuing education hours in procurement-related topics to recertify for an additional four-year period.

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, possess at least 3 years of public procurement experience, and complete relevant training courses. The Certified Public Purchasing Officer (CPPO) requires applicants to have earned a bachelor’s degree, possess at least 5 years of public procurement experience, and complete additional training courses.

Those with the CPPB or the CPPO designation must renew their certification every 5 years by completing continuing education courses or attending procurement-related conferences or events.

The National Institute of Government Purchasing (NIGP), Institute for Public Procurement offers preparation courses for the UPPCC certification exams.

Advancement

An experienced purchasing agent or buyer may become an assistant purchasing manager before advancing to purchasing manager, supply manager, or director of materials management. Buyers and purchasing agents with extensive work experience can also advance to become the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) for an organization.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. When evaluating suppliers, buyers and purchasing agents must analyze their options and choose a supplier with the best combination of price, quality, delivery, or service. 

Decisionmaking skills. Buyers and purchasing agents must have the ability to make informed and timely decisions, choosing products that they think will sell.

Math skills. Buyers and purchasing agents must possess basic math skills. They must be able to compare prices from different suppliers to ensure that their organization is getting the best deal. 

Negotiating skills. Buyers and purchasing agents often must negotiate the terms of a contract with a supplier. Interpersonal skills and self-confidence, in addition to knowledge of the product, can help lead to successful negotiations.

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Associate Buyer jobs

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Associate Buyer Career Paths

Associate Buyer
Product Manager District Sales Manager
Brand Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Product Manager Purchasing Manager
Director Of Global Sourcing
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Buyer Purchasing Manager
Director Of Purchasing
10 Yearsyrs
Purchasing Manager Program Manager General Manager
Director Of Sales
10 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Sales Manager Purchasing Manager
Director Of Sourcing
13 Yearsyrs
Buyer Purchasing Manager
Director, Procurement
13 Yearsyrs
Planner/Buyer Senior Buyer
Material Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Merchandise Planner Merchandising Manager
Merchandising Director
9 Yearsyrs
Merchandising Manager General Manager Account Manager
National Account Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Purchasing Agent Operations Manager Account Executive
National Sales Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Buyer Senior Buyer Material Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Planner Planner/Buyer Purchasing Manager
Procurement Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Planner Planning Manager Purchasing Manager
Project Procurement Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Buyer Material Manager
Purchasing Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Purchasing Manager General Manager Account Executive
Regional Sales Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Merchandising Manager Operations Manager Account Executive
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Planner/Buyer Material Manager Purchasing Manager
Senior Manager, Procurement
11 Yearsyrs
Product Manager Sales Manager Purchasing Manager
Senior Purchasing Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Merchandise Planner Planning Manager Supply Chain Manager
Supply Chain Director
14 Yearsyrs
Purchasing Agent Office Manager Account Manager
Territory Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Senior Buyer 5.1 years
Merchandise Buyer 4.5 years
Retail Buyer 4.4 years
Purchasing Buyer 4.2 years
Produce Buyer 4.2 years
Purchasing Agent 4.0 years
Corporate Buyer 3.9 years
Planner/Buyer 3.8 years
Plant Buyer 3.8 years
Buyer 3.8 years
Technical Buyer 3.8 years
Cotton Buyer 3.8 years
Print Buyer 3.7 years
Procurement Buyer 3.4 years
Contractor Buyer 3.3 years
Buyer Lead 3.3 years
Strategic Buyer 3.3 years
Buyer/Expeditor 3.2 years
Associate Buyer 3.0 years
Stock Buyer 3.0 years
Assistant Buyer 2.7 years
Junior Buyer/Buyer 2.4 years
Fashion Buyer 2.3 years
Gold Buyer 1.9 years
Top Employers Before
Buyer 9.2%
Internship 5.4%
Manager 2.4%
Cashier 1.8%
Top Employers After
Buyer 32.3%
Senior Buyer 10.8%
Manager 3.2%
Planner 2.4%

Associate Buyer Demographics

Gender

Female

68.1%

Male

29.9%

Unknown

2.0%
Ethnicity

White

79.8%

Hispanic or Latino

9.8%

Asian

8.4%

Unknown

1.5%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

36.7%

French

12.0%

Mandarin

10.1%

Chinese

7.0%

Italian

6.3%

Japanese

5.1%

Korean

4.4%

Cantonese

3.2%

Vietnamese

2.5%

Russian

2.5%

German

1.9%

Polish

1.9%

Yoruba

1.3%

Carrier

1.3%

Hmong

0.6%

Hindi

0.6%

Catalan

0.6%

Armenian

0.6%

Tamil

0.6%

Filipino

0.6%
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Associate Buyer Education

Schools

Fashion Institute of Technology

26.1%

University of Phoenix

9.6%

Syracuse University

5.5%

University of Delaware

5.5%

Michigan State University

4.1%

Pennsylvania State University

4.1%

Iowa State University

3.8%

University of Wisconsin - Stout

3.6%

Northern Illinois University

3.6%

Indiana University Bloomington

3.6%

University of Connecticut

3.3%

Johnson & Wales University

3.3%

Purdue University

3.3%

Northeastern University

3.3%

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising

3.0%

Ohio State University

3.0%

Fordham University

3.0%

University of Rhode Island

2.7%

San Francisco State University

2.7%

Montclair State University

2.7%
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Majors

Business

34.4%

Marketing

12.7%

Specialized Sales And Merchandising

11.1%

Management

5.1%

Communication

4.1%

Supply Chain Management

4.1%

Accounting

3.9%

Psychology

3.3%

Finance

3.1%

Graphic Design

2.3%

Economics

2.1%

Apparel And Textiles

1.9%

Family And Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences Business Services

1.7%

English

1.7%

Political Science

1.5%

Sociology

1.5%

Criminal Justice

1.5%

Education

1.4%

Fine Arts

1.3%

General Studies

1.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

56.9%

Other

15.2%

Masters

12.7%

Associate

9.6%

Certificate

3.7%

Doctorate

0.9%

Diploma

0.5%

License

0.4%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Associate Buyer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Associate, Programmatic Buying-North America Netflix, Inc. Los Gatos, CA Mar 19, 2014 $110,000
Associate Buyer Williams-Sonoma, Inc. New York, NY Dec 10, 2016 $108,493
Associate Buyer Sears Holdings Management Corporation Hoffman Estates, IL Jun 09, 2014 $91,875
Associate Buyer Sears Holdings Management Corporation Hoffman Estates, IL Aug 23, 2010 $87,500
Associate Buyer MODA Operandi Inc. New York, NY Mar 21, 2016 $80,000
Associate Buyer Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation Lyndhurst, NJ Nov 15, 2010 $75,000
Associate Buyer-Retail Textile Williams-Sonoma, Inc. New York, NY Aug 08, 2014 $71,282 -
$91,800
Associate Buyer Saks & Company LLC New York, NY Sep 27, 2016 $70,000
Associate Buyer Saks & Company LLC New York, NY Aug 23, 2015 $70,000
Associate Buyer Valentino USA New York, NY Apr 13, 2015 $68,000
Associate Buyer Hugo Boss Fashions, Inc. New York, NY Apr 27, 2015 $67,600
Associate Buyer Williams-Sonoma, Inc. New York, NY Aug 04, 2015 $60,200 -
$91,800
Associate Buyer Williams-Sonoma, Inc. New York, NY Mar 25, 2015 $60,200 -
$91,800
Associate Buyer Williams-Sonoma, Inc. New York, NY Apr 08, 2015 $60,200 -
$91,800
Associate Buyer Cache Inc. New York, NY Jul 18, 2011 $60,000 -
$70,000
Purchasing Associate GK Trading LLC New York, NY Apr 11, 2015 $58,436
Associate Buyer Sears Holdings Management Corporation Hoffman Estates, IL Aug 26, 2012 $58,240 -
$87,500
Associate Buyer Francesca's Collections, Inc. Houston, TX Mar 09, 2016 $58,000
Associate Buyer, Supply Chain TRIS Pharma, Inc. Monmouth Junction, NJ Sep 15, 2016 $50,544
Associate Buyer C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. Dayton, NJ Jun 10, 2013 $50,000
Associate Inventory Buyer L.L. Bean Inc. Freeport, ME Oct 01, 2010 $50,000
Associate Buyer Eminent Inc. Cerritos, CA Jun 01, 2013 $50,000
Associate Buyer TMW Merchants, LLC Fremont, CA Sep 09, 2016 $50,000
Associate Buyer-Men's Wovens Urban Outfitters, Inc. Philadelphia, PA Aug 30, 2015 $45,090
Omni Associate Buyer Macy's Merchandising Corporation New York, NY Oct 01, 2015 $44,637 -
$77,100
Purchasing Associate East Coast Traders, Inc. Clifton, NJ Oct 15, 2009 $42,598
Associate Buyer Urban Outfitters, Inc. Philadelphia, PA Sep 09, 2014 $42,500
Associate Buyer, Men's Accessories Urban Outfitters, Inc. Philadelphia, PA Aug 30, 2013 $42,500

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Top Skills for An Associate Buyer

VendorRelationsPurchaseOrdersOfficeSuppliesNewMerchandiseCustomerServiceOpen-To-BuyInventoryLevelsProductDevelopmentGrowthSKUProductLinesAssortmentPlansApparelPaymentTermsOTBPrivateLabelCostSavingsInventoryManagementProductAssortmentLogistics

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Top Associate Buyer Skills

  1. Vendor Relations
  2. Purchase Orders
  3. Office Supplies
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Established and maintained vendor relationships, ensured timely merchandise shipments and monitored vendor contracts for compliance.
  • Analyzed inventory and consumption data in order to suggest reorder quantities and create Purchase Orders for Assigned vendors.
  • Negotiated contract terms and conditions with the awarded supplier for office supplies.
  • Team player in the creation of new merchandise and updating existing merchandise for the product line.
  • Handle, provide and acquire current accurate pricing for sales force, customer service and purchasing department.

Top Associate Buyer Employers

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