Where do you want to work?
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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Associate Buyer
Top Careers After Associate Buyer
Hispanic or Latino9.8%
Black or African American0.6%
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Fashion Institute of Technology26.1%
University of Phoenix9.6%
University of Delaware5.5%
Michigan State University4.1%
Pennsylvania State University4.1%
Iowa State University3.8%
University of Wisconsin - Stout3.6%
Northern Illinois University3.6%
Indiana University Bloomington3.6%
University of Connecticut3.3%
Johnson & Wales University3.3%
Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising3.0%
Ohio State University3.0%
University of Rhode Island2.7%
San Francisco State University2.7%
Montclair State University2.7%
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|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|
|SR. Associate Buyer/Planner||Life Technologies Corporation||South San Francisco, CA||Sep 09, 2014||$82,846 -
|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 -
|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 -
|Associate Buyer||Williams-Sonoma, Inc.||New York, NY||Mar 25, 2015||$60,200 -
|Associate Buyer||Williams-Sonoma, Inc.||New York, NY||Apr 08, 2015||$60,200 -
|Associate Buyer||Cache Inc.||New York, NY||Jul 18, 2011||$60,000 -
|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 -
|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 -
|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|
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