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Become A Buyer

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Working As A Buyer

  • Getting Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Repetitive

  • $62,400

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 A 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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Buyer Jobs

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Buyer Career Paths

Buyer
Product Manager Sales Manager Purchasing Manager
Director Of Global Sourcing
12 Yearsyrs
Planner/Buyer Senior Buyer Purchasing Manager
Director Of Purchasing
10 Yearsyrs
Product Manager Operations Manager Purchasing Manager
Director Of Sourcing
13 Yearsyrs
Material Manager Operations Manager Purchasing Manager
Director Of Strategic Sourcing
13 Yearsyrs
Planner/Buyer Purchasing Manager
Director, Procurement
13 Yearsyrs
Purchasing Manager Program Manager
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Operations Manager Supply Chain Manager
Global Supply Chain Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Operations Manager Equipment Operator Production Supervisor
Material Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Contracts Administrator Senior Purchasing Agent Material Manager
Material Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Owner Merchandiser Merchandising Manager
Merchandising Director
9 Yearsyrs
Purchasing Manager General Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Procurement Agent Program Manager Marketing Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Account Manager Sales Manager Purchasing Manager
Procurement Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Account Manager Product Manager Purchasing Manager
Project Procurement Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Buyer Material Manager
Purchasing Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Product Manager Purchasing Manager
Senior Manager, Procurement
11 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Engineering Manager Purchasing Manager
Senior Purchasing Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Material Manager Manufacturing Manager Purchasing Manager
Senior Sourcing Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Procurement Agent Supply Chain Manager
Supply Chain Director
14 Yearsyrs
Senior Buyer Purchasing Manager
Supply Chain Manager
10 Yearsyrs
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Buyer Demographics

Gender

Female

55.5%

Male

42.4%

Unknown

2.0%
Ethnicity

White

61.9%

Hispanic or Latino

15.7%

Black or African American

10.7%

Asian

8.2%

Unknown

3.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

48.5%

French

9.6%

Mandarin

7.4%

Chinese

6.8%

German

4.7%

Japanese

3.4%

Italian

3.4%

Portuguese

2.8%

Cantonese

2.2%

Korean

2.0%

Russian

1.5%

Carrier

1.5%

Vietnamese

1.4%

Arabic

1.2%

Hindi

1.1%

Urdu

0.6%

Turkish

0.6%

Tagalog

0.6%

Polish

0.5%

Swedish

0.4%
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Buyer Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

26.2%

Michigan State University

7.0%

University of Houston

6.1%

Fashion Institute of Technology

5.9%

Arizona State University

4.8%

Pennsylvania State University

4.4%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.1%

Strayer University

3.9%

San Jose State University

3.7%

University of North Texas

3.5%

Webster University

3.4%

Northeastern University

3.4%

Western Michigan University

3.1%

Wayne State University

3.1%

Purdue University

3.1%

Liberty University

2.9%

Central Michigan University

2.9%

Ohio State University

2.9%

Kaplan University

2.8%

Ashford University

2.8%
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Majors

Business

45.4%

Marketing

6.6%

Management

6.0%

Accounting

6.0%

Supply Chain Management

4.9%

Communication

3.2%

Finance

3.0%

Psychology

2.6%

Specialized Sales And Merchandising

2.3%

General Studies

2.0%

Criminal Justice

2.0%

Liberal Arts

2.0%

Education

2.0%

Computer Science

2.0%

English

1.9%

Political Science

1.8%

Health Care Administration

1.6%

Economics

1.6%

Human Resources Management

1.5%

Graphic Design

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

46.2%

Other

23.2%

Masters

14.2%

Associate

10.5%

Certificate

4.3%

Diploma

1.0%

Doctorate

0.5%

License

0.3%
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Real Buyer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Buyer Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. Union, NJ Aug 09, 2016 $175,000
Buyer III The TJX Companies, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Apr 08, 2016 $135,000
Buyer III The TJX Companies, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Oct 18, 2016 $135,000
Procurement Specialist Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation Savannah, GA Aug 03, 2016 $124,530
Women's Buyer YVES Saint Laurent America, Inc. New York, NY Jan 15, 2016 $120,000
Buyer II The TJX Companies, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Oct 19, 2016 $118,371
Buyer The TJX Companies, Inc. New York, NY Sep 10, 2015 $115,000
Buyer, Women's Collection Calvin Klein, Inc. New York, NY May 09, 2016 $115,000
Buyer-Men's Shoes Urban Outfitters, Inc. Philadelphia, PA Jun 08, 2015 $115,000
Advanced Purchasing Coordinator (Electronics) Automotive Lighting LLC Auburn Hills, MI Nov 15, 2016 $108,576
Procurement Specialist Broadband Telcom Power Inc. Santa Ana, CA Jun 05, 2016 $107,266
Strategic Procurement Specialist Accenture LLP Houston, TX Aug 21, 2015 $100,300
Strategic Procurement Specialist Accenture LLP King of Prussia, PA Aug 21, 2015 $100,300
Buyer III Dresser-Rand Company Olean, NY Aug 25, 2015 $70,179 -
$97,900
Buyer (Purchasing Agent) Reckitt Benckiser LLC Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ Dec 08, 2016 $70,000
Procurement Specialist Schlumberger Technology Corporation Sugar Land, TX Aug 29, 2015 $69,758
Buyer 2 Permasteelisa North America Corp Windsor, CT Sep 18, 2015 $69,534
Buyer 3 ASML Us, Inc. Wilton, CT Sep 25, 2016 $69,364
Specialist Procurement CBU II Kautex Inc. Troy, MI Feb 11, 2016 $69,000
Buyer Pacific Northern, Inc. Carrollton, TX Sep 03, 2015 $68,994
Buyer Pacific Northern, Inc. Carrollton, TX Sep 04, 2015 $68,994
Buyer Monsanto Company Saint Louis, MO Aug 13, 2015 $56,732
Procurement Specialist Omnivision Technologies, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Oct 10, 2016 $56,400
Buyer III Lennox Industries, Inc. Grenada, MS Jan 09, 2016 $56,000 -
$84,000
Buyer Four K Fashion, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Apr 23, 2015 $55,952
Indirect Procurement Specialist A.M. Castle and Co. Oak Brook, IL Sep 08, 2015 $55,524
Buyer Phelps Dodge Refining Corporation El Paso, TX Aug 29, 2016 $55,500
Purchasing Coordinator American Future Technology Corp. Dba Ibuypower Industry, CA Apr 05, 2016 $55,453
Natural Stone Buyer FBR Marble, Inc. Long Beach, CA May 07, 2016 $55,162

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Top Skills for A Buyer

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  1. Office Supplies
  2. Purchase
  3. Vendors
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Purchased products for maintenance, repair and operations including raw materials, tooling, machinery, computer hardware and office supplies.
  • Participate in metrics reporting for on-time placement of purchase requisitions and meeting cost cutting objectives.
  • Coordinated global procurement with minimal supervision for multiple company entities, sites and vendors.
  • Renegotiated previously established vendor relations through new vetting process; improving product selection/quality, yielding additional cost savings for the organization.
  • Develop and maintain Corporate Material Management Policy and Procedures with emphasis on providing the best customer service.

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