Purchasing managers plan, coordinate and supervise the activities of buyers, purchasing agents and related staff. They oversee the purchase of goods and services that businesses use or resell.
Their work involves researching and visiting vendors, negotiating contracts, and monitoring each supplier's adherence to those contracts. They also develop procurement policies, hire and train staff, and resolve vendor grievances.
- Create and implement procurement and contract management policies and procedures
- Monitor industry news, attend conferences and trade shows, and make contacts with new suppliers
- Interview vendors to determine product quality, suitability, availability and terms of sale
- Negotiate contracts and develop policies with suppliers, such as when items will be delivered
- Prepare any contracts or bids that require top executive or board approval
- Coordinate staff involved in purchasing, reselling and distributing products, equipment and supplies
- Control purchasing budget, developing short-term cost-cutting ideas and long-term savings plans
- Monitor inventory, analyse market and delivery systems to estimate future needs and availability
- Prepare or supervise processing of requisitions and purchase orders for supplies and equipment
- Maintain records of all goods purchased and received
- Interview, hire and train buyers, purchasing agents and other support staff
- Review all contracts and purchase orders to ensure adherence to laws and company policies
- Resolve grievances from vendors as well as company claims against suppliers
- Prepare and present reports on market trends, merchandise costs and other purchasing issues
Skills and qualities
Aspiring purchasing managers typically begin with an entry-level job in the purchasing department. Acquiring certifications and experience will help you move up to the next levels in your career.
In larger companies, you may begin your management career by overseeing only one specific area of purchasing. Purchasing managers with extensive and successful experience can then advance to the role of Chief Procurement Officer for an organisation.
Purchasing managers typically work full time in an office environment. Travel may be required to visit suppliers and tour manufacturing facilities.
Businesses rely on timely delivery of goods and services to keep manufacturing going or keep store shelves stocked. Balancing workflow, customer demand and inventory can be stressful. It may also require overtime work to meet deadlines.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Qualifications and training
Bachelor’s degree in business or related subject
Purchasing managers typically have a bachelor's degree in a subject such as business, finance or supply management. Those interested in a particular sector, like food service or agriculture, for example, may pursue a relevant industry-related degree. You will usually need five years of experience as a buyer or purchasing agent before moving into management.
Several organisations offer certification options for all levels of purchasing department employees. These include the American Purchasing Society (APS), the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) and the Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA). Check with each organisation for education and work experience requirements. Though certification is not often required, it can help set you apart from other job candidates.
SourcesNext Level Purchasing Association (NLPA) Bureau of Labor Statistics O*NET OnLine Oxford Martin School American Purchasing Society (APS) Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM)
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022