Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents held about 527,400 jobs in 2008. About 42 percent worked in the wholesale trade and manufacturing industries. Opportunities should be best for those with a college degree in engineering, business, economics, or one of the applied sciences.
Employment of purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents is expected to increase 7 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. These workers will be needed to buy goods and services for business operations or for resale to customers. Growth will vary based on the type of purchasing agent or manager and the specific industry.
Employment of wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products, is expected to grow 9 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. Growth will be driven largely by the performance of the wholesale and retail industries. Employment of purchasing agents, farm products, is expected to grow 5 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. Slower growth in the agricultural industry has led to slow growth in this occupation, and the trend is expected to continue.
Also, many purchasing agents are now charged with procuring services that traditionally had been done in-house, such as computer and IT (information technology) support in addition to traditionally contracted services such as advertising. Nonetheless, demand for workers may be somewhat limited by technological improvements such as software that has eliminated much of the paperwork involved in ordering and procuring supplies, and the growing number of purchases being made electronically through the Internet and electronic data interchange (EDI). Demand will also be limited by offshoring of routine purchasing actions to other countries.
Employment is expected to have little or no change. The use of the Internet to conduct electronic commerce has made information easier to obtain, thus increasing the productivity of purchasing managers. The Internet also allows both large and small companies to bid on contracts. Exclusive supply contracts and long-term contracting have allowed companies to negotiate with fewer suppliers less frequently. Still, purchasing managers will be needed to oversee large consolidated purchasing networks, thus spurring some employment growth.
Education and Qualifications
Workers may begin as trainees, purchasing clerks, junior buyers, or assistant buyers. Most employers prefer to hire applicants who have a college degree and who are familiar with the merchandise they sell and with wholesaling and retailing practices. Prospects often need continuing education or certification to advance.
Educational requirements tend to vary with the size of the organization. Large stores and distributors prefer applicants who have completed a bachelor's degree program with a business emphasis. Many manufacturing firms put an even greater emphasis on formal training, preferring applicants with a bachelor's or master's degree in engineering, business, economics, or one of the applied sciences. A master's degree is essential for advancement to many top-level purchasing manager jobs.
Persons who have a bachelor's degree in engineering, business, economics, or one of the applied sciences should have the best chance of obtaining a buyer position. Industry experience and knowledge of a technical field will be an advantage for those interested in working for a manufacturing or industrial company. Government agencies and larger companies usually require a master's degree in business or public administration for top-level purchasing positions. Most managers need experience in their respective field.
Earnings in May 2010
The median annual wage of purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents was $58,360 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,110, and the top 10 percent earned more than $105,610.
The Institute for Supply Management™ (ISM)
Founded in 1915, the Institute for Supply Management™ (ISM) is the largest supply management association in the world as well as one of the most respected. ISM’s mission is to lead the supply management profession through its standards of excellence, research, promotional activities, and education. ISM’s membership base includes more than 34,000 supply management professionals with a network of domestic and international affiliated associations. ISM is a not-for-profit association that provides opportunities for the promotion of the profession and the expansion of professional skills and knowledge.
The American Purchasing Society
The American Purchasing Society is a professional association of buyers and purchasing managers and was the first organization to establish certification for buyers and purchasing professionals. Join those who have improved their careers by earning the American Purchasing Society's purchasing certification recognition. Become a Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP), a Certified Professional Purchasing Manager (CPPM), and/or a Certified Professional Purchasing Consultant (CPPC) today.
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