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How to Become a Procurement Manager

If you enjoy budgeting and managing finances, are a good team leader, can handle multiple projects at once, and have excellent communication and negotiating skills, a career as a procurement manager might be right for you.

Procurement managers manage a company’s supply of products and services. Although their duties can vary depending on the company, their main responsibility is to make sure a company or organization sources quality and affordable products within a reasonable timeframe. Individuals in this position lead and manage a procurement team that is responsible for procuring goods and services across all departments within a company. Procurement managers need to determine a company’s product and service needs, strategize and negotiate agreements with suppliers and vendors, and prepare contracts. This includes developing strong relationships with business stakeholders and strategic supply partners to improve business. They are responsible for acquiring the most cost-effective deals to reduce procurement expenses.

Sample job description

The procurement manager leads the procurement team and will manage the overall direction, coordination, and evaluation of the procurement of goods and services across all departments within the company. This includes determining product and service needs, negotiating agreements with suppliers and vendors, and preparing and reviewing contracts. You will specialize in raising supplier performance, implementing cost-effective purchases, and ensuring quality control. You must educate employees on applicable purchasing policies, conduct continual analysis of the procurement process, and ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements, policies, procedures, and contracts. The procurement manager will control the procurement budget while also working closely with the finance team on project cost management. You will approve purchase orders, and organize and confirm the delivery of goods and services. As an ideal candidate, you have proven experience in managing supply chain operations, in-depth knowledge of supply chain management software and tools, and exceptional problem-solving and negotiating skills.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Lead and manage procurement team and provide guidance on the procurement process
  • Determine a company or organization’s product and service needs
  • Build and maintain strong and long-term relationships with vendors and suppliers 
  • Strategize and negotiate with suppliers and vendors to acquire the most cost-effective deals
  • Develop procurement strategies to reduce procurement expenses
  • Approve purchase orders, organize the delivery of goods and services, and ensure quality control
  • Ensure compliance with all regulatory supply chain management requirements, policies, and procedures
  • Control procurement budget and manage company spending
  • Identify areas of improvement to drive performance and business results
  • Conduct analysis and prepare procurement reports

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, engineering, contract management, supply chain management, logistics, accounting, or related field
  • Master’s degree a plus
  • 5+ years of related experience

Required skills and qualifications

  • Extensive knowledge of supply chain management software and tools including Oracle, SAP Ariba, and/or Envision
  • Exceptional networking and negotiating skills
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills
  • High-level attention to detail
  • Excellent management and leadership skills 
  • Excellent communication skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Previous experience managing supply chain operations
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint)
  • Procurement and/or supply chain management certification
  • Negotiation and financial management experience

Typical work environment

Procurement managers typically work in offices. However, travel is sometimes necessary to visit suppliers, review products, and attend trade shows and conferences. They spend many hours sitting in front of a computer and communicating with suppliers and vendors via phone or email.

Typical hours

Procurement managers typically work full-time 40-hour work weeks from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. However, late nights and weekend work are fairly common for this position. Some work overtime and more than 40 hours per week.

Available certifications

Some employers may require an industry-recognized certification. There are several certifications available for procurement managers that can help further your education and expertise in this field. 

  • Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) Certification. The Certified Purchasing Professional (CCP) Certification is offered by the American Purchasing Society. The program is for professionals who have demonstrated the skills to successfully implement improved purchasing and supply chain practices as part of a business solution in an organization. The CCP certification is valid for 5 years and candidates must earn a certain number of professional “points” to renew their certification. Certifications can be renewed through a combination of purchasing-related experience, education, and professional contributions (such as published articles or delivered speeches).
  • Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) Credential. The Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential is offered by the Association for Supply Chain Management. The program will help candidates demonstrate knowledge of the essential technology, concepts, and strategies in today’s extended supply chain. 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 and candidates must earn a certain number of professional development points to renew their certification.
  • Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) Credential. The Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) credential is offered by the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council. The program is best suited for individuals that are responsible for performing essential functions within the procurement cycle for a public/governmental entity but may or may not have management or supervisory responsibilities. Applicants must serve in responsible procurement positions with their organization. Two different requirement options are available for applicants. Option 1 requires applicants to have completed a 2-year education program from a post-secondary institution or higher, have 3 or more years of procurement experience, and have completed 72 contact hours of coursework/training. Option 2 does not require applicants to have a degree but requires at least 5 years of procurement experience and to have completed 72 contact hours of coursework/training. The certification must be renewed every 5 years by completing continuing education courses or attending procurement-related conferences or events.

Career path

The path to a career as a procurement manager starts with a bachelor’s degree, typically in business, engineering, contract management, supply chain management, logistics, accounting, or a similar field. 

The next step is to gain practical experience by obtaining an entry-level position as a buyer or purchasing agent. You can also gain experience through internships while obtaining your degree. 

An experienced buyer or purchasing agent may become an assistant purchasing manager before advancing to a procurement manager. A procurement manager typically must have at least 5 years of experience as a buyer or purchasing agent. 

Procurement managers with extensive work experience can also advance to become the chief procurement officer (CPO) for an organization. You can also take your career to senior roles by obtaining a master’s degree.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-3061

2020 Employment74,400
Projected Employment in 203079,000
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 6% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift4,600 increase

The rise of automation, e-procurement, and digitalization are transforming job functions within procurement. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an overall 4% decline in the employment of purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents from 2020 to 2030. It is projected that organizations will likely adopt automation for simple procurement functions such as finding suppliers or processing purchase orders. In addition, some organizations may rely on third parties to handle other tasks, such as market research or supplier risk assessments. However, the employment of procurement managers is projected to increase by 6% from 2020 to 2030 because these workers will continue to be needed to help procure goods and services for business operations or for resale to customers.