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How to Become a Purchasing Manager

Purchasing managers are responsible for organizing and supervising purchasing functions of an organization. They manage purchasing activities such as contracts and negotiations, as well as reviewing, renewing, filing, and evaluating the price, term, and quality of products. Purchasing managers coordinate the bid process and ensure compliance with purchasing policies and regulations.

Purchasing managers work in all industries, securing materials, supplies, and equipment to meet organizational needs and business functions. They design purchasing strategies that ensure the availability of inventory within the company’s budget. Purchasing managers maintain databases of potential suppliers and cultivate good relationships to facilitate the process of obtaining new materials. Do you have sound judgment and great decision-making skills? Are you good at negotiating and building relationships with others? If so, a role as a purchasing manager might be the right job for you.

Sample job description

At [Your Company Name], we’re dedicated to our customers, which is why we’re hiring a purchasing manager. In this position, you will direct and maintain the purchasing function to assure the timely, economical purchase of raw materials, parts, equipment, and operating supplies. You must be able to establish and implement procedures for procuring materials and services in accordance with required specifications.

You will also need to establish policies to assure timely and accurate processing of materials from receipt through requisitioning to production. As an ideal candidate, you should have proven experience managing purchasing activities and processes, excellent leadership qualities, and proven experience negotiating with suppliers.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Demonstrates effective communication and problem-solving skills
  • Manages purchasing clerks including hiring, training and supervising
  • Administers, reviews, manages, files, evaluates, analyzes, and negotiates contracts
  • Prepares and evaluates orders and bids and recommends vendors, etc.
  • Ensures contracts comply with regulations
  • Evaluates vendors to ensure performance is aligned with established specifications
  • Develops and implements purchasing and contract management instructions, policies, and procedures
  • Maintains accurate purchasing records
  • Reviews and monitors capital purchases to ensure compliance with company policies and procedures
  • Identifies opportunities for cost savings
  • Continually improves purchasing methods and processes
  • Responds to inquiries from internal and external sources as pertains to purchasing
  • Prepares and presents market conditions and merchandise cost reports
  • Resolves grievances with vendors, contractors, and suppliers
  • Negotiates with suppliers
  • Coordinates removal or disposal of surplus materials

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in business administration, accounting, economics, or related field
  • 3+ years of experience in the purchasing-related field

Required skills and qualifications

  • In-depth knowledge of inventory and supply chain management
  • Supervisory or management experience
  • Intermediate proficiency using Microsoft Office and purchasing software
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills
  • Excellent negotiation skills
  • Strong planning and organizational skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience with sourcing and vendor management
  • Good business sense and strong interest in market dynamics

Typical work environment

Most purchasing managers work in office settings. They sometimes have to travel to meet with vendors and purchasers. Those working for global organizations might be required to travel outside the country.

Typical hours

Purchasing managers usually work 40 hours per week during normal business hours. Some might work more than 40 hours on occasion.

Available certifications

Purchasing managers work in a wide range of industries, and many institutions offer certifications. Here are three of the best certifications available for purchasing managers:

  • Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP).  The CPP program is designed for professionals who have demonstrated the skills needed to successfully implement improved purchasing and supply chain practices in an organization. Administered by the American Purchasing Society, the CPP is available to all professionals working in purchasing, materials management, or in an executive position who are also members of the American Purchasing Society or who work for a company that holds a valid membership in the Society. 
  • Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM). The CPSM credential is designed to help supply chain and procurement professionals drive value in their organizations. Offered by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the CPSM demonstrates your advanced skills and understanding of the supply chain from end to end. Major competencies covered include sourcing, negotiation, legal and contractual, supplier relationship management, and supply chain strategy. Eligibility requirements are three years of full-time, professional supply management experience with a bachelor’s degree or five years of supply management experience without a degree.
  • Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP). The CSCP is managed by the Association for Supply Chain Management and is designed to equip you with end-to-end supply chain knowledge to help your business stay competitive in today’s economy. The certification works across a broad range of industries, including manufacturing, education, government, healthcare, and distribution. To be eligible, you must have either 3 years of business experience, a bachelor’s degree, or an active CPIM, CPIM-F, CIRM, SCOR-P, CPM, CPSM, CTL, or CLTD certification.

Career path

To start on the path to becoming a purchasing manager, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in business administration, accounting, or a related field. Purchasing managers typically begin their careers as buyers or purchasing agents and receive on-the-job training, learning the basics of procurement and how to negotiate with suppliers. Many purchasing managers are promoted from within an organization, and most have at least three years of experience in a relevant area. Earning a professional certification is a great way for purchasing managers to improve their skills and stand out from the competition.   

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 effects of COVID-19 are still being felt worldwide, and organizations are continuing to recover from the drastic impact on global supply chains. This is forcing companies and industries to rethink and overhaul their supply chain models. They must now consider how to build flexibility into the supply chain to accommodate disruptions like the one that occurred in 2020 in order to reduce supplier exposure and risk. Especially hard hit was the long-distance, international supply chains. Adding a level of resilience to these supply chains, such as working with a much wider range of suppliers and working with a greater number of smaller, regional start-ups can help ease the impact of another global hit to the supply chain.  

With the continued push toward a more eco-friendly world, purchasing managers will need to build in initiatives to improve environmental, social, and economic performance, rather than only focusing on monitoring supplier compliance. Regardless, there will be an increase in purchasing managers, making this a stable career choice.