Purchasing Manager Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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A purchasing manager's median annual salary is $106,090, but is it worth the education requirements and corresponding debt? Get the truth about the job duties and career prospects to decide if this is the right path for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Purchasing Manager Career

Purchasing managers buy the supplies, materials and finished goods a business needs to sell or manufacture products. Consider the pros and cons of the field to find out if a career in purchasing management is your best choice.

Pros of a Purchasing Manager Career
High median salary ($106,090 in 2014)*
Employment in various industries (retail, manufacturing, wholesale and federal government)*
Can work in any geographic location*
Opportunities to travel abroad*

Cons of a Purchasing Manager Career
Slower than average job growth (4% from 2012-2022)
Long work hours (overtime, weekends and holidays)*
Advanced training (bachelor's degree and work experience)*
Continuing education is necessary*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Purchasing managers supervise buyers and agents, as well as maintain records and make high-level purchases. Managers research and evaluate vendors and suppliers to obtain the best price, quality and service for the company. They work with engineers to establish the specifications for materials and with production managers to determine delivery requirements. They may also request bids from contractors to find vendors within the company's budget.

Managers, in a manufacturing company, must track inventory levels to ensure production receives materials on time to meet company goals. Additionally, they monitor vendors to ensure compliance with quality standards.

Job Growth and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of purchasing professionals is expected to increase by four percent between 2012 and 2022. Meager increases in most industries, including agriculture, manufacturing and federal government, will lead to the slower-than-average growth of purchasing professionals, including managers. As of May 2014, most purchasing managers earned a median annual wage of $106,090, with the bottom 10% earning $60,840 and the top 10% earning $169,000; the highest employing industry was management of companies and enterprises. Additionally, as a purchasing manager, you'll find the most job opportunities in California, Texas, Illinois and New York.

Education Requirements

Education and Training

Becoming a purchasing manager takes an undergraduate degree and prior work experience in a lower position, such as agent or buyer. According to the BLS, retail businesses and distributorships want purchasing managers with a business degree, while manufacturing organizations may prefer job candidates with an education in engineering or science. An engineering education provides the purchasing manager with knowledge of the technical specifications and material requirements of the manufacturing organization. Some businesses may require a master's degree education for a purchasing manager position. Additionally, the BLS notes that advancement may require graduate education.

Job Postings From Real Employers

Purchasing manager positions are available in a variety of industries. Job postings may detail the type of materials and specific purchasing duties you're to perform. Employers may require job candidates have experience in the industry and in using industry specific systems. Below are some sample job postings to give you an idea of what employers were looking for in March 2012:

  • A Missouri employer was seeking a purchasing manager with a 4-year degree in a technical field and a minimum of seven years' experience in purchasing with three years in a supervisory role. While not a requirement, the employer preferred a candidate who had earned professional certifications.
  • An employer in South Carolina was looking for a purchasing manager with a 4-year degree and a minimum of three years' experience in purchasing in a manufacturing environment. The job candidate needed experience purchasing CNC machined parts.
  • An Ohio employer was searching for a purchasing manager with an associate's or bachelor's degree in business administration or engineering and at least ten years' experience in purchasing. The employer also required job candidates to have at least three years' experience in the management of a purchasing, scheduling or production planning department.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

Beyond gaining an education and professional experience in the field, you can stand out by completing professional certifications in purchasing. Organizations such as the Institute for Supply Management and the American Purchasing Society, offer certifications for professionals in purchasing. You must meet the certification requirements for experience and education, as well as successfully pass an examination. Job applicants with certifications from professional organizations demonstrate to potential employers that they meet the organization's requirements for the credential, which may help job seekers stand out from the crowd. Additionally, candidates with a technical background or experience in the field may have an advantage over the competition for a position with a manufacturing company.

Other Careers to Consider

Marketing Manager

If a career as a purchasing manager isn't for you, consider one in marketing management. Marketing managers require a similar educational background to promote the products or services an organization sells. They research trends to identify markets for the company's products or services, as well as for new product ideas. Employers require a minimum of a bachelor's degree to qualify for management positions and 1-5 years of experience. The wages are a bit higher with a median salary of $116,000 as of May 2011, and the job growth is higher, with a predicted 14% growth from 2010-2020, according to the BLS.

Sales Manager

Another option that you can consider in the management field is sales management. Sales managers oversee the sales department in an organization. Managers hire and train sales representatives and analyze the data compiled from sales statistics to assist in product development and marketing. Like purchasing managers, sales managers require a bachelor's and 1-5 years of experience as a representative. According to the BLS, the median wage for sales managers was $101,000 as of May 2011, and the projected job growth was 12% from 2010-2020.

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Featured Schools

Saint John's University

  • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Management
  • BS - Business Management
  • Undergraduate Certificate - Project Management

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Master of Business Administration - Management (Spanish)
  • Bachelor of Arts - Business Administration with a concentration in Transportation and Logistics
  • Associate of Arts - Accounting
  • Grad Business Certificate - Management and Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Master of Business Admin: Management
  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

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Grand Canyon University

  • DBA - Management
  • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
  • BS in Applied Management

What is your highest level of education?

The University of Scranton

  • MBA - Operations Management
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Dual MBA-MHA

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
  • PhD in Business Admin - Management
  • Master of Business Admin - General Business
  • MBA - Management

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management (DM) - General Concentration (Executive Format)
  • Master of Business Admin
  • BS - Business Administration - Management
  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

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