The increasing importance of supply chain management programs in today’s global economy has opened up a variety of attractive career paths in disciplines that help power the field. Purchasing managers have an important position in the supply chain.
Supply chain management requires the management and execution of a number of physical and service processes. This sequence of functions is integrated within an organization and across its supply chain partners to provide a combination of products, services and solutions to the end consumer. A successful supply chain relies on strong management skills in the areas of operations management, logistics, procurement and information technology.
Purchasing managers are an important link in the supply chain, serving as the professionals who are ultimately responsible for procuring the highest quality goods and services at the best possible prices, which is an important contribution to the business’ cost-efficiencies. Since more than two-thirds of a company’s revenues can be spent on purchased products and services, a skilled purchasing manager can have a huge impact on profitability.
One of the key responsibilities of purchasing managers includes identifying and evaluating prospective suppliers. In this process, a purchasing manager will consider the supplier’s track record of satisfactorily producing quality products in the required amounts and delivering the goods on time. While cost-effectiveness is an important aspect, purchasing managers will also weigh suppliers on other factors, such as sustainability, risk management and whether the supplier maintains an ethical track record. Once a prospective supplier has been vetted, evaluated and chosen, the purchasing manager will be responsible for negotiating the contract.
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Other activities vary according to the business type, size and location, along with the purchasing manager’s level of responsibilities. Those in more senior level positions may be responsible for purchasing strategy, as well as forecasting demand for products and services and pricing trends. They may also liaise between suppliers, manufacturers, internal teams and customers and process payments.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for purchasing managers is projected to grow by 7% from 2010 to 2020. The median annual salary for purchasing managers is approximately $95,070. Salaries vary widely, however, depending factors like location, education and experience.
The starting point for a career as a purchasing manager in terms of education is an online supply chain management certificate, bachelor's degree in business administration, accounting, economics or a related field, and new graduates may start off as trainees, junior or associate buyers. Some employers may require their purchasing managers to obtain advanced degrees, such as an MBA or Master of Science.
The field of purchasing management requires individuals to maintain and grow their knowledge and capabilities through continuing education and professional development. This education can be attained while maintaining full-time employment, through traditional and distance learning options. With the right education, training and experience, purchasing managers can look to a bright career in a number of industry sector options that match their interests, such as manufacturing, service companies, retailing or engineering and construction.