Purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents have two major goals: to buy goods their company can sell at a profit, and to increase their customer base by offering products that consumers want. Purchasing agents buy items that support an organization’s operation, such as chemicals or industrial equipment for a manufacturer. Buyers purchase goods for resale to consumers, such as clothing or electronics. Purchasing managers oversee the work of buyers and agents, and handle more complex tasks. The most challenging part of the job is predicting which items will be popular, and which might end up left unsold in a warehouse or hanging on a store’s markdown racks which takes a combination of good planning, decisiveness, and the confidence to trust their intuition. Buyers and purchasers research industry trends, study past sales, and listen to customer feedback to identify buying patterns. They carefully select product suppliers that will meet the quality, cost, and delivery date promised. Most buyers, purchasing agents, and managers work in offices full time, with some travel to see suppliers. Overtime is common. The largest employers of these positions are in the manufacturing industry, wholesale and retail trade, and the federal government. Buyers and purchasing agents often need a bachelor’s degree and related experience, though a high school diploma suffices for some positions. Purchasing managers usually have at least a bachelor’s degree, and several years’ work experience as a buyer or purchasing agent.
What they do:
Buy merchandise or commodities, other than farm products, for resale to consumers at the wholesale or retail level, including both durable and nondurable goods. Analyze past buying trends, sales records, price, and quality of merchandise to determine value and yield. Select, order, and authorize payment for merchandise according to contractual agreements. May conduct meetings with sales personnel and introduce new products. May negotiate contracts. Includes assistant wholesale and retail buyers of nonfarm products.
On the job, you would:
Buy merchandise or commodities for resale to wholesale or retail consumers.
Negotiate prices, discount terms, or transportation arrangements with suppliers.
Examine, select, order, or purchase merchandise consistent with quality, quantity, specification requirements, or other factors, such as environmental soundness.
sales and marketing
Arts and Humanities
Math and Science
arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
Engineering and Technology
computers and electronics
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
talking to others
bringing people together to solve differences
talking people into changing their minds or their behavior
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
choose the right type of math to solve a problem
add, subtract, multiply, or divide
Ideas and Logic
use rules to solve problems
notice when problems happen
People interested in this work like activities that include leading, making decisions, and business.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Enterprise resource planning ERP software
Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne
Point of sale POS software
Plexis Software Plexis POS
Windward Software Windward System Five
bachelor's degree or high school diploma/GED usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.