Do you have a nose for a great deal? Are you able to find great wholesalers across the globe? Can you pick up on the latest trends before they hit the stores? If you do, you may have a promising future as a buyer, who finds and contracts with wholesalers and manufacturers to provide merchandise for their company.
A buyer purchases a variety of durable and non-durable goods and services, negotiating a contract not only for price, but also for quality and delivery times. Their responsibilities include searching out new products, evaluating the item’s suitability for their company’s needs, negotiating a contract and seeing it through to the end, including dealing with shipping issues and unacceptable products. Most work is done in an office environment, though some travel is required to attend trade shows and meet with suppliers. Some international travel may be required for globally-based companies. A full-time schedule is fairly common, with some overtime required at times.
Requirements and Qualifications
In addition to education and certifications, you’ll also find it helpful to develop math, negotiating, analytical and decision making skills to further your career as a buyer. Communication skills are vital, especially when working with an international wholesaler or manufacturer. Knowledge of a foreign language may also prove useful when dealing with international organizations.
Most companies require a bachelor’s degree with some business or accounting coursework, while some require greater expertise in the form of a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business, accounting or economics to work as a buyer or to be promoted into more advanced positions.
Steps to Become a Buyer
Though some small companies do not require a higher degree, most companies will require a bachelor’s degree with some business and accounting coursework. Advancement to top-level positions may require a master’s degree. There is also a training period, usually of one year or longer, to acquaint the buyer with the business and its products and services. Certifications are also available from a range of organizations including the American Purchasing Society, the Association for Operations Management and the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing. Five years’ experience or more may be required to move into a managerial position in purchasing.
There are many related fields to this position. With additional training, buyers can become purchasing agents or managers. Advertising, promotions and marketing managers produce the advertisements and marketing plans that drive sales. Do you like keeping track of the bottom line? Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks play a vital role in producing a company’s financial records. Financial clerks keep records, help customers and complete transactions in the banking, finance and insurance companies. If managing a restaurant interests you, a food service manager position may be of interest. Lodging managers ensure that a property is run reasonably and efficiently while making sure guests have an excellent experience. Logisticians are experts at the supply chain, from manufacturer through clearance rack. Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell products to government agencies, businesses or organizations.
There is some variation in salary based on what is being purchased. Buyers in agricultural products averaged $54,220 in annual pay as of May 2010. Wholesale and retail buyers of non-farm products averaged $49,650 annually. Advancement into a purchasing agent’s position had an annual average salary of $56,580 and purchasing managers averaged $95,070. Purchasing positions on average paid 72% higher than the average annual wages of all careers.
Both categories of buyers are expected to have slower than average growth, with agricultural buyers having a 5% growth and non-agricultural buyers experiencing a 9% growth rate from 2010 to 2020. You should note that the non-agricultural buyers’ growth rate depends strongly on market performance.