How to Become a Purchaser

How to Become a Purchaser: Career Path Guide

Would you like to work in a field that involves working with numbers and with people? Are you comfortable negotiating prices and terms and being accountable for results? Do you take more than price into consideration when evaluating a potential purchase? And finally, does a 9-5, office-based career appeal to you?


If you’ve answered “yes” to the above questions, then becoming a purchaser may be a great career choice for you. So read on below; we’ll give you a brief intro as to what you’d be doing and what you need to do to get there!


Education Needed to Become a Purchaser

Without a degree or a diploma, you might be able to find work in an entry-level position, such as purchasing clerk, expediter or junior buyer, or working in departments where stock is processed (for example, stores or shipping and receiving). From there, you might be able to work your way into a purchaser job.


However, many employers prefer to hire applicants who have post-secondary education in business administration or commerce, supply chain management or economics, especially for positions that involve more complicated aspects, such as cost analysis, legal issues and contract administration.


It’s important to note that you might only be able to find employment as a purchaser in certain industries if you have related background knowledge. For example, a chemical company might require that you have a degree in chemistry.


Success Tip: Whether you plan to start in an entry-level role or not, getting a diploma or degree in supply chain management, purchasing and finance, would be very helpful for advancing your career.




Purchaser Job Description

As a purchaser, you would be responsible for sourcing and buying goods, materials, supplies and services from vendors (for use or for re-sale), and ensuring that they are of the proper quantity, quality and price as required by your organization.



Purchaser Job Duties

Although your duties would vary from job to job, you could expect to be responsible for looking after the following functions:


• Consulting with other departments in the organization to determine goods and services requirements

• Developing strategic purchasing programs that consolidate company spending on goods and services

• Tracing shipments and following up on undelivered goods

• Arranging payment of any applicable duty and flight charges

• Preparing and administering budgets and contracts

• Preparing and issuing purchase orders

• Negotiating prices and terms

• Ensuring that the right quality and quantity of goods or services are purchased for the organization, and at the most appropriate time

• Attending trade shows, seminars and sales presentations



Is This Career Right for You?

Becoming a purchaser might be a great career choice if you have the following characteristics:


• You are comfortable negotiations prices and terms

• You enjoy working with people and analyzing information

• You are comfortable making decisions that involve large sums of money

• You are interested in an office-based career that offers normal working hours

• You are comfortable being accountable to company executives





Who Creates Jobs for Purchasers?

As a purchaser, you could be employed by any organization that spends large sums of money are on equipment, supplies and services. Such types of organizations may include:


• Federal, provincial/state and municipal governments

• Construction companies

• Manufacturing companies

• School boards

• Regional health authorities

• Post-secondary institutions 

• Large publicly traded and private businesses




Work Environment for Purchasers

Working Hours: As a purchaser, you'd likely work regular, weekday working hours. You might find yourself occasionally going into work early, staying late or going in on weekends, in order to complete tasks and projects, or attend meetings, trade shows, or other events.


Work Setting: Your work would be office-based, which could be located within a warehouse, production facility, an corporate office, or other commercial or industrial space. You might have to travel on occasion to attend meetings and trade shows and conferences. 


Work Conditions: Your work would involve communicating with colleagues at your office (via phone, email or in person), taking direction from supervisors and managers, and negotiating with vendors and sales representatives. You would also spend a good amount of time researching products and/or services on the interned and in catalogues. 



What Kind of Salary Can You Earn?

The salary level you could earn as a purchaser can vary greatly, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your professional qualifications (education, experience, etc.)

• The size and budget of your employer

• The industry in which you work

• The region in which you work

• The scope of your job duties and responsibilities 


Purchaser Salary - Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadians working in the Purchasing Agents and Officers occupational group is $53,700 per year.


Purchaser Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Buyers and Purchasing Agents occupational group is $59,620 per year.



Career Advancement Possibilities

If you show competence and determination in your work, you will be rewarded with various career advancement opportunities, including (but not nearly limited to):


• Getting an increase in pay and/or responsibility (the latter is great for resume building!)

• Advancing to supervisory positions 

• Advancing to management positions (may require a diploma or degree in business)

• Moving into related areas such as materials management, inventory management, accounting or finance



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Alternate Titles for “Purchaser”

The position of “purchaser” can also be known by several other titles, including:


• Purchasing Agent

• Procurement Specialist

• Buyer

• Industrial Buyer

• Industrial Purchaser 

• Supply Chain Technician



Careers Similar to ‘Purchaser’

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or are in the same sector of industry, as Purchaser:


• Accounting Clerk

• Contract Administrator

• Fashion Buyer

• Human Resources Coordinator

• Purchasing Manager

• Sales Representative




Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become a purchaser:



Occupations in Alberta:Purchasing Agent.” (March 19, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 11, 2020.

Business & Financial:Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents.” (September 4, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 11, 2020.

Negotiating a Job Offer: Keys to Being a Great Purchasing Agent.” Neil Kokemuller (n.d.). Houston Chronicle website. Retrieved January 11, 2020.


Please Note: Some of the information for this career guide was gathered from actual job postings, which due to the brief nature of their online presence, are not listed here as sources.




Scholarships for Becoming a Purchaser

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a purchaser. You can search for scholarships matched to that/those field(s) of study on our Business Administration Scholarships and Economics Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Purchaser: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful (or necessary) for becoming a purchaser. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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