How to Become a Purchasing Manager

How to Become a Purchasing Manager: Career Path Guide

Would you like to work in a field that involves working with numbers and with people? Are you comfortable being accountable for results? Does a 9-5, office-based career appeal to you? Do you have an interest in developing, motivating and leading staff?


If you’ve answered “yes” to the above questions, then becoming a purchasing manager 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 You’ll Need

The education required to become a purchasing manager can vary based on the discretion of the employer, although you typically need a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Supply Chain Management, or a closely related field.


Some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree in one of these areas, while others may accept years of experience in roles of progressive responsibility in place of formal education. 




Experience You’ll Need to Enter this Role

The experience you’ll need to become a purchasing manager depends on your level of education. Without formal education, you typically need at least 5 years of experience in roles of progressive responsibility within a procurement, inventory management or supply chain management environment.


For example, you could start your career in an entry-level job in purchasing (also known as procurement), inventory management or supply chain management. If you show initiative, accountability and competence in your role, you could gradually move into roles of progressive responsibility, including purchasing manager.


If you have an undergraduate or graduate degree in management or a closely related field, the work experience you’d need could be greatly decreased, as your education may provide you with the knowledge base and competencies that you need to effectively perform management duties in a purchasing department.


Success Tip: It is really hard to step into senior purchasing roles by continually changing jobs. It is much easier to do it by gaining the experience where you are, even if it is only limited experience, and then gradually moving onto roles of progressive responsibility. 



Skills Needed to Be Successful

In order to become an effective worker in this field, you need to possess and/or develop certain skills, including


• The ability to lead and motivate teams of employees

• Experience in training developing staff

• The ability to work within budgetary constraints

• Excellent negotiation skills and the ability to persuade others

• The ability to ensure employees are performing their job duties effectively

• The ability to effectively evaluate suppliers and choose those with the best combination of price and quality

• Intermediate to expert-level competency in MS Office suite

• You can effectively set priorities, while taking into account short and long-term needs of the business

• You can make sound decisions based on established requirements, procedures and practices



Purchasing Manager: General Job Description

As a purchasing manager, you would be responsible for planning and directing the activities of purchasing staff and related workers, who are involved in purchasing materials, products and services for an organization.


You would ultimately be responsible for ensuring that the goods and services they purchase, are of the proper quantity, quality and price as required by your organization.



General Job Duties

Although the specific duties you would perform would vary from job to job, you could expect to perform duties similar to the following:


• Preparing bid awards to be approved by the Board of Directors

• Maintaining records of goods ordered and received

• Administering online purchasing systems

• Recruiting, hiring, training, supervising and supporting purchasing staff

• Locating vendors of materials, equipment or supplies, and interviewing them to determine product availability and terms of sales

• Resolving grievances pertaining to vendor contracts

• Overseeing the preparation of purchase orders and requisition requests

• Ensuring purchase orders are compliant with company policies and procedures



Is This Career Right for You?

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


• You enjoy supervising others and directing their work

• You enjoy being responsible for the outcome of projects

• You have an interest in developing relationships with suppliers

• You have a high level of self-confidence

• You have an interest in the industry in which the employer operates

• 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 Purchasing Managers?

As a purchasing manager, 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



What Kind of Salary Can You Earn?

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


• Your professional qualifications (levels of 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 


Purchasing Manager Salary - Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadians working in the Purchasing Managers occupational group is $79,300 per year.


Purchasing Manager - United Kingdom: According to the National Careers Service, Junior purchasing managers can expect to earn between £20,000 and £25,000 a year. With experience, this can rise to between £25,000 and £40,000. If working for a large organization, you could see upwards of £60,000 annually. 


Purchasing Manager Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Purchasing Managers occupational group is $108,120 per year.




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Typical Work Environment

Working Hours: As a purchasing manager, 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), giving direction to employees, and taking direction from executives. You would also spend some time researching suppliers and vendors, and keeping abreast with market trends. 



Careers Similar to ‘Purchasing Manager’

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 Purchasing Manager:


• Inventory Control Specialist

Operations Manager

• Purchaser

• Retail Buyer

• Textile Production Manager




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


Wages & Salaries in Alberta:Purchasing managers.” (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.

Explore Careers:Purchasing Manager.” (n.d.). National Careers Service website. Retrieved January 11, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming a Purchasing Manager

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a purchasing manager. You can search for scholarships matched to that/those field(s) of study on our Business Administration Scholarships and Marketing 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 Purchasing Manager: Applicable Majors

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


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