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Career Profile: Purchasing Agent

Why Is Purchase Management a Job of Tomorrow?
Purchasing managers are needed to oversee the procuring of goods to keep up with consumer demands. Purchasing managers must make supply decisions, taking care to not purchase too little or too much, which is a critical skill in today's recovering economy. Employment opportunities for purchasing managers are expected to increase 3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Purchasing managers make an average salary of $81,570 annually.

What Does a Purchasing Manager Do?
Purchasing managers supervise the purchasing process for a business. The businesses that purchasing managers can work for include apparel retailers, office supply manufacturers and heavy equipment makers. Unlike purchasing agents, who handle the tasks of tracking market conditions and estimating future market trends before purchasing materials, purchasing managers have a more complex role in the workforce. They consider not only market trends, but also the quality, reliability, availability and price of the goods to be bought. Managers must determine which supplies would be the best to purchase, as the cheapest price does not always denote the best option. For example, if the purchasing manager is scouting for steel, he or she may choose to buy more expensive steel that has been proven to last longer than cheaper steel with a history of problems. Purchasing managers also have the responsibility of negotiating supply contracts.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Purchasing Manager?
Although there is no formal education requirement for purchasing managers, most employers prefer applicants who have completed a bachelor's degree in the business field. A bachelor's degree takes four years to obtain, and a business degree program covers administration theories and finance. Employers also prefer workers who are familiar with the organization's field. Certification is not required, but is available from the Institute for Supply Management and the American Purchasing Society.