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Career ProfileBuyer

What They Do

A buyer can fill different roles in the business world. A buyer can be a personal assistant, a deal-maker for a large company or a purchasing agent for a farm. Buyers who are purchasing agents are responsible for negotiation and analysis of the buying process. They decide what products to display on store shelves, online or in catalogs.

Being a buyer requires exceptional research and analysis skills. These professionals need to understand how to determine the best deal for their company, purchase the product, and then sell to customers or create new materials to resell.

Education

To become a buyer, businesses typically ask potential applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. A degree is preferred because the applicant will have taken business and accounting classes, which are very useful in this profession. Larger manufacturing firms are also likely to require a master’s degree in economics, business or engineering. After being hired, employees receive on-the-job training for approximately a year to learn the basic function of their position, as well as how to monitor inventory levels and negotiate with suppliers.

For further qualification, individuals may also choose to earn certifications. The institutions that offer certification include the Institute for Supply Management, the American Purchasing Society, APICS, NIGP: The Institute for Public Procurement and the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council.

Skills

To succeed in this profession, some skills are more valuable than others. Being able to effectively analyze information and make decisions is extremely important. Individuals must be able to choose between different options and select the choice that is the most cost-effective solution for their needs. When buying from a supplier, a contract is usually drawn up to secure payment and delivery of goods. Individuals need to possess negotiation skills to discuss terms with suppliers, as well be knowledgeable about a variety of products to ensure they’re receiving a fair deal.

Compensation

The median annual salary for buyers is $60,550, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries can range from $34,990 to $110,050. By 2022, the job outlook is projected to grow 4 percent. Many buyers work in manufacturing, wholesale trade, government retail trade, and in management of companies and enterprises. The 4 percent growth rate is dependent largely on the wholesale and retail industries. However, the health care or computer systems design fields may grow at a higher percentage.

Potential Promotion

The most common promotion for a buyer to receive is becoming a purchasing manager. The median annual wage for purchasing managers is $100,170. Purchasing managers may also be called procurement managers or procurement officers. While very similar to the buyer position, a purchasing manager has a higher level of responsibility and will most likely be supervising the purchasing agents and buyers.