Chief Purchasing Officer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Becoming a chief procurement officer requires some formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Because a chief purchasing officer is considered an upper management position, candidates for this role are often required to hold a master's degree in a program such as accounting, finance or business. A few of the top industries in the United States employing chief procurement officers are the federal government, professional services, and manufacturing.

Essential Information

Chief procurement officers negotiate prices, contracts and vendors for organizations. These officers, also called chief purchasing officers, are responsible for procuring goods and services on behalf of their organization. Because the position is considered upper management, many employers require a master's degree in programs like business, economics, finance or accounting, though specialized companies may require more specific degrees.

Required Education Many companies prefer professionals with master's degrees in business, economics or other related fields
Other Requirements Relevant work experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 1% for purchasing managers*
Median Salary (2015) $108,120 for purchasing managers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of a Chief Procurement Officer

Chief procurement officers work on behalf of an organization negotiating the cost of goods and services from vendors. Responsibilities of a CPO will vary depending on the size of a corporation. Those employed by large international companies may supervise a number of employees in other countries, while those in smaller companies may simply manage inventory. CPOs may work closely with the accounting department of a company to verify vendors are paid promptly after services are obtained.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for purchasing managers in 2015 was $108,120. The BLS anticipates a job growth rate of 1% for purchasing managers between 2014 and 2024, which is lower than the average rate for all jobs during that time.

Duties of a Chief Procurement Officer

Chief procurement officers handle pricing negotiations, service contracts and authorization of new vendors. They may require the issuance of purchase orders and other tracking documentation. Some companies may regulate the responsibility of inventory control to a purchasing department for items such as office supplies or technical equipment. Purchasing officers may utilize comprehensive auditing software to manage company assets. Supervision of one or more related departments may fall under the authority of a chief procurement officer.

Requirements of a Chief Procurement Officer

Educational Requirements

Chief procurement officers are considered upper management, and many organizations prefer CPOs with a master's degree in business administration or related field of study. An academic background in economics, finance or accounting may be suitable for many organizations, though a degree in engineering or an applied science may appeal to manufacturing companies.

Some organizations provide on-the-job training which offers new CPOs the opportunity to learn about suppliers, pricing, markets and commodities in relation to the company. CPOs may begin a career in a purchasing department checking invoices, tracking inventory and selling goods. Experience, training and additional education are standard paths for advancement within a company.

Required Skills

CPOs coordinate with vendors, staff and management to ensure adequate supply is available at the lowest cost. Significant negotiation skills are generally required for purchasing staff. Some global organizations may request applicants be fluent in one or more foreign languages. Earning optional certification in purchasing through one of a number of credentialing organizations demonstrates a professional's proficiency in contract negotiation, auditing procedures, legal regulations and supply chain management.

Chief procurement officers take care of pricing negotiations, the authorization of new vendors, and the handling of service contracts. In some companies, they may also be responsible for managing related departments, so aspiring CPOs should be comfortable assuming a supervisory role.

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