Become a Procurement Specialist: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a procurement specialist. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in the procurement field.

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Should I Become a Procurement Specialist?

Procurement specialists work in industrial, government, and construction fields managing vendor relations, overseeing order placement, measuring efficiency, and estimating costs of labor. Other industries, such as education and retail, use procurement specialists to track overall spending and to improve bidding on government and private-sector projects. Typical job duties include price negotiations, purchase order creation, order tracking and management, and price dispute resolutions. Extensive travel and overtime work may be required.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Actuarial Sciences
  • Business and Commerce, General
  • Business Statistics
  • Customer Service Management
  • eCommerce
  • Logistics, Distribution, and Materials Management
  • Management Science
  • Office Management
  • Operations Management
  • Public and Nonprofit Organizational Management
  • Purchases, Acquisitions, and Contracts Management
  • Transportation Management

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree typically required
Degree Fields Engineering, logistics, supply chain management, business
Certification Varies by industry, but may include Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) certification or lean manufacturing certification
Experience 4-6 years of supply management experience
Key Skills Verbal and written communication, analytical skills, negotiation, problem solving, facilitation, teamwork, multitasking; Microsoft Office (Excel, PowerPoint, Word), SAP purchase order systems
Salary (2014) $106,090 per year (Median salary for purchasing managers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Research Different Industries

Some corporations have procurement specialists who primarily work in an office environment using a computer to analyze purchasing situations and maintain ordering processes. Other procurement specialist positions within the construction and manufacturing industries may offer more opportunities for travel and working outside. Work environments may include construction sites or manufacturing plants. Research can provide a clearer picture of the type of degree and experience required.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Many firms in both the private and public sectors prefer procurement specialists to hold a bachelor's degree in a field such as engineering, logistics, supply chain management, or business. Major study areas include product distribution, materials handling, accounting, and procurement practices. Students can learn principles of finance and management necessary to solve business problems in a corporate procurement environment. They may also learn about legal issues that can occur when working with global supply chains.

Success Tips:

  • Gain entry-level experience. Reading about a particular industry is no substitute for real-world experience, so getting some hands-on practice at a construction site, in a factory, or in the purchasing department of a major firm will provide an opportunity to gain insight. Working an entry-level position is a basic way to learn the pros and cons of working for a particular company or industry.
  • Participate in an internship. In addition to coursework, many schools offer internships in degree-related industries for credit for students attending a college degree program. These programs can provide college students with real-world experience and skills in supply chain management or procurement that can be used after graduation.

Step 4: Earn Applicable Certifications

Some employers prefer that a procurement specialist hold certifications to qualify for a position. The Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC) offers a CPPB program that is designed to demonstrate public procurement competency. Applicants must hold a minimum combination of education and professional experience to be eligible, and must pass a multiple-choice exam. Re-certification is required every five years.

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) offers several levels of Lean certification, which demonstrates a level of knowledge of manufacturing best practices. Different levels of certification require certain combinations of required education and work experience. Applicants are required to submit a portfolio in addition to passing an exam.

Step 4. Earn a Master's Degree

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a master's degree would be beneficial for advancement in the field of purchase management. In fact, it could potentially be necessary for certain top-level positions.

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