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How to Become a Shoe Buyer: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a shoe buyer. Learn about the job description and common duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in shoe buying. View article »

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Should I Become a Shoe Buyer?

Shoe buyers are also known as wholesale or retail buyers. They work with footwear and apparel companies to acquire high-quality seasonal shoes currently in vogue. More specifically, shoe buyers purchase footwear that incorporates the marketing and merchandising strategy of a retail or wholesale apparel company. Buyers assess different suppliers based on cost and quality to determine what shoes are the best to sell in their store.

The job entails attending trade shows and meetings around the world to learn about new footwear trends and styles. Most professionals work indoors in comfortable settings. Overtime hours are common in this career.

Career Overview

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's for advancement
Degree Field Business, fashion merchandising
Certification Voluntary
Experience Some experience necessary, particularly for advancement
Key Skills Decision-making, analytical, negotiation, creative, and communication skills
Salary $50,452 (2016 median for all buyers)

Source: Payscale.com

Successful shoe buyers are creative yet analytical types who know how to communicate well with others, especially when it comes to negotiation. They're also very comfortable with making decisions. According to PayScale.com in 2016, the median salary for all buyers was $50,452.

How to Become A Shoe Buyer

There is a pretty established path to becoming a shoe buyer:

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

While not required in every case, most employers prefer shoe buyers have a bachelor's degree in business, economics, or a related field like fashion or merchandising. Students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for a career as a buyer through hands-on experience with business technology and courses such as accounting, marketing, ethics, and management. Students should focus on coursework in economics and engineering. A Master's degree may be required for career advancement. Additional hands-on experience can be a boost in job hunting.

Success Tip:

Find an internship. While completing an undergraduate degree, aspiring shoe buyers should consider working at an internship. Internships typically count towards college credits and help students get real-world experience to add to their resumes.

Step 2: Gain Experience

Most positions available to shoe buyers require several years of experience working in the retail or wholesale apparel industry either as clerks, assistant buyers, or trainees. Companies seek employees who possess the ability to choose suppliers who'll deliver quality product on a strict schedule. Shoe buyers must also effectively manage inventory and adapt to the seasonal, constantly evolving customer and business needs of the fashion industry. Some entry-level positions provide on-the-job training that may last up to a year. Five years of experience may be required before an applicant is considered for a managerial position.

Step 3: Get Certified for Career Advancement

Certification isn't required, but it demonstrates to employers that a shoe buyer is familiar with certain ethical and professional industry standards. There are two major associations that provide certification. The American Purchasing Society provides professionals with the opportunity to become either a Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) or a Certified Professional Purchasing Manager (CPPM). To become a CPP, you must complete the stipulated amount of experience and education, take the designated online courses, and pass an exam. For CPPM certification, you must be a CPP, complete a four-week online course, and meet the society's managerial experience requirements before passing an exam.

In addition, The Association for Operations Management offers certification. To be eligible for certification as a Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), you need either a bachelor's degree with two years of related experience or have five years of experience. As part of the certification procedure, a CSCP candidate has to finish an educational program either independently, in a classroom setting, or online before passing an exam.

Success Tip:

Choose the right certification. Different certifications stand for different qualifications in the purchasing industry. Shoe buyers should carefully weigh the certification options and choose the one that best fits in with their intended career path.


Shoe buyers generally possess at least a bachelor's degree, several years of related experience, and voluntary certification. And, they use creative, analytical, and negotiation skills in purchasing footwear that fulfills a company's strategies and goals.

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