Purchasing Agent Education Requirements and Degree Program Info

Degree programs for purchasing agents are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels in fields such as supply chain management, business management or procurement and contract management. Discover program curricula along with employment information.

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Essential Information

Students enrolled in an associate's degree program in purchasing management typically learn organizational skills, leadership methods, time management techniques and ethics. Bachelor's degree programs in supply chain management focus on the systems used in the planning, purchasing and distribution of goods, supplies and services. In a graduate-level curriculum, master's degree programs in procurement and contract management expand upon previous schooling as well as experiential training and assume a foundational understanding of terminology and processes.

Internships and cooperative work arrangements may be part of a required curriculum for undergraduate programs, while graduate programs usually require a thesis or graduate project for completion. These programs often offer courses online.


Associate's Degree in Purchasing Management

Associate's degree programs in purchasing or supply chain management teach the various methods used to purchase raw materials, supplies and equipment at the lowest cost without sacrificing quality. This program normally takes two years to complete. To be admitted, students usually must have a high school diploma or GED. The curriculum and includes classes in:

  • Business math fundamentals
  • Principles of micro economics
  • Introduction to information systems
  • Advertising and professional sales
  • Principles of macroeconomics
  • Logistics management

Bachelor of Business Administration in Supply Chain Management

For admission into a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program with an emphasis in supply chain management, students must have a high school diploma or GED. The completion of prerequisite college coursework with a satisfactory GPA might also be required. Common courses include:

  • Production and operations management
  • Organizational theory and behavior
  • Integrated business statistics
  • Inventory and materials management
  • Production planning, implementation and control
  • Price and cost analysis

Master of Science in Management: Procurement and Contract Management

These master's degree programs are developed mainly for working professionals who hold a bachelor's degree in a related field. Master-level coursework normally gives students an understanding of both the strategic and operational aspects procurement. In addition to classroom instruction, students are often required to complete a capstone project. These projects generally involve extensive research on a topic related to purchasing, as well as the presentation of that research. Classes discuss the following subjects:

  • Principles of organizational theory
  • Intercultural communication practices
  • Finance and statistics for managers
  • Legal aspects of contracts and negotiations
  • Strategic logistics and procurement
  • Integrative supply chain management

Popular Careers

With an associate's degree in business management, purchasing or supply chain management, graduates are prepared to seek entry-level purchasing positions in a business or industrial organization. Possible job titles include:

  • Contract specialist
  • Wholesale buyer
  • Retail buyer
  • Procurement clerk

The BLS states that in many technical, industrial and manufacturing companies, purchasing managers are expected to have a significant amount of applicable industry experience; however, purchasing jobs within government agencies typically require candidates hold a master's degree. Career titles available to those with a master's degree in purchasing include:

  • Contract specialist
  • Procurement administrator
  • Logistics analyst
  • Wholesale and manufacturing sales representative
  • Food service manager

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates a 1% increase in jobs for purchasing managers and a 2% increase for buyers and purchasing agents between 2014 and 2024, which is slower than average growth compared to all other occupations. As of 2015, average yearly salaries were $114,130 for purchasing managers, $59,270 for wholesale and retail buyers and $66,120 for purchasing agents, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education Information

The next step on the educational ladder from a bachelor's degree program is a master's degree program. For those who are interested continuing education opportunities but don't want to enroll in another degree program, there are career credential certification programs available via professional organizations, such as the American Purchasing Society, the Association for Operations Management and the Institute for Supply Management.

Associate's degree programs in purchasing management prepare students for entry-level purchasing positions through courses in math, information systems and advertising. Bachelor's degree programs educate students in production and operations, while master's degree programs help students with advanced purchasing topics.

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