Purchasing Supervisor Jobs: Career Options and Requirements

You may have heard someone joking that shopping is their job, but in some cases, buying things can actually be someone's job! That's the case for purchasing supervisors. Find out more about the requirements for a career in this field.

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A purchasing supervisor, also known as a purchasing manager, works with a variety of companies to secure and oversee the purchasing of the proper goods and supplies for their company. A bachelor's degree is required for this profession.

Essential Information

Purchasing supervisors are in charge of making purchasing decisions for a business or organization. These professionals often work in the manufacturing industry or the public sector. While a bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement, a voluntary certification or a master's degree in business or supply management can improve a candidate's job prospects.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in business, economics, or another applied science
Other Requirements 5 years of work experience (for some jobs)
Other Educational Options Voluntary certification, master's degree in business or supply chain management
Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024) 1% (for purchasing managers)
Median Annual Salary* (2015) $108,120 (for purchasing managers)

Source *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Purchasing Supervisor Career Options

Purchasing supervisors are called upon by medical companies, wholesale companies and retail establishments to handle the purchasing of goods and services. Purchasing supervisors direct the staff and overall program in the purchase of goods, supplies and applicable equipment for their establishment. They are called upon to conduct evaluations on the purchase agreements concerning the product quality for safety standards. When it comes to making a bid for future items and services, the purchasing manager must be in charge of this task.

Auditing duties are also a part of a purchasing manager's job description. For example, the purchasing manager for a health care company attends meetings with fellow physicians and clinicians in order to bring about better methods of health care products and services for their patients. In a wholesale company, a purchasing manager audits the purchasing protocol involving raw materials, non-food items and packaging goods.

When special projects involving new products and ideas for their company are introduced, a purchasing manager looks into them and applies those plans towards the future development of the company. They must also monitor and research market trends that could benefit their company's production or services.

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Purchasing Supervisor Career Requirements

Successful completion of a bachelor's degree program in a business, economics or other applied science is typically required to become a purchasing supervisor. Employers may also request that an applicant hold a minimum of 5 years of experience as a buyer or purchasing agent.

Voluntary certification for purchasing supervisors is available through the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The ISM offers the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) credential to applicants with three years of experience and a bachelor's degree. In order to gain CPSM designation, purchasing supervisors must pass three exams. Those holding a Certified Purchasing Manager credential may also gain a CPSM credential by passing the bridge exam. Additionally, the American Purchasing Society offers the Certified Professional Purchasing Manager and the Certified Professional Purchasing Consultant designations to purchasing supervisors.

Purchasing Supervisor Career Outlook

In 2015, purchasing managers earned a median annual salary of $108,120, with most making between $60,830 and $172,950 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Little or no change in employment numbers is expected for purchasing managers between 2014 and 2024, as per BLS projections, with employment likely to increase by only 1% during that time.

Companies and organizations hire purchasing supervisors to ensure adequate manufacturing materials, merchandise, or even office supplies are available at a workplace. With little or no expected employment growth through 2024, applicants can expect strong competition for purchasing supervisor jobs. Jobseekers can improve their odds with higher education, experience, and certification.

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