Certified Purchasing Manager Career Info and Education Requirements

Sep 07, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a certified purchasing manager. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification guidelines to find out if this is the career for you.

Certified purchasing managers are responsible for obtaining the best possible quality goods and services for their clients at the lowest possible cost. They also monitor stock and purchasing levels, and must have an understanding of product availability, managing inventory levels, and team management. A bachelor's degree in supply management or a related field, such as a business, is a good start for anyone entering this career.

Essential Information

Purchasing professionals have the pleasure of shopping as their main job function. A certified purchasing manager (CPM) is usually a buyer with several years of industry experience. Buyer, agent and manager are designations that vary by employer or industry. In organizations using more than one of those titles, the CPM is the top position. A business degree, especially with a focus in purchasing or supply management, is particularly useful for certified purchasing managers.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Certification Options Institute for Supply Management; American Purchasing Society; Association for Operations Management; Universal Public Purchasing Certification Council
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 7% decline for all buying and purchasing agents
Average Salary (2018)* $125,630 for all purchasing managers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Certified purchasing managers buy products, goods and services for their employers. Their goal is to obtain the best quality product at the lowest cost. This is accomplished through thorough knowledge of the goods and services being purchased. CPMs also know the sales records and inventories of their current stock. Price, availability and product reliability are other considerations certified purchasing managers take into account when negotiating with vendors and service providers.


In addition to supervising other purchasing staff, the routine responsibilities of a certified purchasing manager include researching suppliers, products and industry trends and serving as a member of upper management. He or she is also responsible for creating and monitoring a purchasing budget, producing purchasing reports and making purchase-related recommendations to management.

Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( reports that in May of 2018, purchasing managers earned an average annual wage of $125,630. In that group, the annual salary of the lowest ten percent was $69,860 or less, while the top ten percent made $187,060 or more.

Career Opportunities

Most purchasing professionals do not begin their careers in management roles. A purchasing agent who has accumulated enough experience on the job may be promoted to assistant purchasing manager before becoming a purchasing manager, supply manager, or director of materials management. At the highest job levels, a purchasing manager's duties might incorporate other management functions, including marketing, planning, production or logistics. Continuing education is vital for advancement in purchasing management, and earning a master's degree can also help purchasing managers move on to higher-level positions. Professional certification is also essential for career advancement.

Education Requirements

Most employers prefer to hire purchasing managers with a four-year college degree. A business degree, especially with a focus in purchasing or supply management, is particularly useful. Another good combination is an undergraduate degree in a technical field and a master's degree in business administration. Useful areas of study to prepare for a career in purchasing or supply management include business law, finance, negotiation tactics and business ethics. Employers prefer hiring applicants who are familiar with their company's products or services, so some industry-specific study may be helpful as well.


Certified purchasing managers must be able to effectively use the Internet as well as supply databases and word processing software. In addition to computer and technology skills, certified purchasing managers need to have good planning and mathematical abilities, be familiar with supply chain management, know how to perform financial analysis and also be able to analyze technical data. Foreign language skills are useful for those who want to work for international businesses.

Training Requirements

All purchasing staff, regardless of their degree status, must be trained in the particulars of their company's business. Entry-level job titles within the purchasing management field include junior or assistant buyer and purchasing clerk. Training methods for new purchasing managers can vary depending on the businesses and organizations that employ them. Trainees often work under close supervision as managerial assistants. Some businesses require their purchasing managers to attend training courses or take distance education classes in topics like supply chain management concepts and processes, pricing strategies and global sourcing.

Certification Information

There are several purchasing manager certification options, each with its own education and work experience requirements. Perhaps the best-known is the purchasing manager certificate conferred by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).

Currently, the ISM has a Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) certification available. The American Purchasing Society confers the Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) certificate. The Association for Operations Management offers a Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) certificate.

Purchasing professionals who work for government entities can earn a credential as a Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) or a Certified Public Purchasing Officer (CPPO) through the Universal Public Purchasing Certification Council.

Experience can play an important factor for employment for a certified purchasing manager to enter directly into a management position. Not all employers require certification, but a certification can increase job and salary prospects for any professional. Multiple certifications are available depending on a candidate's field and whether they are focusing on the private or public sector.

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