Professional buyers purchase products and inventory on behalf of stores or businesses. They rarely own the business issue or problem related to the products and are buying for those in their organisation – they may oversee all the product purchasing or possibly focus on a particular line if they work for a large company or department store. For example, check out products available from Sourcengine for an idea of how you can bulk buy electronic components and products.
Buyers continually evaluate suppliers and negotiate contracts with the vendors. They need to make connections and learn about new trends in their industry through trade shows or conferences. This means that travel is necessary, sometimes outside of their homeland. It also often requires workers to put in overtime when necessary.
Education Level: Bachelor’s Degree
Degree Field: Supply chain management, distribution management or business administration
Experience: 1-5 years buying experience with several years in a relevant industry.
Certification: Voluntary certification is available whilst some employers require certification for senior positions
Key Skills: Negotiation and decision-making skills, communication and analysis, a strong business sense
Avg. Salary in US: $57,918 (wholesale and retail buyers)
- Bachelor’s Degree
A supply chain management degree can be very beneficial for a career as a buyer. This qualification will help you learn about various aspects of business, you will learn to manage and coordinate products. It will typically cover key topics such as negotiations, planning and operations, logistics and strategy development. A degree in supply chain management can prepare you to work in a variety of industries – fashion, electrical retail, healthcare.
An internship can be invaluable experience in the field and provides an opportunity to develop analysis and purchasing experience. You will work under the supervision of an experienced buyer who will teach you about supply and demand, strategic negotiations, inventory management. Having an internship alongside your degree will massively boost your chances of landing a job after you graduate.
- Work Experience
To begin with, you may start out with a temporary or contract job to obtain the necessary experience to become a professional buyer. Your duties include searching for new vendors, analysing business trends, purchasing products at negotiated prices, and formulating business plans. This is a chance to develop a buying specialization, which is important as employers will commonly seek candidates who have several years of experience in a specific field and a familiarity with the products and goods they distribute.
- Work as a professional buyer
Once you have worked in the field for around 1-5 years, you might now be in a position to attain a more prestigious professional buyer role with additional responsibilities. Senior Buyers ideally require 7 or more years of experience working in the field and an additional 5 or more years in the relevant buying industry.
Earning professional credentials shows your abilities and can help you stand out from the crowd. Some employers will even require certification. It could also open the door to a higher salary. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) offers certification to buyers and other supply chain professionals.