Purchasing Managers

Summary

Purchasing managers oversee the work of buyers and purchasing agents.
Quick Facts: Purchasing Managers
2016 Median Pay $111,590 per year
$53.65 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation 5 years or more
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 73,000
Job Outlook, 2014-24 1% (Little or no change)
Employment Change, 2014-24 700

What Purchasing Managers Do

Purchasing managers plan, direct, and coordinate the buying of materials, products, or services for wholesalers, retailers, or organizations. They oversee the work of procurement-related occupations including buyers and purchasing agents.

Work Environment

Most purchasing managers work full time. Many work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Purchasing Manager

Purchasing managers need a bachelor’s degree and work experience as a buyer or purchasing agent.

Pay

The median annual wage for purchasing managers was $111,590 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of purchasing managers is projected to show little or no change from 2014 to 2024. These workers will be needed to oversee the purchasing of goods and services for business operations or for resale to customers. Employment growth will vary with the type of purchasing manager and the specific industry.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for purchasing managers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of purchasing managers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about purchasing managers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Purchasing Managers Do About this section

Purchasing managers typically handle negotiations and purchases that are more complicated than those handled by buyers and purchasing agents.

Purchasing managers plan, direct, and coordinate the buying of materials, products, or services for wholesalers, retailers, or organizations. They oversee the work of procurement-related occupations including buyers and purchasing agents.

Duties

Purchasing managers typically do the following:

  • Coordinate the activities of buyers and purchasing agents engaged in buying materials, equipment, or supplies for the organization
  • Supervise, hire, and train staff
  • Evaluate potential suppliers on the basis of price, quality, and speed of delivery
  • Interview vendors and visit suppliers’ plants and distribution centers to examine and learn about products, services, and prices
  • Attend meetings, trade shows, and conferences to learn about new industry trends and make contacts with suppliers
  • Analyze price proposals, financial reports, and other information to determine reasonable prices
  • Negotiate contracts on behalf of their organization
  • Work out agreements with suppliers, such as when products will be delivered
  • Meet with staff and vendors to discuss defective or unacceptable goods or services and determine corrective action
  • Ensure that vendors and suppliers comply with the terms and conditions of the contract and, if they don’t, determine the need for changes

Purchasing managers plan and coordinate the work of buyers and purchasing agents and hire and train new staff.

Purchasing managers, sometimes known as contract managers, are also responsible for developing their organization’s procurement policies and procedures. These policies help ensure that procurement professionals are meeting ethical standards to avoid potential conflicts of interest or inappropriate supplier and customer relations.

Besides establishing procurement standards, purchasing managers set guidelines on how often their department will get price quotes for items, how many bids to accept, and which vendors to consider.

In addition to carrying out their managerial and administrative responsibilities, purchasing managers buy goods and services for their organization or institution. Like buyers and purchasing agents, purchasing managers negotiate contracts and consider price, quality, availability, reliability, and technical support when identifying and choosing suppliers and merchandise. Their negotiations and contracts are typically more complex than those carried out by buyers and purchasing agents.

Purchasing managers must study their organization’s sales records and inventory levels of current stock, identify foreign and domestic suppliers, and keep up to date with changes affecting both the supply of, and demand for, products and materials.

Purchasing managers use many resources to find out all they can about potential suppliers. They attend meetings, trade shows, and conferences to learn about new industry trends and to make contacts with suppliers.

Before signing a contract and placing an order, purchasing managers must make certain that the supplier can deliver the desired goods or services on time, in the correct quantities, and without sacrificing quality. Purchasing managers monitor the terms of the contracts in order to ensure that the supplier is complying with its terms and conditions and resolve any supplier-related issues that arise.

Work Environment About this section

Purchasing managers work in offices, although travel is sometimes necessary.

Purchasing managers held about 73,000 jobs in 2014. The largest employers of purchasing managers were as follows:

Manufacturing 30%
Management of companies and enterprises 16
Wholesale trade 12
Professional, scientific, and technical services 8
Federal government 8

Most purchasing managers work in offices. Travel is sometimes necessary, and purchasers for global organizations may need to travel outside the United States.

Work Schedules

Most purchasing managers work full time. Overtime is common in this occupation.

How to Become a Purchasing Manager About this section

Purchasing managers usually have at least a bachelor’s degree and some work experience in the field.

Purchasing managers need a bachelor’s degree and work experience as a buyer or purchasing agent.

Education

Purchasing managers usually have at least a bachelor’s degree and some work experience in procurement. A master’s degree may be required for advancement to some top-level purchasing manager jobs.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Purchasing managers typically must have at least 5 years of experience as a buyer or purchasing agent. At the top levels, purchasing manager duties may overlap with other management functions, such as production, planning, logistics, and marketing.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

There are several certifications available for purchasing managers and others employed in a procurement-related field. Although some employers require certification, many do not.

Most of the certifications involve oral or written exams and have education and work experience requirements.

The Institute for Supply Management offers the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) credential, which covers a wide scope of purchasing professional duties. To receive the CPSM credential, candidates must pass three exams and possess at least 3 years of relevant work experience for those with a bachelor’s degree or 5 years of relevant work experience for those without a bachelor’s degree.

The American Purchasing Society offers the Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) and the Certified Professional Purchasing Manager (CPPM) credentials. Certification is valid for 5 years. Candidates must earn a certain number of professional development “points” to renew their certification. Candidates initially become eligible, and can renew their certification, through a combination of purchasing-related experience, education, and professional contributions (such as articles published or speeches delivered).

APICS, founded as the American Production and Inventory Control Society, offers the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. Applicants must have 3 years of related business experience or a bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible for the CSCP credential, which is valid for 5 years. Candidates must also earn a certain number of professional development points to renew their certification.

The Next Level Purchasing Association offers the Senior Professional in Supply Management (SPSM) certification. Although there are no education or work experience requirements, applicants must complete six online courses and pass an SPSM exam. Certification is valid for 4 years. Candidates must complete 32 continuing education hours in procurement-related topics to recertify for an additional 4-year period.

The Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC) offers two certifications for workers in federal, state, and local government. The Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) credential requires applicants to have earned at least an associate’s degree, to have at least 3 years of public procurement experience, and to complete relevant training courses. The Certified Public Purchasing Officer (CPPO) requires applicants to have earned a bachelor’s degree, to have at least 5 years of public procurement experience, and to complete additional training courses.

Those with the CPPB or the CPPO designation must renew their certification every 5 years by completing continuing education courses or attending procurement-related conferences or events.

The National Institute of Government Purchasing’s (NIGP’s) Institute for Public Procurement offers preparation courses for the UPPCC certification exams.

Advancement

An experienced and qualified purchasing manager may advance to become the chief procurement officer for a business or organization.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. When evaluating suppliers, purchasing managers must analyze their options and choose a supplier with the best combination of price, quality, delivery, service, or other criteria. 

Decisionmaking skills. Purchasing managers must have the ability to make informed and timely decisions, choosing products that they think will sell. 

Math skills. Purchasing managers must possess basic math skills. They must be able to compare prices from different suppliers to ensure that their organization is getting the best deal. 

Negotiating skills. Purchasing managers often must negotiate the terms of a contract with a supplier. Interpersonal skills and self-confidence, in addition to knowledge of the product, can help lead to successful negotiation.

Pay About this section

Purchasing Managers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Operations specialties managers

$112,080

Purchasing managers

$111,590

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for purchasing managers was $111,590 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $63,380, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $177,560.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for purchasing managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $128,050
Federal government 127,030
Management of companies and enterprises 122,190
Manufacturing 103,030
Wholesale trade 100,660

Most purchasing managers work full time. Overtime is common in this occupation.

Job Outlook About this section

Purchasing Managers

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Operations specialties managers

7%

Total, all occupations

7%

Purchasing managers

1%

 

Employment of purchasing managers is projected to show little or no change from 2014 to 2024.

These workers will continue to be needed to oversee the purchase of goods and services for business operations or for resale to customers. In addition, purchasing managers often play an important role in controlling costs for an organization.

However, some organizations may increasingly rely on third parties to handle some of the tasks previously performed by purchasing managers, such as business strategy development and contract management.

In the public sector, employment demand may be negatively impacted by the increasing use of cooperative purchasing agreements. These agreements allow state, local, and municipal governments to share resources in order to buy supplies and make other general purchases. Because the same standard contracts can be used multiple times by multiple government agencies, the rise of purchasing cooperatives will likely limit the need to hire additional procurement officers and managers.

The projected decline in the manufacturing industry should also limit the demand for purchasing managers employed within that industry.

Job Prospects

As with many other managerial positions, competition for jobs is expected to be strong. Candidates for purchasing manager positions may improve their prospects by obtaining a master’s degree in business or supply management. 

Employment projections data for purchasing managers, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Purchasing managers

11-3061 73,000 73,700 1 700 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of purchasing managers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Administrative services managers

Administrative Services Managers

Administrative services managers plan, direct, and coordinate supportive services of an organization. Their specific responsibilities vary, but administrative service managers typically maintain facilities and supervise activities that include recordkeeping, mail distribution, and office upkeep.

Bachelor's degree $90,050
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in products or services. They work with art directors, sales agents, and financial staff members.

Bachelor's degree $127,560
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks produce financial records for organizations. They record financial transactions, update statements, and check financial records for accuracy.

Some college, no degree $38,390
Purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents

Buyers and Purchasing Agents

Buyers and purchasing agents buy products and services for organizations to use or resell. They evaluate suppliers, negotiate contracts, and review the quality of products.

Bachelor's degree $60,700
Financial clerks

Financial Clerks

Financial clerks do administrative work for many types of organizations. They keep records, help customers, and carry out financial transactions.

High school diploma or equivalent $38,080
Financial managers

Financial Managers

Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.

Bachelor's degree $121,750
Food service managers

Food Service Managers

Food service managers are responsible for the daily operation of restaurants and other establishments that prepare and serve food and beverages. They direct staff to ensure that customers are satisfied with their dining experience, and they manage the business to ensure that it is profitable.

High school diploma or equivalent $50,820
Industrial production managers

Industrial Production Managers

Industrial production managers oversee the daily operations of manufacturing and related plants. They coordinate, plan, and direct the activities used to create a wide range of goods, such as cars, computer equipment, or paper products.

Bachelor's degree $97,140
Lodging managers

Lodging Managers

Lodging managers ensure that guests on vacation or business travel have a pleasant experience at a hotel, motel, or other types of establishment with accommodations. They also ensure that the establishment is run efficiently and profitably.

High school diploma or equivalent $51,840
Logisticians

Logisticians

Logisticians analyze and coordinate an organization’s supply chain—the system that moves a product from supplier to consumer. They manage the entire life cycle of a product, which includes how a product is acquired, distributed, allocated, and delivered.

Bachelor's degree $74,170
Sales managers

Sales Managers

Sales managers direct organizations' sales teams. They set sales goals, analyze data, and develop training programs for organizations’ sales representatives.

Bachelor's degree $117,960
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives

Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. They contact customers, explain product features, answer any questions that their customers may have, and negotiate prices.

See How to Become One $60,530
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Purchasing Managers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/purchasing-managers.htm (visited April 30, 2017).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

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2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.