A Buyer, or Purchasing Agent, is responsible for purchasing materials, supplies or equipment for a business. Their duties include negotiating deals with suppliers, researching possible item selections and taking inventory of current products.

Purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents

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What does a Buyer do?

Buyers work for offices or retail stores purchasing products and supplies for a business to either resell or use in the office. They take inventory or work with executives to determine which products the business needs. They’ll then conduct research to find the best product within the company’s budget. Buyers will negotiate a price with the suppliers, track the order’s progress after purchasing it, then add this item to their inventory. Some Buyers who work in offices meet with several departments to determine their supply needs and will make the necessary purchases to help the office remain productive and efficient.

Typically, many large corporate retailers require Buyers to have at least a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting or a related field. Buyers may also elect to pursue a graduate degree such as an MBA (master’s degree in business administration) to further their qualifications and advancement opportunities. To be competitive, Buyer candidates could have a Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) or related certification.

Purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents


Purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents typically need a bachelor’s degree. Programs vary but may include fields of study such as military technologies. Purchasing managers also need 5 or more years of work experience in procurement.

Educational requirements for buyers and purchasing agents usually vary with the size of the organization. Although a high school diploma may be enough at some organizations, many businesses require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. For many positions, a degree in business, finance, or supply management is sufficient. For positions as a buyer or purchasing agent of farm products, a degree in agriculture, agriculture production, or animal science may be beneficial.


Buyers and purchasing agents typically get on-the-job training for a few months. During this time, they learn how to perform their basic duties, including monitoring inventory levels and negotiating with suppliers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The American Purchasing Society offers the Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) certification. The CPP 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 published articles or delivered speeches).

The Association for Supply Chain Management offers the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. Applicants must have 3 years of relevant business experience or a bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible for the CSCP credential. The credential 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, possess at least 3 years of public procurement experience, and complete relevant training courses. The Certified Public Purchasing Officer (CPPO) requires applicants to have earned a bachelor’s degree, possess at least 5 years of public procurement experience, and complete additional training courses.

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.


Important Qualities

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

Math skills. Purchasing managers and buyers and purchasing agents must possess 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 and buyers and purchasing agents 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 negotiations.



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