Purchasing Careers: Options, Job Titles, and Descriptions

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Are you interested in business operations and processes? Do you also enjoy shopping and comparing prices? If so, you might enjoy the world of purchasing. Any business that depends upon smart purchases for equipment, inventory, and even contracted services must invest in a good team of purchasing professionals.

Purchasing Career Options

Purchasing agents, buyers, and purchasing managers buy products and services for an organization to use or resell. Some purchasing agents are required to stay on top of equipment depreciation and make the necessary upgrades on time and within a budget. Other purchasing agents work as full operations managers that oversee all purchasing decisions as part of their supply chain management duties.

In most industries, purchasing requires people that can weigh options, work against fast deadlines, and multitask calendars for product launches and budgets.

As businesses and manufacturing continue to modernize themselves using productivity software and outsourcing agents, purchasing decisions must be made quickly to both meet customer demand and maintain product/service quality.

Purchasing Job and Education Requirements

Those entering a typical office job within a supply chain or manufacturing company often work inside the purchasing department. Ideally, those working in purchasing should earn a college degree, though some of the lower-level positions do not require employees to have a college degree. However, even those without a college degree must be able to think logically and do basic math calculations if they want a future in purchasing. 

If you want to climb the corporate ladder in purchasing, you will most like need a bachelor’s degree before you can assume positions such as Purchasing Manager or Logistician. Those holding these types of positions, such as Operations Managers, may go on to get a master of business administration (MBA).

Purchasing Job Titles

Below are some job title lists and their categories for purchasing positions.

Purchasing Manager: The entire purchasing process in a business is overseen by a purchasing manager. In small operations, the purchasing manager may also act as the purchasing agent, but in large operations, the purchasing manager may oversee a number of agents and procurement clerks. Purchasing Managers often answer to, or work closely with, Operations Managers and/or Logisticians. Because of the increase in outsourcing and software services, this profession is expected to decline by 4% by 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

  • Buyer
  • Commodity Manager
  • Procurement Director
  • Procurement Officer
  • Strategic Sourcing Director
  • Purchasing Agent
  • Materials Manager
  • Purchasing Director
  • Category Purchasing Manager
  • Materials Director
  • Procurement Manager
  • Purchasing Supervisor

Buyer Agent: Within the Buyer Agent job description, the industry distinguishes between farm, retail/wholesale, and non-retail buyers. Typically, each job category requires a certain amount of experience within that industry’s operations. These Buyer Agents must be well-acquainted with consumer behavior and how that behavior affects the needs of the company. They often act on behalf of the Purchasing Manager or Operations Manager.

  • Buyer
  • Purchasing Agent
  • Procurement Official
  • Purchasing Administrator
  • Procurement Specialist

Procurement Clerk: As the name implies, these clerks manage a majority of the paperwork associated with purchases and bids. Purchasing Managers and agents lean heavily on their Procurement Clerks to make sure that all contracts are drafted properly, and that there are no discrepancies in the paperwork prior to, during, and after a purchase.

  • Buyer
  • Procurement Assistant
  • Procurement Officer
  • Procurement Technician
  • Purchasing Associate
  • Purchasing Specialist
  • Warehouse Clerk
  • Procurement Specialist
  • Purchasing Assistant
  • Purchasing Clerk

Logistician: Purchasing is a major responsibility of Logisticians, and they uniquely manage purchasing on the front- and back-end of their job. For example, most Logisticians oversee the company’s product purchases before coordinating relationships between their company and the Purchasing Agents at other companies. That being said, Logisticians often work in firms that supply products purchased by other firms.

One of the more vital roles within the purchasing industry, Logisticians are increasingly in higher demand by companies, with expected job growth of 30% through 2030, according to BLS data. They also make a decent wage, with the median salary hovering around $76,000.

  • Client Services Administrator
  • Logistics Team Lead
  • Operations Vice President
  • Program Manager
  • Supportability Engineer
  • Logistics Director
  • Logistic Vice President
  • Production Planner
  • Supervisory Supply Management Specialist

Operations Manager: Operations Managers are also commonly known as General Managers, and they oversee purchasing operations within their company. With the advent of software services, many of these managers simply handle purchasing themselves or with the help of a Procurement Clerk.

Ops Managers are critical in most companies, and they exist across all industries involving supply chains and manufacturing. Operations Managers are paid well, with a median salary of $103,650, according to BLS data.

  • General Manager
  • Business Manager
  • Plant Manager
  • Production Manager
  • Facilities Manager
  • Operations Director
  • Operations Manager
  • Plant Superintendent
  • Store Manager