How To Become A Purchasing Manager: A Step-By-Step Guide

Updated 31 July 2023

A purchasing manager, also known as a purchase manager, oversees the purchase of raw materials, supplies and other products for a business. They also negotiate with suppliers and vendors to ensure the timely acquisition of goods at effective prices. If you want to build your career in supply chain management, you can consider becoming a purchase manager. In this article, we discuss how to become a purchasing manager, the duties and responsibilities of the role, the expected salary and the vital skills to succeed in this position.

Related: Guide: What Does A Purchase Manager Do In A Company?

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What Does A Purchasing Manager Do?

The purchasing manager is responsible for the efficient functioning of an organization's procurement strategies. They assess the purchasing needs, evaluate and identify suitable suppliers and negotiate supply contracts with them. Additionally, the purchasing manager also supervises the work of the purchasing clerk, purchase assistant, purchasing agents, and other employees within the procurement team. Here are some of the primary responsibilities of a purchase manager:

  • Create, evaluate and improve procurement strategies: Purchasing managers are responsible for optimizing the procurement strategy. They identify ways to decrease supply costs, eliminate wastes and ensure a timely supply of raw materials and products.

  • Monitor inventory levels: They track inventory levels, ensure the optimal maintenance of inventory, devise ways to eliminate outdated stock profitably, and avoid overstocking.

  • Negotiate contracts with suppliers: Purchase managers evaluate different suppliers and choose the right suppliers. They then negotiate supply contracts to procure the best quality products at competitive and appropriate prices.

  • Build supplier networks: Purchase managers attend various industry events like trade fairs and exhibitions to stay up-to-date with the latest products and services in the market. They also build a network of reliable suppliers to order from when required.

  • Manage the purchasing team: As the leader of the purchasing department, the purchasing manager trains and guides other employees. They also assist with hiring recruits for the team, setting departmental goals, and ensuring that all team members work together efficiently.

  • Oversees bookkeeping: The purchase manager liaisons with the organization's finance department to understand the sales patterns, monitor inventory levels, and make informed decisions regarding future purchases.

Related: What Is A Logistics Manager? (With Salary And Skills)

How To Become A Purchasing Manager

If you are wondering how to become a purchasing manager, you can consider several career paths. For example, you can join an entry-level role in an organization's purchasing department and move to bigger roles as you acquire the experience and necessary certifications. Alternatively, you can begin your career as a junior purchase manager with the right educational qualifications and management training. Some companies require purchase managers to have the essential capabilities and technical knowledge, whereas others promote candidates with sufficient work experience and on-the-job training.

Related: How To Write A Purchasing Manager Resume (With Example)

Here are the steps you can follow to begin your career as a purchasing manager:

1. Get a bachelor's in business-related fields

Generally, companies prefer candidates with bachelor's degrees in business administration, operations management, supply chain marketing, or other related fields. These programs equip students with formal knowledge of various business-related subjects like finance, accounting, marketing, operations, and human resource management that come into use on the job. While choosing a bachelor's degree, look for courses that offer you strong fundamentals in financial analysis, supply chain management, and data analysis.

Having a bachelor's degree can help you get an entry-level role in purchasing. You can eventually move onto managerial positions once you gain adequate work experience. Some of the popular undergraduate courses that you can consider are:

  • BBA in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

  • BBA in Business Analytics

  • BBA in Operations Management

  • BA in Economics

  • B.Com with Computer Applications

2. Join an entry-level role

Once you graduate, you can apply for entry-level roles in the purchasing department of organizations. Some of the popular entry-level roles in purchasing include purchasing assistant, purchase agent and assistant buyer. An entry-level position gives you the practical experience and training needed to move into bigger roles in the future. You can also consider an internship during your undergraduate study to build an impressive resume and gain first-hand knowledge about the operations of the purchasing department.

Several companies offer in-house training for freshers. The training program can last from one to five years, depending on the company and industry. During the training, you learn concepts like invoicing, merchandising, inventory management, and sales supervision that equip you to become a purchasing manager in the future.

Related: 17 Industries That Offer Internships For College Students

3. Get certified

Once you have gained sufficient work experience, you can consider applying for professional certification. Professional certifications in supply chain management, logistics and operations equip you with the latest tools and knowledge in the industry. It also helps you acquire essential skills like negotiation and problem-solving. Having a professional certification helps differentiate your resume from your competitors, increasing your chances of promotion to the role of a purchasing manager. Here are some of the popular certifications to become a purchase manager:

  • Certified International Advanced Procurement Professional (CIAPP): This is an online program for procurement executives with five years of experience. It lasts for 12 months and helps you build your skills in strategic sourcing, category management, purchasing contracts, negotiations and legal aspects of procurement.

  • Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM): Candidates with a bachelor's degree from any recognized university and three years of work experience in supply chain management can apply for this course. You can take the exam at any IIMM (Indian Institute of Materials Management) center in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi or Pune.

  • Certified Procurement Professional (CPP): The Institute for Supply Management (India) offers this online course and certification for procurement professionals. The course provides training in various modules like cost price analysis, strategic sourcing, risk management, supplier relationship management and contracting.

4. Consider a master's degree

Some companies require candidates to have a master's degree to qualify for the position of purchase manager. While choosing a master's degree, consider programs that focus on contract negotiations, logistics, operations, supply chain, and channel management. Though a post-graduate degree is not mandatory, it can increase your chances of success in the field.

Essential Skills To Become A Successful Purchase Manager

Besides technical skills like supply chain management, purchasing, invoicing and financing, purchase managers also require other soft skills. Some of the crucial skills to help you succeed in this career include:

  • Negotiating skills: These help purchasing managers procure the best raw materials and supplies at the best prices. Being adept in negotiating costs, delivery timelines, and other specifications with suppliers can help you do your job efficiently.

  • Interpersonal skills: These skills are essential as there may be situations where things do not proceed as per plan. The purchasing manager's duties include problem-solving and working with suppliers and vendors to resolve issues diplomatically, making it a win-win situation for all.

  • Relationship management: This is another crucial skill for purchasing managers, and it helps them build smooth, professional relationships with suppliers, thereby ensuring timely supplies at better prices with bigger discounts.

  • Industry-specific knowledge: Using this ability helps purchase managers understand the specs of raw materials and work out optimal ways to minimize productivity losses. For example, some engineering firms hire purchasing managers from an engineering background as they have a comprehensive knowledge of the products.

  • Data analysis skills: These can help purchase managers optimize their supply chains. Having basic data analysis skills can help you identify patterns and trends, making informed purchasing decisions that boost revenue.

  • Decision-making skills: These help purchase managers make informed and timely decisions based on the available data. It also allows them to choose between suppliers by evaluating price, delivery, quality, service and other criteria.

Related: 10 Valuable Data Analysis Skills

How Long Does It Take To Become A Purchasing Manager?

The time it takes to become a purchasing manager depends on your qualification and current role. For example, for a fresher with an entry-level position in the purchasing department, it generally takes around five to seven years to move on to the role of a purchasing manager. Additionally, some companies require purchasing managers to hold professional certifications and master's, which takes even longer.

Related: 5 Tips To Boost Your Career Growth For Professional Success

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Salary Of A Purchasing Manager

The average monthly pay of a purchasing manager is around ₹29,509. The salary varies based on the candidate's location, organization, and experience. For example, purchasing managers in Kolkata draw an average monthly pay of ₹32,886, whereas the same position in Pune gets an average monthly salary of ₹31,250. You can increase your income by being open to relocation and undergoing the necessary training and certifications to improve your skills.

When you initially join an organization in an entry-level role, you are likely to get lower pay. For example, the average monthly income of a purchasing clerk is ₹21,892, and the monthly salary of a purchasing assistant is ₹16,884. You can improve your earnings as you gain experience and move up in your career to bigger positions in the purchasing department.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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