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Purchasing Manager Career

How to Become a Purchasing Manager

If you have a passion for procurement, enjoy negotiating, and have excellent communication and analytical skills, then a career as a purchasing manager might be the perfect fit for you.

Purchasing managers play a crucial role in the success of a business. They’re responsible for selecting and purchasing goods or services that fit within a company’s budget and meet its needs. Purchasing managers must establish strong relationships with vendors, suppliers, and potential clients to carry out their duties effectively. They must also work closely with colleagues in various departments such as finance, sales, and inventory management. Read on to learn the necessary steps to pursue and succeed on this exciting career path.

What Is a Purchasing Manager?

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A purchasing manager is responsible for sourcing, negotiating, and procuring products and services for a company. They work collaboratively with different departments to ensure the organization's supply chain aligns with the business objectives. A purchasing manager's primary responsibility is to guarantee that the company's purchases are aligned with the organization's goals and objectives while optimizing spending as much as possible.

Communication and collaboration are essential in this role. Purchasing managers must make sure that all parties are aligned and satisfied with the products and services acquired. The position requires strategic thinking, strong analytical skills, and a deep understanding of global market trends. One example of a situation that may arise is when a vendor is experiencing delays in delivering goods. In this case, the purchasing manager would need to analyze the problem by identifying the reasons for the delay,

determining its impact on the company, and formulating a plan to mitigate any potential negative consequences. This solution may involve finding an alternative vendor, negotiating a new delivery timeline with the current vendor, or collaborating with other departments to adjust production schedules. The purchasing manager's ability to think critically and find creative solutions is crucial in ensuring that the company remains successful and efficient. Overall, a purchasing manager is a vital asset to any company because their work impacts the organization's bottom line and growth strategy.

How Do I Become a Purchasing Manager?

To be successful, a purchasing manager needs to be prepared to spend their days:

  • Coordinating buyer and purchasing agent activities for buying supplies, equipment, or materials their employer needs.
  • Hiring and training new purchasing agents and buyers.
  • Researching and evaluating potential suppliers to determine if they have a favorable price, quality, and speed of delivery.
  • Meeting with vendors and visiting their distribution centers or plants to see their products and services.
  • Analyzing price proposals, financial reports, and other relevant information to decide on a purchase.
  • Negotiating contracts with suppliers and vendors for favorable conditions.
  • Ensuring vendors meet the terms and conditions in their contract.

How Do I Become a Purchasing Manager?

To become a purchasing manager, you typically need a bachelor's degree in business management, business administration, supply chain and operations management, or finance. Next, you'll want to apply for entry-level experience in procurement or inventory management. It’s important to use this time to develop your negotiation, decision-making, and cost analysis skills. Certifications from professional organizations such as the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) or the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing can also help you establish your credentials and advance your career. Additionally, some employers require purchasing managers to have an MBA, which signifies much deeper industry knowledge and leadership skills. Finally, keep in mind that continuous learning and adaptation to changes in the market are essential to succeed as a purchasing manager. 

Best Degrees for a Purchasing Manager

Business Management – B.S. Business Administration

Hone your business acumen and garner added respect:...

Hone your business acumen and garner added...

Hone your business acumen and garner added respect:

  • Time: 68% of graduates finish within 36 months.
  • Tuition: $3,755 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Account executive
  • Business analyst
  • Program manager
  • Director or senior director
  • Vice president

This online degree program is an excellent choice for kick-starting your organizational management career.

Finance – B.S.

This online finance program is career-focused so you will gain...

This online finance program is career-focused so...

This online finance program is career-focused so you will gain relevant industry skills.

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish similar programs within 42 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 41 courses in this program.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Financial analyst
  • Finance director 
  • Investment banker
  • Insurance agent
  • Accountant

The competency-based model at WGU allows you to move as quickly as you can master the material, and do your coursework on your schedule. Flexibility is key with the B.S. in finance at WGU.

Leadership Certificate – College of Business

Enhance your résumé and take a step in your educational journey...

Enhance your résumé and take a step in your...

Enhance your résumé and take a step in your educational journey with the help of a leadership certificate from the College of Business, powered by WGU Academy.

  • Time: 4 months from start to finish.
  • Cost: $2,250 for the certificate.
  • Courses: 3 courses total in this program.

This program is for emerging leaders, however this program does not require a bachelor’s degree, and provides transferable credit towards a WGU degree program.

Whether you aspire to work for a Fortune 500 organization, a government agency, a non-profit organization, or a fast-paced start-up, this certificate can give you the keys to success in a variety of industries, including:

  • Finance and Banking
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • IT
  • Consulting
  • Nonprofit
  • Government

Supply Chain and Operations Management – B.S.

This online supply chain and operations management program will...

This online supply chain and operations...

This online supply chain and operations management program will prepare you for real-world experiences in business.

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish similar programs within 42 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 41 courses in this program.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Operations Manager
  • Facilities Manager
  • Industrial Production Manager
  • Distribution Manager 
  • Buyer/Purchasing Agent
  • Project Management Specialist

With incredible growth opportunities in supply chain and operations management, this program helps prepare student to meet industry needs and become credentialed experts.

Master of Business Administration

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business...

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on...

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business management, strategy, and leading teams:

  • Time: Graduates can finish in 12 months.
  • Tuition: $4,755 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • President and CEO
  • Vice president
  • Executive director
  • Chief strategic officer

Our competency-based model gives you an innovative learning experience you won't find anywhere else—and our MBA grads tell us they loved accelerating their program to see a faster ROI.

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No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!


Learn about online college admissions at WGU.

What Skills Does a Purchasing Manager Need?

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A purchasing manager must balance their company's needs with those of their suppliers by using the following skills: 

  • Strong communication
  • Active listening 
  • Critical thinking 
  • Problem-solving
  • Leadership 
  • Negotiation 
  • Planning
  • Organization
  • Budgeting
  • Computer and technology knowledge


How Much Does a Purchasing Manager Make?


According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for purchasing managers in 2021 was $127,150. Compensation can vary depending on location, industry, and experience.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


Employment of purchasing managers is projected to decline by 6% from 2021 to 2031 due to increased automation and outsourcing tasks. Even with this decrease in job growth, the advancing complexity of global supply chains creates the need for skilled purchasing managers to oversee cost control and supply chain efficiency.

Where Does a Purchasing Manager Work?


Purchasing managers work in diverse industries, from retail and manufacturing to healthcare and government. They may work for large corporations, small businesses, or nonprofit organizations, and their responsibilities vary depending on the size and complexity of the organization. Some purchasing managers work in an office environment while others may need to travel to meet with suppliers and vendors.


Interested in Becoming a Purchasing Manager?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this lucrative career.

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