Director of Purchasing Job Description

Any organization interested in getting the best price possible for the goods and services it needs could benefit from hiring a director of purchasing. Thus, these professionals find employment in a range of industries, including manufacturing, retail, and government, to name a few. Most directors of purchasing work full time in an office environment, though they might also work on a production floor or travel offsite to meet with vendors. Overtime is common.


Director of Purchasing Duties and Responsibilities

While exact tasks will vary with the nature of the industry served, a look at job postings for director of purchasing positions reveals some common responsibilities. Any applicant should expect to do the following:

Manage Expenses

All companies want to increase their profits. The director of purchasing always has an eye open for ways to reduce expenses, generate better arrangements, and operate with greater efficiency. Negotiating deals is a central part of this process, as is researching which vendors offer the best services and prices.

Procure Goods and Services

Obtaining what the employer needs is the name of the game, whether that means securing raw materials so that products can be made or ensuring proper delivery of merchandise so that store shelves stay stocked. The director of purchasing and their team spend hours in contact with suppliers, shippers, and related outside parties discussing and confirming times, transportation, and terms. Creating purchase orders and formal contracts lays out specifics for both sides.


Business can’t stop just because something goes wrong. The director of purchasing must come up with alternative arrangements and new courses of action, perhaps by seeking a new vendor, making a substitution, or paying extra for rush delivery.

Oversee Operations

As an upper-level employee, the director of purchasing assumes a great deal of leadership. They manage budgets, set schedules, monitor inventory, analyze data, supervise other members of the department, hire new staff members, provide reports to top executives, and develop purchasing policy and procedures.


Director of Purchasing Skills and Qualifications

A director of purchasing needs to be a master multitasker to keep up with the demands of the position. Composure under pressure and the ability to problem-solve when things don’t go as planned are also critical to success. Getting the job done frequently involves the following:

  • Interpersonal skills – confidently interacting with a range of people both inside and outside of the company
  • Communication skills – expressing oneself clearly in both oral and written forms as well as being a good listener and posing excellent questions
  • Organization skills – meeting deadlines and managing various sources of incoming information requires having your act together
  • Negotiation skills – finding ways to get what you want, when you want it, and for an acceptable price requires mastering the art of persuasion
  • Computer competency – technology is vital to modern purchasing departments for everything from researching vendors to tracking orders
  • Mathematical aptitude – dealing with costs, quantities, timeframes, and other numerical concepts occurs daily
  • Global awareness – modern-day supply chains often involve international vendors, and directors of purchasing need to be aware of the regulations and policies of the countries with which they do business


Director of Purchasing Education and Training

At minimum, aspiring directors of purchasing should earn a bachelor’s degree. However, people holding a master’s in business administration or supply chain management definitely have an edge for securing this upper-level position. Likewise, employers often prefer candidates with industry certifications such as a CPP (Certified Purchasing Professional), CPPM (Certified Professional Purchasing Manager), or CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional). Various industry associations offer these credentials, which typically require a mixture of education, work experience, and passing an exam.

Directors of purchasing generally have at least five (and in most cases, more than 10) years of experience in a lesser position, such as buyer or purchasing agent. Becoming an organization’s chief procurement officer (CPO) is sometimes the ultimate career goal of a director of purchasing.


Director of Purchasing Salary and Outlook

Directors of purchasing, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies under the title “purchasing managers,” earn a median annual salary of $111,590. Those in the 10th percentile earn $63,380 a year, while the highest paid bring in $177,560 a year. Bonuses and profit sharing can boost total earnings. People holding this position also may be eligible for a variety of benefits, such as health insurance, paid vacation, and retirement plans.

According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, there are around 73,900 purchasing managers employed in the United States. This sector is projected to grow 5 percent by 2026, an increase of 4,000 jobs.


Helpful Resources

As you consider forging a career as a director of purchasing, the following sources will aid in the decision-making process:

American Purchasing Society – Since 1969, this organization has helped purchasing professionals connect with one another and advance their careers through continuing education.

The Procurement and Supply Manager’s Desk Reference – Written by two supply chain management experts, the second edition of this book covers a variety of topics of interest to directors of purchasing and similar professionals.

Logistics and Supply Chain Professionals – This LinkedIn group of more than 266,000 serves as a forum to share knowledge and encourage discussion about issues of interest to directors of purchasing and similar professionals.

APICS – Check out this organization’s website for the latest on supply chain management.


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