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Purchasing officers buy products for resale by their employer or services to be used by their employer on an enterprise level. They also purchase raw materials for production facilities. This involves tasks such as evaluating product quality, researching different vendors, and negotiating contracts. The industries that employ the most purchasing officers are manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, and the federal government. Purchasing officers usually work in an office setting, but periodic travel to supplier sites and vendor meetings is required. Success in this position requires strong organization and communication skills.
The role of purchasing officers is a junior-level position. The more complex logistical tasks are handled by the purchasing manager, who dictates which tasks are to be completed by the purchasing officers. Purchasing officers who excel at their job are promoted to senior purchasing officers before reaching the purchasing manager position. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for purchasing managers, buyers and purchasing agents, which includes purchasing officers, is set to decline 3 percent through 2026.
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Purchasing Officer Duties and Responsibilities
Purchasing products and services is more complex than it sounds. We researched dozens of purchasing officer job descriptions to come up with the following list of the most important duties and responsibilities of purchasing officers:
Purchasing officers evaluate suppliers before making purchasing decisions. This involves traveling to the supplier's location and examining their products, as well as interviewing the decision makers on the supplier's team to learn why their product is the best choice. Purchasing officers also compare suppliers using cost-benefit analysis.
Negotiate with Suppliers on Behalf of Employer
Purchasing officers act on behalf of their employer in the negotiation process. They must know their employer's budget thoroughly to negotiate. They must also have a deep understanding of their employer's needs and how the supplier in question meets those needs.
Work Out Logistical Agreements with Suppliers
It is the responsibility of purchasing officers to work out the logistical details with a supplier once a purchase has been made. This involves setting delivery amounts and a timeframe for delivery.
Maintain and Review Purchasing, Shipping, and Receiving Records
Purchasing officers have to maintain meticulous records of each purchase, as well as when each order was shipped out, and when the order was received. They must also monitor warehouse inventory to re-order items before they run out.
Attend Industry Trade Shows
Networking and staying on top of industry trends is a key part of being a good purchasing officer. Industry trade shows provide opportunities to learn about and build rapport with potential suppliers.
Purchasing Officer Skills
To be a good purchasing officer, one must have a certain set of technical and soft skills. On the technical side, purchasing officers should understand the foundational principles of logistics as well as have subject matter expertise in their particular industry to make sound purchasing decisions. Success in this position requires people who are willing to do their homework. They have to be able to analyze suppliers based on price, delivery speed, reputation, and a variety of other factors. A lot of research happens before the negotiation process. Finally, purchasing officers have to be excellent communicators. Successful negotiations often depend upon trust and likability. In addition to these traits, the following skills are required to get a job as a purchasing officer:
- Conducting comparative analysis of potential suppliers
- Building relationships with potential suppliers and other industry professionals at trade shows
- Analyzing financial and budget reports to determine negotiation budget
- Negotiating financial and logistical details with suppliers
- Using organization skills to maintain meticulous purchasing, shipping, and receiving records.
Purchasing Officer Tools of the Trade
Spreadsheet software – spreadsheets are used to compile and analyze financial reports and to compare supplier prices.
Inventory management software – purchasing officers use this software to reorder products or supplies that are running low
Purchasing Officer Education and Training
Purchasing officers usually have a bachelor’s degree in finance, business, logistics, or supply management. Coursework can include the principles of logistics, organizational communication, and basic economics. Most of the technical knowledge is learned through on-the-job training.
Purchasing Officer Salary
According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median salary for purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents, which includes purchasing officers, is $64,850. Those in the bottom 10 percent make less than $36,770, while those in the top 10 percent make above $119,820. Those in the top range are at the purchasing manager level.
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Purchasing Officer Resources
If you think a career in supply chain management as a purchasing officer is for you, check out the following list of resources.
American Purchasing Society
The American Purchasing Society is one of the oldest and largest organizations for purchasing professionals. It offers several certification levels and was the first organization in its industry to do so. The website contains a regularly updated blog, an events calendar, and a career development section.
Next Level Purchasing Association
The Next Level Purchasing Association is an organization committed to professional development. It offers a senior procurement management professional certification that can be used to help purchasing officers in their career advancement.
Procurify is one of the leading online publications in the supply chain procurement industry. Its content covers all areas of the supply chain process, with a dedicated section for purchasing management. In addition to written content, it produces webinars and a regular podcast.
Everything Supply Chain
This website contains resources and articles covering the entire supply chain process. Their archived articles on the purchasing process are mustreads for purchasing officers.
Leading Procurement Strategy: Driving Value Through the Supply Chain
This book is packed with updated academic theory regarding the procurement process, as well as recent case studies to show how these theories apply in realworld scenarios. It contains several purchasing strategies and principles relevant to purchasing officers.
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