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What do Buyers do?
If you have ever seen a job advertisement for a Buyer it would initially seem that most people can do that job – After all, many adults Buy numerous products. They make purchases from clothes to food or cars; sometimes even houses or boats. Some adults buy luxurious items and exciting experiences or useless trinkets and pointless services. All of us have done some sort of buying and the more adventurous of us have even negotiated hard to get the best deal possible! Unfortunately the role of a Buyer is not that simple. If you want to make a career for yourself as a professional Buyer you need a certain set of skills and experience.
Let’s take a look at what Buyers really do.
Buyers are also known as Procurement agents or Purchasing clerks as well as many derivatives. Essentially a company Buyer must source appropriate goods or services to meet a company need. In the manufacturing world, an experienced Buyer can understand a highly complex Bill of Materials – (list of goods) that will be used to make a complex product. The Buyer must understand the technical requirements that are being specified and then be able to source suppliers that can meet those specifications. In the Aerospace and Defense community many company’s work to AS9100 where products must meet very strict manufacturing criteria. The Buyer then must have to negotiate pricing and delivery schedules based on manufacturing deadlines. Many Buyers use ERP systems, a shared database that supports multiple functions used by different business units, that allow their company to track and trace orders and move them through the manufacturing process. That way all goods ordered, or changes to orders are documented so there are no disputes as to pricing or specification changes. In essence, the Buyers role is to find high-quality supplies at a negotiateable price from a dependable supplier.
What’s the career path for a Buyer?
Many people move into Buying from Production Planning as they can understand the manufacturing process and the impact on late orders to the schedule. Production Planners fix the production goals and estimate the resources which are required to achieve these goals. Initially, a Buyer may be called Purchasing clerk or purchasing assistant. As the Buyer experience grows they may become Senior Buyers or Purchasing Manager or even Materials Directors. At more senior levels a Buyer may pursue a more formal training certificate such as CPM or CPIM through companies such as APICS, American Production and Inventory Control Society. There are cases where Buyers move up to other managerial positions such as a Supply Chain Manager or even a Strategic Sourcing Manager. Gaining experience in a Buyer role can lead to many new and exciting career paths.
What do Buyers earn?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay is $60,700 per year. Our more personal experience with Buyer salaries ranges between $50 – 60,000 per year for experienced candidates. Many times, Buyers are also paid commission and/or bonuses for their services.