If you have an eye for detail and order, excellent math and computer skills, a penchant for analyzing different sorts of purchasing situations, and the ability to listen, persuade and negotiate, then a career as a procurement specialist may be an excellent fit. Procurement specialists are crucial to a company’s supply chain management, which includes planning and forecasting, purchasing, product assembly, and transporting, storing and keeping track of a product as it flows through the consumer pipeline.
Procurement specialists, also known as procurement or purchasing managers and agents, can be found in numerous types of business, from manufacturing to retail to government. These professionals manage vendor relationships and oversee order placement, including of raw materials. In some industries, procurement specialists also track overall spending and are charged with improving bidding processes. Among the other job duties of these professionals: price negotiations; purchase order creation; order tracking and management; and price dispute resolutions.
The ultimate responsibility for most procurement specialists is to find quality goods or services at an acceptable price that meet an organization’s needs. The degree to which this can be done effectively and at an acceptable cost plays a role in the organization’s spending efficiencies and overall financial performance.
While a procurement specialist’s functions are generally similar across industry sectors, the work environments may vary dramatically. Some specialists will work in an office with a computer as their main tool for analysis and ordering. Others, particularly in the construction and manufacturing sectors, may be required to travel and work outdoors.
As the work environment and required credentials may differ from sector to sector, candidates could find it helpful to acquire hands-on experience in entry-level purchasing positions in particular sectors of interest.
A national survey in 2013 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the annual average salary for this career field was $109,640, with the top 10% of earners receiving salaries in excess of $165,800.
Prospective students are encouraged to conduct individual research as potential compensation is determined by factors such as industry type, market conditions, and a candidate’s experience, skills and education.
The level of education required for procurement specialists varies by industry size and type. While an associate’s degree may be sufficient for smaller organizations with fewer needs, a bachelor’s degree is a common requirement, including disciplines such as economics, logistics, supply chain management or business administration. A master’s degree can boost career advancement and increase opportunities for a procurement-related position with larger organizations.
Procurement specialists may also benefit from acquiring additional skills in purchasing and contract negotiation. Becoming adept with new inventory and accounting software can also be helpful.
If you have strong math, computer and communication skills and are interested in analyzing different types of purchasing situations, you may be a good candidate for a career as a procurement specialist.