Buyers and Purchasing Agents
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Employers prefer to hire applicants who know their company and its products. They also look for people who know how wholesale and retail markets work. Some retail firms promote qualified employees to assistant buyer positions. Other retail stores recruit and train college graduates as assistant buyers. Most employers use both hiring methods.
Employers' requirements for hiring vary with the size of the company. Large stores and wholesale and retail trade companies prefer to hire people who have completed their bachelor's degree. Many prefer applicants who have pursued a business degree.
Manufacturing firms are less likely to hire someone who does not have a bachelor's or master's degree. These employers prefer workers who have a degree in business or economics. Manufacturing firms may hire people who have technical training related to their company's products.
Employers prefer to hire people who know how to use computers, especially word processing and spreadsheet software. Employers also look for workers who have good math skills.
Employers look for people who understand customers. They look for someone who can make quick and good decisions about products. They also look for someone who can be resourceful. For example, if a buyer is unable to find an exact item, they must find one that is similar. Employers look for workers who are aware of trends and know what types of products will sell. Employers also look for workers with leadership and negotiating skills.
Experienced buyers may advance by moving to larger departments where they manage more products. Others may go into sales for manufacturers or wholesalers.
An experienced purchasing agent or buyer may advance to an assistant purchasing manager position. In this position, they would supervise purchasing staff. With this experience, they may move up to purchasing manager, supply manager, or director of materials management. At these upper levels, their duties may overlap with other management functions. These functions may include planning, production, and marketing.
All buyers and purchasing agents need continuing education to advance in their field. Many professional associations offer courses. Some purchasers take college classes such as purchasing. Professional certification is becoming increasingly important for advancement.
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