Purchasing Agent Career Path
How To Become a Purchasing AgentPurchasing agents are responsible for purchasing the goods and services that are necessary for companies to conduct business. While a quality education can help you get your foot in the door, a purchasing agent needs skills you can't learn in the classroom. Successful purchasing agents excel at negotiation, communication, and complex problem-solving. These professionals interact with suppliers in person, through videoconferencing, and on the phone daily, so if you enjoy meeting and communicating with all sorts of people, this may be a good role for you. In this article, we provide five steps for becoming a purchasing agent.
Pursue a relevant degree.
Most purchasing agents hold a bachelor's degree in business, finance, or supply management. If you plan on working in a specialized industry such as farming, which relies heavily on purchasing agents, you might consider pursuing a degree in agriculture, animal science, or another related field. While employers don't typically require purchasing agents to have a master's degree, earning one can make you stand out among potential hires and qualify you for managerial positions. Learning a second language will come in handy if you want to work for a major company that deals with international suppliers.
Apply for a purchasing agent internship.
While you're pursuing your degree, consider applying for a purchasing agent internship. Interns typically assist with inventorying supplies, preparing purchase orders, and sourcing new vendors. An internship will give you practical experience and allow you to grow your professional network. It isn't uncommon for an internship to become a permanent position. Even if it doesn't, a purchasing agent internship will look good on your resume.
Earn professional certifications.
After completing your bachelor's degree, you can earn a Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential from the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM). An ASCM certification proves that you have relevant purchasing skills and know-how to implement them. It also shows a potential employer that you're willing to stay updated with purchasing processes and best practices.
Apply for purchasing agent jobs.
Once you've completed your degree, gained experience as an intern, and earned professional certification, it's time to apply for purchasing agent jobs. It's common for first-time hires with bachelor's degrees to start as junior purchasing agents or assistant buyers, so don't get discouraged if you don't land your dream job right away. You might qualify for a managerial role if you've earned a master's degree, depending on the company.
Continue to develop your knowledge and skills.
In addition to the CSCP credential, the Association for Supply Chain Management offers certifications for more experienced purchasing agents. These certifications will help you expand your knowledge, gain skills, and advance your career. A master's degree combined with multiple certifications can put you on the path to upper-level roles such as procurement officer or director of materials management.
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Purchasing Agent Career Path
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