Purchasing managers shop for a living. They buy the goods and services the company or institution needs to either resell to customers or for the establishment's own use. Purchasing agents buy goods and services for use by their own company or organization; they might buy raw materials for manufacturing or office supplies, for example.
Hours: Most purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents work in comfortable offices. They frequently work more than the standard 40-hour week, because of special sales, conferences, or production deadlines. Evening and weekend work also is common before holiday and back-to-school seasons for those working in retail trade. Consequently, many retail firms discourage the use of vacation time during peak periods.
Opportunities: About 43 percent worked in the wholesale trade and manufacturing industries and another 11 percent worked in retail trade. The remainder worked mostly in service establishments, such as management of companies and enterprises, or different levels of government. A small number were self-employed.
Pay: Median annual earnings of purchasing managers were $81,570 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $60,890 and $105,780 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $46,540, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $132,040 a year.
Training: Qualified people may begin as trainees, purchasing clerks, expediters, junior buyers, or assistant buyers. They often need continuing education, certification, or a bachelor's degree to advance.
Citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition , Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos023.htm (visited July 22, 2009 ).
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