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Purchasing Director

Education and Training: Education varies, large organizations prefer Bachelor’s degree in business related field
Average Salary: $100,000 per year
Job Outlook: Good

Purchasing directors are responsible for buying inventory, products, and services for the organizations they work for. Purchasing managers work in a variety of industries including retail, wholesale, and farming. Their main goal is to provide the organization with the highest quality goods, services, and inventory at the lowest price.

To accomplish that end they spend much of their time partnering with vendors and suppliers, both foreign and domestic. It is also important for purchasing directors to keep abreast of economic forecasts, sales records, consumer behavior, and inventory levels. Most directors also manage and oversee purchasing departments that include subordinate staff such as buyers, purchasers, inventory specialists, and administrative staff. Most directors have a deep knowledge of the industry, products and services that they work with.

Education and Training Requirements

Since purchasing directors can be found across all sectors of the economy, the education and training varies greatly. Most purchasing directors start out as entry level purchasing clerks, trainees and assistant buyers and work their way up to director level after a period of years. Most large organizations require buyers at all levels to have a bachelor’s degree in a business related field. A manufacturing purchasing director typically has a bachelor’s or master’s degree in engineering.

Industry training is very common. Software and supply chain structures can vary greatly between industries. Purchasing software at a hospital may be radically different from software at an auto manufacturing plant, therefore, requiring intense training lasting at least one year.

Getting the Job

Becoming a purchasing director often takes years of working one’s way up the organizational chart since it is far from an entry level job. Most purchasing director positions are filled by buyers who have worked in the industry and have the requisite experience to become a purchasing director. It generally requires a minimum of 5-10 years of purchasing experience to reach the director level.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The employment outlook for purchasing directors is expected to be about the average for all occupations. Purchasing director positions are not as vulnerable to economic dips as lower level buyers and purchasers who may be let go due to budget cutting. Technology has allowed purchasing directors to be much more productive than in years past because of reduced paperwork and access to quick information via the internet.

Being a purchasing director is often the pinnacle career stop for many individuals. People who advance beyond purchasing director typically pursue top level executive positions because of their deep knowledge of the organization and industry functions. Many purchasing directors spend the rest of their career at the director position and do not advance beyond it.

Working Conditions and Environment

Working conditions vary depending on the type of organization. Many purchasing directors work in an office environment while others who direct purchasing activities for farms and manufacturing facilities spend their days in an office and the field. The position has a lot of responsibility and can be considered stressful at times especially if the organization is subject to cyclical movements due to consumer demand, economic conditions, etc. Most purchasing directors work typical office hours but it is quite common for them to spend additional hours at night and on weekends completing paperwork and speaking with vendors.

Salary and Benefits

The median annual salary for a purchasing director is $100,000. Wages vary by industry but as a whole the occupation pays well. Purchasing director’s salaries tend to go up in relation to the size of the organization they work for. Purchasing directors who are employed by large federal agencies and private sector businesses tend to make the highest wages ranging from $125,000-$150,000 per year. Purchasing directors generally have sound benefit and retirement packages including a 401(k) and health insurance. Paid vacation and sick days are common.

Where to Go for More Information

American Purchasing Society
P.O. Box 256
Aurora, IL 60506
(630) 859-0250

Institute for Supply Management
PO Box 22160
Tempe, AZ 85285

National Institute of Government Purchasing
151 Spring St.
Herndon, VA 20170-5223

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesBusiness