Job Description

Buyer Job Description

If you’re looking for a buyer job, view open positions and apply today.

What is a buyer?

Buyers, also known as purchasing agents, are responsible for purchasing goods for a company to use or sell in their own business. This position requires extensive research and the ability to negotiate contracts with suppliers, manage an inventory, evaluate quality goods, and stick within a budget.

At the most basic level, being a buyer for a company is exactly what it sounds like—you buy things. However, a lot more goes into the buyer job description. Since these individuals work in a range of sectors, from fashion and technology to food and industry, buyers must understand the unique needs of their particular employer.

How is this role monitored?

Buyers and purchasing agents have highly-monitored roles. In small startups, purchasing agents may report to a purchasing director. In larger organizations, buyers may report to a purchasing manager, who is overseen by the chief procurement officer (CPO).

A successful buyer career is measured in several simple ways. At the end of the day, buyers must source quality items at competitive prices that are useful to their company’s bottom line. This may require them to predict what consumers will want, like a fashion buyer forecasting next season’s trends. Buyers must also find trustworthy wholesalers and manufacturers and ensure their deliveries are on time, complete, free of damage, and within budget.

Buyer salary

How much do buyers make? This is a demanding career that sometimes requires more than 40 hours of work per week depending on the project and industry. For this reason, the average buyer salary can be very competitive for a relatively early-stage career role. The median annual wage for both buyers and purchasing agents is $64,380.

After a few years, a purchasing agent may take on a managerial position, where they stand to make a median salary of $121,110 per year.

What does a buyer do?

Buyer responsibilities extend far beyond simply purchasing items for companies to use or sell. In many cases, they’re in charge of a business's product, meaning their success directly leads to a company’s revenue. In a typical day, a buyer will:

  • Search for and negotiate contracts with suppliers and manufacturers
  • Order products and authorize payments
  • Manage inventory, including current stock and new deliveries
  • Ensure the accuracy of purchase orders
  • Craft purchase order and inventory reports for management
  • Solve supply chain problems

Required skills

  • Analytical and math skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Ability to perform under stress
  • Purchasing and inventory management skills
  • Knowledge of a specific sector’s needs

Job qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Associate or bachelor’s degree
  • 0-2 years of related experience
  • Trade-specific certification like CPP, CPPB, or CPPO (optional)

Common interview questions for buyers

Even though the buyer position is lower in the chain of command, these individuals have a wealth of responsibilities that can greatly impact their employer. It’s important to show up to your interview with confidence and the proof to back it up. Be prepared to answer these common buyer interview questions:

  1. Why do you want to work as a buyer?
  2. What is your past experience as a buyer and how did you manage all of your tasks?
  3. Can you explain what you learned from your biggest success as a purchasing agent and your biggest failure?
  4. What is one supply-chain issue you ran into during your time as a buyer, and how did you handle it?
  5. What is one situation you encountered that required you to go beyond your typical buyer responsibilities?
  6. Can you walk us through your typical process of finding wholesalers and manufacturers and negotiating a contract?
  7. What differences do you see between retail buying and internal procurement?

How to become a buyer

The buyer career path has a number of milestones. Those interested in becoming a buyer often pursue a bachelor’s degree in business or accounting. Others opt for industry-specific degrees like fashion merchandising or industrial distribution.

After that, you should pursue entry-level experience, such as an internship or entry-level buyer role. Sometimes, you’ll be able to get on-the-job training. You may also want to get a certification from a trade organization like:

  • American Purchasing Society (APS)
  • Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM)
  • Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC)

Similar Positions

  • Purchasing specialist
  • Procurement manager
  • Buyer agent
  • Procurement clerk
  • Logistician

Career Advancement

  • Purchasing manager
  • Purchasing director
  • Assistant to the CPO
  • Chief procurement officer (CPO)

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