To become a purchasing administrator, an individual needs a combination of formal education, industry training, and entry-level field experience. Many wholesale and manufacturing firms that employ purchasing managers and assistants prefer them to have an undergraduate degree in business or economics. An understanding of the retail environment and the way goods move through the distribution pipeline is also essential. Most firms provide a formal training program or pair assistant buyers with more experienced personnel as they learn the foundations of the company's business methods.
Aspiring purchasing administrators should keep in mind that an advanced degree may be necessary to move into an executive management role. For this reason, obtaining an undergraduate degree in business administration, economics, or an applied science is helpful. Those who wish to become a purchasing administrator should also look for opportunities to learn the retail business while in school. Obtaining a part-time position in merchandising or retail sales, or a summer internship in procurement, can help an individual become familiar with the industry's practices.
Those who are nearing completion of a degree program might want to start researching potential manufacturing, wholesale, and retail firms that employ new college graduates for assistant buyer positions. Some of these firms recruit those who wish to become a purchasing administrator for entry-level training programs. These entry-level positions allow new graduates to get acclimated to the firm's environment and the responsibilities of a purchasing manager over the course of a year or more.
The majority of those who wish to become a purchasing administrator start out in support positions. They may begin as assistant buyers or junior assistants. Prior to taking on an executive management role, an individual needs to gain purchasing experience and learn how a particular firm operates. For example, purchasing for a manufacturing firm can be vastly different than a high-end department store.
Purchasing assistants learn from more experienced counterparts about how to locate and secure the right mix of products, compile and interpret market data, and respond to fluctuating inventory levels. They may also gain additional exposure and insight into the supply chain process, make industry connections with suppliers, and gain experience with managing sales personnel. Once an individual gains experience and exposure to the duties of a buyer, a company may recommend that additional responsibility be given.
Obtaining a master's degree in business, marketing or retail management can prove to be beneficial for those who wish to become a purchasing administrator. Many senior buyers eventually obtain an advanced degree since it may be required for promotion. Senior buyers are often in charge of overseeing junior buyers, merchandise managers and several sales representatives. In some countries, certification in merchandise planning and buying may also be necessary.