How do I Become a Purchasing Supervisor?

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  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2018
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A purchasing supervisor is a person who oversees staff in the process of buying materials and supplies for a company. The first step to become a purchasing supervisor is to gain experience as a buyer or purchasing agent. Experience in these positions will provide you background in purchasing procedures and practices, knowledge of supply sources and market factors, and let you prove your ability to establish and maintain good communications with vendors. Any management or supervisory experience, even if it is in an interim capacity, is also helpful to become a purchasing supervisor.

Knowledge of word processing, software applications, and data entry, coupled with the ability to create and interpret spreadsheets, are valuable assets in pursuing a purchasing supervisor position. In addition to a general knowledge of purchasing, familiarity with the specific industry or niche of the position is highly desirable. Related education or training, formal or otherwise, is also a plus to become a purchasing supervisor.

Before pursuing a position as a purchasing supervisor, you should review the requested qualifications to determine your eligibility for the position. It is extremely important to be comfortable and confident in supervising and directing buyers and purchasers to procure quality equipment, parts, raw materials, services, and supplies. Purchases need to be cost effective, and often require that they be obtained by delivery deadlines. Effective communications with other departments is essential to perform well as a purchasing supervisor.


Aside from directing the activities of the secondary staff, the purchasing supervisor is usually responsible for authorizing the final purchases. This involves researching current market trends, thoroughly understanding client needs, and having confidence in the integrity of the vendor in terms of product quality and ability to meet delivery schedules. To become a purchasing supervisor also requires reviewing purchase requisitions for correctness and approving and assigning requisitions to appropriate staff members for efficient disposition.

After a purchase is authorized and in the works, the purchasing supervisor is required to monitor the progress of the transaction. If any problems arise regarding fluctuations in delivery time or quantities ordered, or the quality or grade of the product is questioned, the purchasing supervisor must mediate between the purchaser and the vendor to resolve the issues to both parties' satisfaction. Finesse and diplomacy are essential to being a successful purchasing supervisor.

In addition to being adept at supervising buyers and effectively communicating with vendors and clients, the purchasing supervisor should demonstrate proficiency in other areas related to purchasing. Accurate accounting and bookkeeping skills are required, as is aptitude in evaluating staff performance and providing constructive support to employees who need to improve. Smooth departmental liaisons are essential to guarantee everyone is striving towards common company goals and aware of shared challenges and proposed solutions.


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