Marketing, Selling and Advertising

How to become a buyer

As a buyer, you would be responsible for buying in the goods that your company sells, or the equipment and parts that your company uses to manufacture goods.

Your duties would include:

  • choosing products
  • negotiating prices with suppliers
  • making sure that goods arrive on time and suppliers are paid
  • presenting new ideas to senior managers
  • analysing sales figures and forecasting future sales
  • writing reports
  • recording and monitoring stock levels
  • researching new products and suppliers, for example by checking catalogues or attending trade fairs.

In certain industries you would use specialist skills, for example in retail you would work closely with merchandisers to analyse consumer buying patterns. As a fashion buyer, you might advise design teams about trends when new ranges are planned.

What qualifications and experience will employers look for?

You may have an advantage with a BTEC HNC/HND or degree in supply chain management, logistics or business studies, although you don’t always need a degree or HND if you have relevant experience in retail, merchandising or business.

For some buyer jobs, employers may prefer you to have specialist qualifications and technical knowledge in your particular industry, for example:

  • an engineering degree for an engineering manufacturing company
  • a degree in fashion buying or design for a fashion buying job.

Most employers will expect you to have or be working towards membership of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS). If you don’t have a CIPS-approved degree in supply chain management, you can study for CIPS professional qualifications whilst working in a buying department.

You may be able to join some large companies as a trainee buyer through a management training scheme. You will usually need a degree (in any subject) to get onto a training scheme, although some employers will recruit people with A levels or similar qualifications.

It is also possible to start as a purchasing administrator or assistant in a company’s buying department. You could then work your way up to assistant or junior buyer and beyond as you gain experience and CIPS qualifications.

See the CIPS website for details of the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that they approve, and for more information about CIPS qualifications and membership.

What further training and development can I do?

You would be trained on the job, possibly through a company’s structured graduate training scheme. You will also normally study for professional qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS).

You could work towards NVQ levels 2, 3, 4 and 5 in Supply Chain Management, or you could study for CIPS qualifications including:

  • Level 3 Certificate in Purchasing and Supply
  • Level 4 Diploma in Purchasing and Supply
  • Level 5 Advanced Diploma in Purchasing and Supply
  • Level 6 Graduate Diploma, a degree-level qualification.

The Level 3 and 4 qualifications are suitable for purchasing administrators and people new to the industry. Most buyers aim to achieve the Level 6 Graduate Diploma.

You can study for CIPS qualifications part-time at local colleges and private training providers, or by distance learning. See the CIPS website for full details of entry requirements and where to study.

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Joycellyn Akuffo

Founder and editor of www.motherswhowork.co.uk, a mother of two wonderful children, wife, entrepreneur (check out www.geekschool.co.uk) and journalist.

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