How to become a purchasing manager

Because purchasers are usually required in manufacturing operations where they have to make decisions on procuring raw materials and production services, most purchasing directors are required to have a background in supply chain management. In addition to sourcing the right vendors to supply the materials and services, purchasing directors are also required to administer and manage the contracts to ensure the terms are met and delivered.
Because supply chain management is a technical area of management, students who wish to pursue a career in procurement are required to complete an undergraduate degree at a university. The four year programs are designed to provide students with knowledge of the entire supply chain and how procurement plays a huge role in maintaining effective productions and operations within a company.
In addition to foundational business and economic courses, students in a supply chain management program are expected to take courses in the following areas1:
• Procurement and Supply Chain Management: These courses cover the foundational principles of supply chain management from source to destination. Students will learn how the role of procurement impacts decision making and the effectiveness of the supply chain. They will also learn about the principles of vendor management.
• Manufacturing Management and Control: Students will learn about the drivers of a successful supply chain operation. They will also learn the framework involved in effective planning and control and how it impacts the company’s production, operations and the bottom line.
• Logistics: From raw materials arriving at the manufacturing location to the finished product leaving for the destination, logistics is an important component of supply chain management. Students will learn about the best practices for logistics management based on industry case studies.
• Supply Chain Strategy: Students will learn about the various elements involved in developing a company’s supply chain strategy from forecasting to aggregate planning to material requirement planning, inventory management to channel management to transportation, and sourcing. They will also learn how insight derived from modeling tools can assist in developing the supply chain strategy.
• Transportation Management: Students will learn how government and industry regulations on transportation can impact a production’s logistics and the overall supply chain management strategy.
In addition to an undergraduate education, a career in purchasing and supply chain management requires life-long studies in order to be effective. Supply chain management and manufacturing is an area that is heavily driven by economics, technology and regulations, as a result, while the foundational principles remain the same, content and approach are constantly changing. Many supply chain professionals belong to the local chapter of the industry association or a supply chain management association where they have the opportunity to learn about industry updates and network with peers who may experience similar issues with their own company.
For more information on the educational requirements in purchasing, please contact your high school counsellor or the business department of your local university or the local chapter of your supply chain management association.
1. Supply Chain Management. Eli Broad College of Business. Michigan State University.

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