A purchasing engineer handles the buying of an array of products linked to the overall engineering field, including civil, mechanic, chemical and electrical. The purchasers work with suppliers to ensure products needed to complete projects are available when required and are up to quality specifications. Sometimes purchasers will act as negotiators for price. Purchase engineers must have more specific knowledge related to the engineering industry than those working in more generalized purchasing positions.
Most purchasing engineers work in offices and at least 40 hours a week, if not more. Sometimes travel is necessary domestically and globally. It wouldn't be unusual for a purchasing engineer to also spend some of his time at a work site consulting with project engineers or crew chiefs about current or future purchasing needs.
Purchasing engineers are engineers first, and nearly all of them have completed a bachelor's degree in an engineering program. Many have also completed courses in business or possibly a business minor. Some firms require candidates to have completed a master's program in engineering. A master's degree is essential for advancement.
Training and Qualifications
New purchasing engineers must learn the specifics of the purchasing component of their business. Some training periods are more formal than others, and sometimes last as long a few years. New employees sometimes work with experienced purchasers to learn about prices, suppliers and markets. They may also be assigned to the production planning department to learn about material requirements or the inventory system. Purchasing engineers must also be proficient with computer data entry.
According to the 2008 statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for a general purchasing manager is $89,160. But some of the positions requiring more specific qualifications and education, like a purchasing manager in an engineering firm, could earn more than $149,000 a year. If it is not a management position, the yearly salary is lower, but generally between $60,000 and $80,000.
Overall employment for purchasing agents and managers in all fields was expected to grow 7 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the BLS. And purchasing jobs with specific knowledge needed, such as that of an engineer, were also expected to be in high demand as companies try to become more efficient.