Associate buyers can constitute an important part of a company because they control how much and what merchandise is carried by the company. They are knowledgeable in areas of business and finance. Associate buyers may work closely with other members of the company, including head executives, accountants and financial managers.
Associate buyers purchase a large variety of products or services for their company and attempt to obtain the highest quality goods and services for the lowest price. They study sales records and inventory levels of current stock to evaluate what product is needed. Associate buyers, also known as purchasers, are also responsible for identifying foreign and domestic suppliers, and keeping up to date on changes affecting supply and demand. Purchasers consider a variety of factors when choosing merchandise and services, including price, quality, availability, reliability and degree of technical support.
Education, Training and Experience
Education and training requirements will vary according to the company’s size. Larger organizations prefer applicants with a bachelor’s degree with a business emphasis. Many manufacturing companies require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in engineering, business, economics or one of the applied sciences. Work experience as purchasing clerks, junior buyers or assistant buyers is preferable. Associate buyers must also have knowledge of various software packages and the Internet. Training periods may last from one to five years.
Associate buyers generally work in a typical office setting. They usually work longer hours than the standard 40-hour week. Many times, special sales, conferences or deadlines will require them to work overtime. Those in the retail trade may regularly work evening and weekend hours during holiday and back-to-school seasons. Travel is sometimes necessary, while those working for international companies may travel outside the country. Purchasers may also work closely with other members of the company to evaluate what merchandise is needed.
Associate buyers and purchasers earned a medial annual wage of $86,160 in May 2008. The middle half of the profession earned between $67,370 and $115,830 annually. Some buyers can earn more than $142,000, while others earn less than $52,000 per year. Those who purchase farm products earned $49,670 annually on average in May 2008. Associate buyers working in wholesale and retail, excluding farm products, earned an average of $48,710 per year in May 2008.
The employment market for purchasers is expected to increase 7 percent over the period from 2008 through 2018, which is as fast as the average for the rest of the job market. Demand for associate buyers should increase due to large companies increasing the size of their purchasing departments to service buying contracts from smaller companies. However, technological improvements as well as outsourcing to other countries will limit demand. Positions for associate buyers in the farm industry are projected to experience little or no change in employment growth.