Contracting and procurement managers, also known as purchasing or supply mangers, are responsible for purchasing products, supplies and services for businesses and organizations. They meet with suppliers and wholesalers and arrange contracts that benefit their company. Contracting and procurement managers may work for wholesale or retail sellers, government agencies or manufacturing companies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 70,300 contracting and procurement managers employed in the United States in 2008. Little growth is expected in the field, though there may still be opportunities for qualified candidates.
Contracting and procurement managers work to find the most cost-effective deals on goods and services for their company. They analyze sales figures and inventory levels for current stock to determine what products should be purchased. Contracting and procurement managers then seek both domestic and international suppliers to find the best deals. They pay attention to any developments that may affect the supply or demand of certain goods, and maintain solid technical knowledge of the product or services that they may need to purchase. Contracting and procurement managers also work with suppliers to negotiate contracts and oversee their execution.
Contracting and procurement managers usually require at least a bachelor’s degree, and many major in a business related subject. However, most employers prefer candidates who have completed a master’s degree in business, economics or an applied science. In addition to formal education, contracting and purchasing managers must learn all facets of their company’s business, and many employers offer training programs that last anywhere from one to five years. Computer skills are often an important part of the job as well, so managers should have knowledge of computer software programs and Internet-related applications.
Contracting and procurement managers usually work in offices. They are often required to work long days and put in more than 40 hours per week because of sales conferences and production schedules. Contracting and procurement managers who work in the retail field may also work nights and weekends when major sales periods are approaching. Travel may sometimes be required as well.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wages for contracting and procurement managers were $89,160 as of May 2008. The highest 10 percent was paid more than $142,550, while the lowest 10 percent were paid less than $51,490. The middle 50 percent was paid between $67,370 and $115,830. Contracting and procurement managers usually receive standard benefit packages, which include paid vacation and sick leave, health and life insurance and pension or 401K plans.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment for contracting and procurement managers will remain steady between 2008 and 2018. The use of computers and the Internet has helped improved contracting and procurement managers’ productivity, which has curtailed the need for new workers. In addition, companies are able to bid on contracts via the Internet, so less negotiating with suppliers is necessary. However, there will still be opportunities as experienced managers leave the occupation or retire. Candidates with an advanced degree and significant procurement and contracting experience should enjoy the best prospects.