- Types of buyer
- What does a buyer do?
- Buyer career path
- Buyer salaries
- Qualifications & training
- Buyer skills
- Pros and cons of being a buyer
- Work-life balance of a buyer
- Typical employers hiring buyers
- Related jobs to buyer
- More information
Are you interested in a career as a buyer? Explore the current consumer, FMCG and retail jobs.
Types of buyer
Buyers, also known as purchasing agents, are responsible for the purchases that a company makes. This may be for the equipment that staff use, the materials that are needed to produce a product or anything else that a company may need to buy to continue running well. Since making sensible purchases is so integral to the success of a company, buyers are necessary in many different industries. There are many more types of buyer, but here are three examples of buying jobs:
- Media buyer. In this role, you identify available advertising space across media platforms like newspapers, online news, social media, TV and radio. Once you’ve identified a good advertising spot, you purchase it. You either use it for the company you’re working for or resell it to another company for a profit.
- Land buyer. In this role, you identify pieces of land or properties that could be commercially useful. You then either pass them on to the property development team in the company you work for or sell them to another company.
- Retail buyer. In this role, you purchase anything that a shop will sell. This could be food, clothing, tools, furniture or anything else that the company you work for sells.
What does a buyer do?
Regardless of the type of buyer that you are, there are tasks which are relevant to most if not all types of buyer.
- Assess whether the company needs to purchase the items. For example, a colleague may contact you and request a new piece of equipment. It’s your job to determine whether a new piece of equipment is actually necessary based on increased performance or safety measures or whether you can either repair the equipment or deny the request
- Research the quality of items that you need to buy and compare this to the price
- Meet with your team to discuss the pros and cons of an item, whether it suits the company’s needs and whether another item would be better
Buyer career path
The buyer role often has a great career path available to you. If in the course of your career you decide you like the planning element but not the buying, you could switch to a project management role. Similarly, if you like the financial side but not the buying, you could become a financial advisor. Here is the career path that you might expect when working as a buyer either for a consulting firm or as a permanent member of staff for a company:
Entry-level positions include assistant or junior buyer roles. In these jobs, you help more senior buyers with their responsibilities completing administration tasks like setting up meetings both internally and externally, submitting purchasing orders and monitoring the inventory of stock within the company.
Once you’ve gained experience and proven that you’re good at the job, you progress to a mid-level buyer role. Here, you identify a need for a material or item and go about making the purchase. You may still report to a more senior buyer, but you’re trusted to make important decisions on behalf of the company.
With many years of experience, you progress to senior buyer. You have more responsibility with internal buying, meaning you look at the requirements of colleagues in other departments and determine whether they actually need the requested item or if there is another solution. You oversee the purchases made by junior members of the team and give advice or training if they need help.
As a senior employee, you have a high level of responsibility and can make large scale purchases. However, even in this senior role, there is a degree of discussion about the purchases but you have a big input into the overall decision.
The salary that you earn depends on the type of industry that you work in. Here are the general salaries that you may expect when working as a buyer:
- Assistant or junior buyers earn an average of £25,000 per year, ranging from £20,000 to £30,000 per year depending on the industry and location
- Mid-level buyers earn an average of £35,000 per year
- Senior buyers earn an average of £45,000 per year, which can be up to £60,000 per year depending on the company and industry
- To demonstrate the difference between types of buyer, retail buyers earn an average of £45,000 per year, land buyers earn an average of £35,000 per year and media buyers earn an average of £30,000 per year
Qualifications and training
Being a successful buyer means understanding the products available and getting them for a good price. Being well educated in a relevant area and having good experience helps you become a great buyer. Here are the steps that you should take to join the buyer career path:
Having an undergraduate degree is a good starting point for buyers. Undergraduate degrees in finance, business and other related fields teach you the financial and analytical side of a buyer’s job.
Another option is working towards an apprenticeship. In an apprenticeship, you learn how to succeed in a buyer role, being taught by experts in the field, and earn a wage whilst you complete it. If you’re interested in apprenticeships, explore the current apprenticeships available now.
Alongside a degree or an apprenticeship, having relevant work experience teaches you the skills you need to be a buyer and the type of working environment of purchasing departments. Relevant work experience tells a hiring manager that you have already started developing the skills you need for the role and already have a working understanding of the department and the job. You could get work experience through an internship, industrial placement or by shadowing a buyer. If you’re interested in internships, check out internships available to you now and complete this module on converting an internship into a permanent job.
Professional qualifications are courses that you take once you’re in a career path to learn new skills and demonstrate your worth. There are many relevant professional qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply which could be beneficial to your career in the future.
Alongside a secure understanding of what a business needs and a financial background, here are the skills that you need for a career as a buyer:
- Data analysis. To do your job as a buyer, you need to analyse data to understand what you need to buy, in what quantity and the level of quality that you can purchase based on the price you’re selling the completed product at. This means having great data analysis skills helps you make the right purchases for the company
- Negotiation. Your job is getting the right quantity of products for the right price. You need to negotiate well with the companies that you’re buying from so you can secure a great deal. Having excellent negotiation skills will help you get good prices and help the company you work for have larger profit margins.
- Research. Being a buyer means knowing all the products available, the good and bad points about them and range of prices. You need to research the products that you buy well so you get the best price for the quality of item available.
- Decision making. This may not seem like a skill at first but it’s actually a very important part of working as a buyer. You need to make big decisions for a company, sometimes over short deadlines. Being decisive and sticking to a decision after due research makes you a great buyer.
Pros and cons of being a buyer
Being a buyer could be an excellent career path for you. You use your organisation, negotiation and analysis skills to help a company be successful. However, there are negative parts of a buyer’s career. Here is what you should consider before joining the buyer’s career path:
- Most buying jobs have a great deal of variety. You get to research and buy different items all the time which makes work interesting
- Bigger companies offer great pension schemes
- You usually get the training that you need on the job
- You don’t need high-level qualifications for most buyer jobs
- There is the potential for travel depending on the type of industry you work in
- Finding a balance between the cost and quality of an item can be tricky
- Factoring in the needs of your colleagues can be stressful because you may make a decision that they’re not happy with, which puts pressure on your working relationship
- You might reach the maximum salary for a buyer and not be able to progress beyond it despite your skills and experience
- You may have to make big decisions in short timeframes
Work-life balance of a buyer
Buyers tend to work standard office hours of 9am to 5pm on Monday to Friday. You may work overtime around big deadlines but otherwise sticking to a good work life balance is fairly easy in this line of work. Most of a buyer’s work is office-based where you can have meetings with colleagues to discuss purchases and update them on your work. However, you may need to travel to inspect merchandise or meet with people you’re considering buying from.
Typical employers hiring buyers
There are many top companies that hire buyers at entry-level. Here are the top companies that you could work for as a buyer:
Related jobs to buyer
If you’re interested in a career as a buyer, explore the buyer careers available to you right now.
Do you want to learn more about being a buyer? Find out about the work of a media buyer here.