Graduate Careers Advice

Graduate Buying And Procurement Careers

James Thornhill

Buyers work within organisations – and heavily within retail – deciding which products should  be sold to the customer.

The role of a buyer is important, because if stock goes unsold the company will lose money. It is therefore the buyer’s responsibility to analyse the market that they are attempting to sell to, and choose the products that will appeal the most to that market.

You are likely to work standard office hours – around 40 hours per week, 9am – 5pm Monday – Friday), although some overtime may be required.

Buyers in the FCMG industry could be responsible for selecting products in the following areas:

  • Food and drink
  • Cosmetics
  • Homeware
  • Household items
  • Medicines
  • Toiletries
  • Plastic/paper products
  • Electronics

You are likely to start your career as an assistant buyer, moving on to earn the junior buyer then the senior buyer titles.

How much can I earn as a Buyer?

According to the National Careers Service, salaries for the following levels of buyer per year are as follows:

  • Assistant buyer – £16,000 to £24,000
  • Junior buyer – £25,000 and £32,000
  • Senior buyer – £35,000 and £40,000
  • Purchasing manager - £50,000 to £60,000+

What qualifications do I need to be a Buyer?

If you have one of the following degrees, you will be in the best position to become a buyer:

  • Buying/merchandising
  • Business/management
  • Retail
  • Finance

To solidify your skills, you might want to consider taking masters or a professional qualification in buying after you have completed your undergraduate degree – especially if your degree is quite general or is not one of the above.

If you decide not to take on further qualifications, make sure you have enough work experience to prove that you know what you’re doing.

What Skills Do I Need To Be a Buyer?

Commercial awareness is an absolute must for buyers, as is an awareness of the retail process and a good eye for numbers/analytics. You’ll need to predict changes and trends in your industry, and be extremely organised in tracking profits, losses and successes.

Other essential skills include:

  • Good eye for quality
  • Organisation
  • Good written presentation
  • Communication
  • Negotiation
  • Ability to take on feedback

What Experience Do I Need To Get A Job In Buying and Procurement?

Buying is an extremely competitive area to work in, so you should try and get as much work experience as possible to give yourself a head start. Contact organisations directly and see if you can go in for work experience, or to shadow a buyer in their head office.

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