What Is a Procurement Specialist?

Successful companies maintain strict operating budgets, and it’s a procurement specialist’s responsibility to adhere to budgetary guidelines while acquiring goods and services essential to production or service goals.  A wide variety of companies across several industries rely on procurement specialists. Although these professionals receive little spotlight, their contribution is integral to a company’s overall stability.

Procurement specialists act as a type of financial manager, overseeing expenditures, related record keeping, and improving efficiency. Their specific duties vary by company or agency. Some typical responsibilities include:

  • Oversee order placement, spending, and inventory
  • Evaluate efficiency and cost-effectiveness of goods or services
  • Improve bidding on government and private-sector jobs
  • Negotiate prices of purchased goods and labor costs for hired services
  • Analyze vendor contracts to suggest necessary changes and to determine the degree of vendor compliance

Procurement specialists advocate for the company’s bottom line as well as their reputation, making them a leader in quality control. They must evaluate whether purchased goods and services have met the company’s standards and expectations while handling any related issues. Their position requires understanding of the company’s product or service, how its manufactured or performed and the materials or services needed for efficient output.

Procurement specialists collaborate with various departments within a company, including upper management, finance and accounting to track inventory. They discuss needs and existing problems, and they determine projected expenses. They must also establish relationships with vendors and seek out those who offer products and services with the greatest value at the best possible prices.

A procurement specialist can work as a financial manager within several different industries and must carefully consider which type of work environments are personally most desirable. These professionals work on construction sites, in corporate or agency offices, and even in manufacturing plants.  Unlike some corporate positions, a procurement specialist must have intimate knowledge of the industry in which they’re employed. Prospective procurement specialists should carefully consider which industry best suits their skills, experience, and personal preferences.

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Salary and Wages

Earning potential largely depends upon the company, position level and the agent’s industry-specific specialty. Entry-level positions and those employed by smaller companies earn far less than those who’ve advanced to management positions. Industry also matters, as experienced professionals working in top-paying industries, such as oil and gas extraction and legal services, provide annual salaries of $140,000-160,000.

Entry-level procurement specialists, also known as buyers and purchasing agents, receive less compensation, earning a median annual wage of $62,120. They have the potential to nearly double their financial manager salary with increased education and experience. Experienced professionals, and those with a master’s degree, often obtain positions with larger, more profitable companies. They serve as procurement managers or retail merchandise managers. Financial managers at this level earn a median annual wage of $115,760.

Once securing an entry-level position within a small firm or assisting a financial manager in a larger firm, a procurement specialist will have the opportunity to fill the position of procurement manager and take on greater responsibility and increased pay. How quickly this happens depends upon the individual’s skills and abilities, as well as the availability of opportunities to advance within the company.

Experience

Employers often require at least three years of work experience, which usually entails acting as a procurement clerk for a smaller company or as an assistant or administrator within a larger corporation. Hands-on, practical experience is highly valued in this industry, therefore on-the-job training is the rule rather than the exception. Larger companies often require a bachelor’s degree and some of them provide their own training programs. Prospects with a master’s degree need only one year of work experience and receive just a few months of on-the-job training to familiarize them with company specifics.

When specialists move into the position of procurement manager, they often work at this level for about five years before having the opportunity to move into mid-level management positions, such as supply chain manager or senior procurement manager.

Education

Employers value work experience, but they’re increasingly selecting candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in business management or a related field of study. Those interested in this career path should pursue their degree while seeking internships and entry-level positions to gain the experience necessary to obtain a management-level position in their preferred industry. An Online Bachelor’s in Organizational Management through Malone University allows you to earn your degree while gaining the experience you need to pursue this career. Our program prepares you for any number of leadership positions through its hands-on and student-centered curriculum, and it’s available in a unique accelerated format so that you can quickly finish your degree.

When you’re ready to advance in this career, consider Malone’s Master’s in Organizational Leadership Online program. We’ll help you become a frontrunner in your field. With a focus on the human component of organizations, our program prepares you to effectively run departments, divisions, and organizations.