Become a Professional Buyer
By Eric Hammer
If you fondly remember Friends and Rachel Green, then you
probably already know what a professional buyer is. Now, for
all the jokes that are made about the dainty princess (ala Rachel
at the beginning of the show) being qualified only to become
a buyer, the reality is that professional buyers do have a very
important job to do. Here's what you need to know:
Almost every major company on the planet has to have a professional
buyer on staff. If you work for a large hospital for example,
you may be a professional buyer of medical supplies. If you work
for a department store, you may be a professional buyer of clothes
or knickknacks. Even the dollar store chains have professional
buyers who negotiate the deals to buy all the stuff those stores
The point is that as a professional buyer, you need to be
prepared to make deals and take chances. If you go to the Far
East and buy 50,000 units of some kind of silly looking vase,
you'd better be prepared to defend your purchase and explain
why these silly vases are going to make the company money. In
fact, as a professional buyer, you are likely to be more responsible
than almost anyone else for making sure the company makes money.
After all, if you paid too much wholesale for a product, you
can't sell it for enough to make a profit at retail.
How Much Can You Make?
According to Payscale.com, the average salary for a professional
buyer ranges quite widely, from as little as $31,000 per year
to as much as $71,000 per year. Keep in mind however that your
salary may well be dependent on whether or not your company makes
money from the items you've purchased.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
A professional buyer, more than anything else is a professional
negotiator. When you are out at a factory trying to make a deal
for your company to buy a particular product, you need to be
able to strike the lowest possible deal you can make. Otherwise,
your company will take a loss. According to one site, professional
buyers report that they have been taken for a ride if they weren't
careful and that everyone in the business is constantly maneuvering
- after all, it's big business and when you're buying a million
units of a product, even shaving an extra nickel off the price
means saving an extra $50,000.
You will also need to know a lot about the industry you work
in since you need to be able to tell for example why a particular
fabric used on a shirt is worth spending the extra money for
as opposed to the cheaper version. Or why this kind of wood makes
for better tongue depressors than that kind of wood.
You should also be prepared to travel quite a bit since you
will have to travel to the factories to see the products that
are available for sale. This means that you'll often be away
from home for extended periods of time, making it difficult to
maintain personal relationships.
Qualifications / Requirements
There are no formal requirements to become a professional
buyer. Rather, you need to have an education in the area that
you are working in. This may mean a degree in fashion if you
work for a clothing chain or a degree in English if you are a
book buyer. In most cases however, you won't start as a professional
buyer. Instead, you'll be a member of the sales staff and work
your way up to the point of being a buyer for the company.
Start by deciding what kind of business you are interested
in becoming a professional buyer for. Then, get the right kind
of degree to work in the field and apply either to become an
assistant buyer or even a member of the sales staff if that's
what it takes to get your foot in the door.
Check out these helpful resources to learn more about becoming
a professional buyer:
Princeton Review: Buyer - A good basic introduction
to the business of becoming a professional buyer.