How to Become a Procurement Professional?

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Procurement positions are available in almost all medium to large scale organizations. Procurement relates to purchasing any type of product, commodity, service, raw material, etc. for the organization one is working for. This broad dimension of procurement activities provides scope for number of procurement management jobs in a variety of organization. A manufacturing firm may be required to purchase raw material, machinery or intermediate products for its manufacturing process, an IT based company may be required to purchase software for its operations, or even a company may be required to purchase non-critical items such as stationery, furniture etc for day-to-day activities. This purchasing is mostly done at an organizational level and is always a business-to-business transaction.

The types of jobs available in the procurement departments of various companies include,
  • Procurement clerks
  • Procurement analysts
  • Procurement managers
The various jobs relate to the different levels of hierarchy in the procurement chain.

The job of a procurement professional is to look after the procurement requirements of a company. The role may include ensuring compliance to company policies, identifying contractors/vendors, making purchases, and supervising the procurement process. The procurement manager is required to coordinate with all the departments of the organization to find out their procurement requirements and meet their demands. The procurement requirements can vary drastically across companies. It may relate to the core raw materials for a manufacturing company, support procurement such as machinery and logistics, and subsidiary items such as stationary etc. In most cases, the procurement task is critical as the procurement professional is to identify vendors and contractors who will supply the required goods to the company. The procurement managers have to maintain the business relationship with the existing vendors and regularly keep a check on the quality of products and services that the vendors are delivering. His decisions will directly affect the quality and cost of the purchased goods. There have to be proper negotiations, contracts formulated and accepted, all purchases have to be checked and tracked, records need to be updated, and payments that need to be made.

Formal education, mostly a four-year degree, is required to be eligible as procurement professional. Preferred fields of education include business management, business administration, analytics and accounting. In some companies, procurement managers may be required to hold a Masters Degree as well.

Skills required for procurement professionals are mostly common at most levels. A procurement in-charge must have excellent communication skills as he will have to deal with a lot of people for the transactions. Also, he must have good writing skills to be an effective communicator. With the growing and almost ubiquitous use of computers in the industry, it has almost become necessary to have good computer skills to be a competitive candidate for a procurement professional job. In some companies, especially the multinationals who deal with contractors from various nationalities, multi-lingual skills may be added advantage to your profile.

Many professional training institutes provide trainings for basic management and other aspects such as communication and computers for procurement professionals. To get some preliminary hand-on training and experience in the field of procurement, you can start at a smaller place like a retail source or a manufacturing plant. Other places to get good work experience can be government departments like health care etc. or professional service offices. Once you get some preliminary experience, your profile will be strengthened and you can seek job in more high profile places. Numerous courses are also available for getting training on skills like book keeping, accounting, computers, business writing, and communication.

A little bit of prior work experience may prove to be handy for procurement professionals when they join larger corporate houses with extended job responsibilities. Often leading organizations may mention a particular number of work experience years as a vocational criterion. A minimum two years of work experience in a government department or manufacturing plant may be necessary.

Procurement departments are a must for almost all types of companies. So there is no limitation to the type of company where one can look for a procurement job. Also, this field provides tremendous growth opportunities. As the basic skill set is related to management, the jobs can lead to higher ranks in the organization. If you struck some very economical deals for the company with the vendors, you definitely have great potential of rising up in the company as your capability will be recognized and rewarded.

Studies have shown that the average salaries of procurement managers have been around $150,000 per year. The actual salaries vary according to the size of the company, size of the procurement department and type of role.

Procurement provides a very impressive and wide range of employment opportunities that utilize management and organizational skills of professionals. With the growth of multinational companies, international exposure and globe trotting has also become a possibility for procurement professionals. If you have the matching skills and credentials, you can definitely look forward to pursuing this career path.
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