Chief Purchasing Officer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Chief purchasing officers, typically called chief procurement officers (CPOs), negotiate purchasing and oversee goods and services for an organization. Excellent communication and management skills are often necessary in becoming a CPO. Educational and experience requirements vary by company, though purchasing, inventory control and leadership are strong qualifications.

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Job Description of a Chief Procurement Officer

Chief procurement officers work on behalf of an organization negotiating the cost of goods and services from vendors. Responsibilities of a CPO will vary depending on the size of a corporation. Those employed by large international companies may supervise a number of employees in other countries, while those in smaller companies may simply manage inventory. CPOs may work closely with the accounting department of a company to verify vendors are paid promptly after services are obtained.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for purchasing managers in 2013 was $103,780. The BLS anticipates a job growth rate of 4% for purchasing managers between 2012 and 2022, which is lower than the average rate for all jobs during that time.

Duties of a Chief Procurement Officer

Chief procurement officers handle pricing negotiations, service contracts and authorization of new vendors. They may require the issuance of purchase orders and other tracking documentation. Some companies may regulate the responsibility of inventory control to a purchasing department for items such as office supplies or technical equipment. Purchasing officers may utilize comprehensive auditing software to manage company assets. Supervision of one or more related departments may fall under the authority of a chief procurement officer.

Requirements of a Chief Procurement Officer

Educational Requirements

Chief procurement officers are considered upper management, and many organizations prefer CPOs with a master's degree in business administration or related field of study. An academic background in economics, finance or accounting may be suitable for many organizations, though a degree in engineering or an applied science may appeal to manufacturing companies.

Some organizations provide on-the-job training which offers new CPOs the opportunity to learn about suppliers, pricing, markets and commodities in relation to the company. CPOs may begin a career in a purchasing department checking invoices, tracking inventory and selling goods. Experience, training and additional education are standard paths for advancement within a company.

Required Skills

CPOs coordinate with vendors, staff and management to ensure adequate supply is available at the lowest cost. Significant negotiation skills are generally required for purchasing staff. Some global organizations may request applicants be fluent in one or more foreign languages. Earning optional certification in purchasing through one of a number of credentialing organizations demonstrates a professional's proficiency in contract negotiation, auditing procedures, legal regulations and supply chain management.

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