Is procurement a good career? (With jobs and FAQs)
Updated 12 September 2023
A career in procurement generally involves working to manage, improve or continue the organisation's current supply chain, such as ensuring that each department has enough resources to continue its work. This is a broad field with many potential positions, all of which may prompt certain questions before committing to this sector. If you're considering procurement as a career path, knowing the answers to these questions could help you assess which job best suits you. In this article, we answer 'Is procurement a good career?' and look at frequently asked questions that relate to the procurement sector and their roles within this field.
Is procurement a good career?
The answer to ‘Is procurement a good career?' depends upon the specific role you're looking for. This sector is usually in high demand as virtually all organisations rely on a supply chain of some kind, which requires frequent management and streamlining. Without procurement teams, many organisations would struggle to handle purchasing, sourcing and goods management.
Procurement involves finding creative solutions to supply problems, and the variety in these concerns alongside the sector's typical tasks also regularly provides new challenges and duties for people in these roles. If you enjoy a job with no set routine, working in procurement could be a good career choice. The challenges inherent to this role also help you develop a range of helpful skills that make you a valuable employee.
What are the main differences between procurement and purchasing?
In the context of an organisation, both purchasing and procurement refer to the processes of acquiring goods, but purchasing is simply one part of the broad procurement strategy. Purchasing involves purchase orders, receipt of goods, requisitions, invoicing, payments and quality checks, but many procurement steps fall outside of this. Procurement also directly involves a long-term supply strategy, whereas purchasing may simply be a one-time transaction that responds to an immediate short-term business need, such as replacing a specific item or just intentionally buying something once.
A key aspect of procurement is building up relationships with suppliers, including thorough investigations into which would provide the best deals. For example, a supplier could provide a 10% discount for repeat long-term customers, with these negotiations forming the first half of the procurement strategy. Purchasing outside of procurement might bypass this and instead seek out the most convenient option, though typically still with the organisation's finances in mind. Procurement often involves items necessary for the business to function, such as equipment, whereas independent purchasing could relate to unnecessary but useful items, such as those for company events.
What are the requirements for entering procurement?
The exact requirements depend upon the role and the organisation's specific needs, but a robust knowledge of procurement processes, data interpretation, inventory management and negotiation might help you reach any procurement-related job. You may benefit from getting work experience through the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, which could have an internship available. Alternatively, you might select a two-year apprenticeship in procurement, letting you learn the fundamentals while on the job.
Certain qualifications may help you approach this sector with proven skills and knowledge, such as a bachelor's degree in procurement, purchasing, supply chain management or another related subject, including a business studies degree. A master's degree in any of these subjects could also offer further benefits. National Vocational Qualifications and Higher National Diplomas directly teach procurement skills, including negotiation and supplier assessment. Some diplomas give knowledge and qualifications equivalent to a bachelor's degree, with the strength of this certificate depending upon the level that you choose to pursue.
What is the procurement process?
Procurement follows a series of clear steps, each of which might involve different procurement team members conducting various duties to ensure the company's supply chain progresses smoothly. This may differ from one organisation to the next based on their unique supply requirements, but the first step is usually assessing what these requirements are. The team determines the necessary goods to meet key business goals and begins searching for available vendors, specifically looking at the deals they offer and comparing quotes. After picking reputable vendors, the team writes purchase requisitions for the finance team detailing the goods and vendor.
After getting the financial team's approval, the team shares a purchase order with the vendors, who then send an invoice for the organisation to pay by a specific date. At this stage, the team looks over the invoice to ensure everything's accurate. After this, depending on the delivery negotiations, the goods arrive and the team inspects them to check everything works as necessary. If there are any problems with the order, the team gets contacts the vendor to fix this issue. Depending upon their experience, the organisation might solidify the transaction as a regular investment.
What are the different procurement career paths?
There are various procurement roles you could choose to pursue or apply for based on your interests and skills. These roles include:
National average salary: £24,951 per year
Primary duties: Procurement assistants often represent an entry-level position in the procurement sector, with their main duties involving assisting the senior members of a procurement team. For example, a procurement assistant could monitor the inventory in the event of any sudden changes while also processing invoices and scheduling appropriate delivery times. This role's tasks are generally administrative, so administrative and analytical skills are especially useful when applying.
National average salary: £32,554 per year
Primary duties: Procurement specialists source the products and materials the organisation requires, ask vendors across the market for quotes and compare the responses to determine which vendor is worth investing in. This role covers the entire procurement process, such as helping with negotiations and ensuring timely delivery and receiving high-quality items. They could also check industry trends to see if the organisation might benefit from changing their current approach, for example, by ordering the newer iteration of a good or item with better functionality and profitability.
National average salary: £33,924 per year
Primary duties: Procurement analysts mainly handle the sourcing aspect of procurement and compare the organisation's current expenditure and contracts with alternatives across the market. The analysts are always looking for new deals that would benefit the company, including changing the amount they buy in a single purchase for a more affordable long-term deal. A procurement analyst thoroughly investigates suppliers to determine the quality of their products and might travel directly to them for a manual inspection to ensure they have everything the organisation requires, expertly conducting negotiations in the process.
National average salary: £48,373 per year
Primary duties: A procurement manager uses the information that other procurement roles collect as the basis for executive decisions. For example, a procurement analyst's statistics might reveal that another vendor offers similar goods for a lower price which still meets the organisation's requirements. They ultimately decide what the company spends their budget on, with the research and negotiations serving to help them with this decision. Procurement managers ensure these goods are high-quality and help the firm accomplish its key aims.
National average salary: £89,228 per year
Primary duties: A director of procurement is the company executive who oversees the entire procurement process alongside the organisation's supply chain. They're usually responsible for creating an overall purchase strategy, which managers and other procurement team members follow throughout their tasks. They also work with the finance director and other executives to determine the practicality of their current approach and see if alternate strategies might work better.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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