Five steps to becoming a procurement officer
Learn what a procurement officer does, which critical skills and experience you need, how much the job pays, and the five important steps to becoming one.
Procurement officers have an important role in modern businesses.
Their primary job is to buy goods and services for their company, but the role is much more than that.
Procurement officers must maintain compliance with purchasing guidelines, manage risks, and reduce costs to maximize profitability. At the same time, they need to work quickly and efficiently, as the products and services they procure are often needed urgently.
If you’re considering a career in procurement, you need a keen eye for detail and the ability to think strategically when analyzing purchase opportunities.
Learn what a procurement officer does, which critical skills and experience they need, how much the job pays, and the five important steps to becoming one.
What is a procurement officer, and what do they do?
A procurement officer is an employee who sources and purchases goods and services on behalf of their organization.
A few common examples of the things procurement officers purchase include:
- Critical components for product manufacturing
- Software platforms like CRMs and social media automation tools
- Office equipment, furniture, and supplies
But it’s not just about finding suitable products or services to buy. To succeed, procurement officers must engage in market research, risk analysis, and mitigation, and cost reduction practices.
As procurement team members, they typically report to the Head of Procurement or Chief Procurement Officer (CPO). They may collaborate with other procurement professionals and stakeholders in other departments.
For example, as a procurement officer, you may need to collaborate with the leaders of the sales and marketing departments when sourcing a new CRM software platform.
Procurement officer role responsibilities
Typical job responsibilities that fall under the jurisdiction of the procurement officer role include:
- Establishing budgets and costs parameters for purchases
- Conducting market research and vendor vetting
- Collaborating with team members in other departments
- Performing make-or-buy analyses
- Analyzing potential risks and suggesting mitigation policies
- Maintaining accurate records of goods and services procured
- Complying with established procurement policies and approval workflows
- Engaging in contract negotiations with potential suppliers
- Maintaining purchase records
- Finding opportunities to cut costs and maximize return on investment
- Establishing and maintaining relationships with vendors, including monitoring vendor performance
- Keeping track of active contracts and managing renewals
- Checking and approving received orders
- Creating purchase requisitions and purchase orders
- Maintaining and updating a list of preferred suppliers
- Monitoring and maintaining inventory levels
- Identifying opportunities to improve internal procurement strategies and procedures
Procurement officer job requirements and key skills
Most procurement officer job postings require a high school-level certificate or equivalent. Many ask for a bachelor’s degree or higher in a relevant field, such as accounting, finance, or business management.
As with most positions, previous experience in a similar role helps secure a job as a procurement officer but is not strictly necessary.
The skills, attributes, and traits employers typically look for in a procurement officer include:
- Understanding of procurement processes and policies
- Knowledge of and experience with procurement software tools
- General computer skills
- The ability to work well independently
- Strategic thinking and problem-solving skills
- Experience in a management, leadership, or supervisory role
- Effective interpersonal, collaboration, and communication skills
- Strong time management
- Negotiation skills
- A high level of attention to detail
- The ability to interpret, create, and administer contracts
Salary of a procurement officer
Procurement officer salaries typically range between $52,000 and $82,000 annually, depending on the industry, location, education, and years of experience.
How to become a procurement officer
1. Consider pursuing post-secondary education
While getting an entry-level job as a procurement officer without a college degree is possible, having one certainly helps.
Many positions require you to attain post-secondary education in a related field, and even those that don’t require it still prefer it. This means a college degree gives you an edge over other candidates.
Moreover, a college degree enables you to access higher-paying procurement officer positions.
Consider studying a Bachelor’s degree or above in one of these fields:
2. Get some work experience under your belt
Once you complete your education, you can enter into a job in the procurement department.
However, most hiring managers will preferentially hire those with workplace experience, particularly if the experience is industry relevant.
Candidates with real-world experience have a broader understanding of how businesses run and the needs of the departments within them, making them more effective procurement officers right out of the gate.
As procurement officers can work in almost any industry, you may want to think about the industries that interest you and seek to gain work experience there.
A good way to maximize time efficiency is to begin gaining experience during college with a part-time job.
For example, if you’d like to go into procurement for retail garment manufacturing, start with a part-time role in a retail store while still studying.
3. Look to improve your leadership skills
Leadership skills and experience are favorably looked upon when hiring procurement officers.
That’s because the position requires a high degree of autonomy of initiative (similar to leadership roles) and often involves some people management.
For instance, a procurement officer may need to pull together and lead a team of department stakeholders to understand business needs during the strategic sourcing phase.
This doesn’t mean you need to have held a job as a manager before becoming a procurement officer, but some leadership or supervisory experience will demonstrate that you hold the relevant skill set.
For instance, after working at the retail store for a year, you might ask to take on additional responsibilities like shift management or supervisory duties.
4. Become familiar with procurement software tools
In today’s procurement environment, software drives everything.
Specialized purchasing software helps procurement specialists with tasks like:
- Supply chain management
- Negotiating contracts using price benchmarking data
- Approval workflow automation
- Monitoring vendor relationship health and contract compliance
- Sourcing, vetting, and risk analysis
You don’t need to become an expert in every tool. Dozens of procurement platforms are available, and no organization uses all of them.
However, it is crucial to be familiar with how procurement tools function, the features these tools typically offer, and how to use them to speed up and improve your work as a procurement officer.
Before diving into a job in procurement, sign up for a few free trials of popular procurement tools and run through some scenarios to give yourself an idea of how this software works.
5. Put your resume together and start applying
Now you’re ready to obtain your first job as a procurement officer.
Use your resume to demonstrate the skills, experience, and education you have that make you a viable candidate for the role.
For instance, though you might not have direct experience as a procurement officer previously, your resume can cover:
- Your post-secondary study in a relevant field
- The procurement software tools you are familiar with
- Previous work experience relevant to the industry
- Relevant skills like leadership capabilities
Vendr: The software procurement officer’s best friend
One of a procurement officer’s most essential responsibilities is sourcing and purchasing new software platforms for an organization.
- Drive contract management processes and manage renewals
- Access price benchmarking data from the biggest data set of SaaS buying transactions around
- Catch overlapping spend and consolidate software licenses
- Create automated approval workflows to speed up purchase requests
- Monitor vendor performance and ensure compliance with contract terms