How to Become a Procurement Officer in 5 Steps (With Skills)
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A procurement officer helps a business source the best supplies and materials for its basic operations. These professionals have various skills and training to help them understand a company's needs. Understanding what a procurement officer does and the skills employers require can help you determine if this career path is a good option for you. In this article, we explain how to become a procurement officer, describe what skills and qualifications you need for the position and explore a procurement officer's basic duties.
How to become a procurement officer
If you want to learn how to become a procurement officer, consider these steps:
1. Consider what industry you want to work in
The industry you decide to work in can determine the type of education and training you need to become a procurement officer. Different industries use different supplies and materials, some of which might be rare, difficult to acquire or even hazardous and require specialised training to manage. It's important to first determine what industry you want to work in before starting your career path, so you know exactly what credentials you need. Some industries might require more experience, so research the requirements for your industry before you start taking classes or earning experience.
2. Earn a bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is a representation of both your commitment to training in your field and your competency in the core concepts of your work. Earning a bachelor's degree isn't typically a hard requirement to become a procurement officer, but it might give you a competitive advantage when you're submitting applications. Employers might see a candidate with a degree as more qualified or knowledgeable and earning a degree can significantly improve your understanding of the way businesses operate and help you learn important skills. Consider pursuing a bachelor's degree in supply chain management, business management or a similar field.
3. Gain experience in supply chain jobs or business management positions
Employers often require procurement officers to have some industry experience, since they're acquiring important materials for the company. They typically want procurement officers to be well-versed in supply chain or business management, so they can understand the logistics of locating, acquiring and using materials and supplies. You can gain experience either in supply chain management or work or business management by applying for entry-level positions after you finish your degree. You may want to work in the industry for at least two to five years prior to applying for a procurement position to solidify your skill set and knowledge.
4. Create a strong resume reflecting your skills
A strong resume is an important part of the application process because it helps summarise your skills, experience and qualifications for a position. Once you've earned some experience and a degree, you can create a resume that reflects these factors to submit with your applications. Focus on key skills you find in each job description, like supply chain management, software literacy or business management. Create a resume using a professional template to ensure your document is both organised and professional and also easy to read.
5. Apply for procurement positions
With a complete resume, industry experience and a degree, you're ready to apply for open procurement positions. Look for positions that meet your career goals and provide opportunities to learn and advance. During your interview, describe your core skill set and experience to highlight the specific, unique value you can bring to the position.
Tasks and duties for procurement officers
Procurement officers typically have the following general duties in every industry:
planning for the purchase of equipment, supplies, materials or anything else the business needs to function
working closely with the procurement department to ensure budget adherence
monitoring procurement policies and ensuring the department remains in compliance
managing inventory records, ensuring accuracy and completion and fixing any inventory errors
maintaining relationships with the company's suppliers and negotiating terms of service, contracts or pricing
researching suppliers that might match the company's needs and contacting representatives of those suppliers
preparing budgets for procurement, cost reports and other financial documentation
maintaining and updating information on the company's core suppliers
acquiring materials and supplies for company operations and coordinating deliveries
reviewing and comparing different suppliers, materials and services to determine the best fit for the company
What qualifications do procurement officers need?
Procurement officer qualifications can differ, based on different industry standards and specialised training needs, but these are the general qualifications for the position:
completion of the HKDSE educational credential
an undergraduate degree; though not required by every employer, it may be helpful to acquire a degree to improve your competitiveness)
two to five years of experience in business or supply chain management
computer literacy, including basic software proficiency and the ability to learn new software
customer service and strong interpersonal skills
Skills for procurement officers
Procurement officers typically use these general skills in their daily work routines:
Interpersonal and customer service skills
Procurement officers typically spend a large part of the workday interacting with other people, including customers, the procurement team and the business's management team or executives. This requires strong interpersonal skills like communication and active listening and a strong skill set in customer service. Procurement officers must understand how to talk to people, communicate complex information and needs, and understand the needs of suppliers, customers or other people connected to the business.
Procurement officers often negotiate contracts, prices and terms for supplier services and materials. This can require strong negotiation skills, as procurement officers must find the best supplies for the business's needs at a price that works for the company's financial goals. They might negotiate the terms of a contract to be more favourable or send a supplier an amended contract to account for an increase in shipping costs. Procurement officers are typically good communicators, respectful but firm and able to convince suppliers of favourable changes to contracts or prices.
Computer and software literacy
Many companies use computer software to track supplies and inventory in their supply chain, requiring at least basic computer and software literacy for procurement officers. Officers might use spreadsheets, word processors, proprietary company software for inventory management or ordering systems for individual suppliers. They understand how to operate computers, troubleshoot basic issues and navigate computer software. They might also help provide feedback on company software to help improve it or make it more user-friendly to help them accomplish their daily tasks more efficiently.
Organisational skills are crucial for procurement officers because they help coordinate a business's supply and material needs. This can mean handling several orders, contracts or negotiations simultaneously. They typically understand how to organise their time and workspace for maximum efficiency and productivity and how to organise supplier orders in company software or paper documents. Officers sometimes help coordinate efforts between departments or smaller teams, using their organisational skills to assign duties to team members with the right skill set to complete those duties efficiently.
Procurement officers also need strong research skills, as they often research different suppliers and materials or supplies to find what works best for the company's needs. This means researching the integrity and viability of materials for the company's production processes, researching and comparing prices, market movements and availability and researching the integrity of specific suppliers. They understand how to differentiate facts from opinion and how to research a company from a neutral perspective. They're also typically skilled in differentiating good sources from poor sources to get the best information available.
Supply chain management proficiency
Procurement officers also have a deep understanding of how businesses and supply chains operate. They understand how supplies and materials move from the manufacturer to a supplier and to the business. They understand how the supply chain can affect a business's operations and profitability and how to plan for supply chain issues. Procurement officers also have a strong understanding of business management, applying this knowledge to maintaining an inventory and supply system that keeps the company operational.