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Education and Training

Careers in Purchasing and Supply Management

How Do I Get There From Here?

A four-year degree in business or purchasing can increase your potential for career advancement and opportunities in the field of supply management. Supply management educators indicate that an ideal college program consists of an undergraduate degree in business with a concentration in purchasing/supply management. Engineering and technical courses as part of an undergraduate degree in business and/or a master's degree in business administration can also enhance your career opportunities and overall marketability. In the end, a sound foundation in business principles, including negotiations, ethics, business law and finance, as well as industry awareness, can build a solid foundation for a career in supply management.


Plan a study program that will provide the basics of supply management. Develop strong analytical and planning skills as well as computer and technology skills. In addition, consider the requirements of different industries, and plan to take liberal arts and science courses related to the industry in which you hope to work. For example, a strong foreign language background may be important in an industry that buys internationally, and a strong science background may be a plus in many technical industries.

After College

It's important to continue your education after college. Most supply management departments encourage their personnel to receive additional training beyond a college degree to become more effective and efficient supply managers. Your employer may provide you with different types of training programs depending on your past education, training, experience, and your position within the organization.

Training methods can vary widely. New supply managers, for example, may informally observe other supply managers at work and assist them under close supervision. Some organizations may choose to have supply managers attend formal courses. Distance education, including Internet-delivered coursework, is an option being offered by more and more educational institutions as well.

You can develop your expertise further by attending conferences, seminars and workshops conducted by colleges, universities, and professional organizations such as the Institute for Supply Management™ and its local affiliates.

Continuing Education

The Certified Professional in Supply Management® (CPSM®) is the credential that surpasses the demands of the international marketplace with multi-faceted skills in areas such as finance, supplier relationship management, organizational global strategy and risk compliance.

Common Degrees for Purchasing and Supply Management Professionals

Business (general)
Purchasing/Supply Management
Operations Management

Business (general)
Purchasing/Supply Management
Supply Chain Management
Materials Management
Liberal Arts

Graduate Degree:
MS (technical field)

Technical Undergraduate with Graduate in Business

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