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A procurement engineer is, basically, a buyer, although he’s often a buyer of quite technical goods. He may be buying parts for his company to resell, or he may be buying parts for his company to assemble into other products for sale. A person who wants to become a procurement engineer usually has at least a bachelor’s degree and sometimes a master’s degree, though the particular field of study may vary with the person’s preferred career path. For example, if the career goal is to work in a store or a distribution center, the degree should likely be in a business-related field such as business management, business administration, or accounting. If the goal is to work for a manufacturer, the degree may need to be in engineering or an applied science.
In a nutshell, the basic work of a procurement engineer is to acquire all equipment and services needed by his employer for further processing, manufacturing, or reselling. Another name for a procurement engineer is purchasing agent; the retail business often uses the term “buyer.” Those who plan and oversee all of this acquisition are often called purchasing managers.
Those wanting to become a procurement engineer or purchasing agent will need to develop certain skills. It’s a technological world, and computer literacy is a must for anyone with the desire to become a procurement engineer. At the very least, the basics of word processing, spreadsheets, and Internet use are required of the job.
Most procurement engineering jobs require a certain amount of experience. This means a person is unlikely to get a job with the procurement engineer title right out of college. Most people, instead, start in a lower-level job and learn as they go, picking up the experience needed to become a procurement engineer down the road.
A new hire may enter an employee training program. Such programs allow a person to become acquainted with all aspects of the company. This training will likely be informal and can last from one to five years.
In a retail or wholesale business, a person may begin as a salesperson before moving into a supervisory role. From there, the next step may be to keep track of inventory, including matching invoices to merchandise received. Opportunities to purchase merchandise may follow.
In a manufacturing business, a would-be procurement engineer is more likely to work directly with a purchasing agent from the beginning. He may learn about goods the company uses or sells, suppliers, prices and markets. At some point, he will likely be given opportunities to work with production planning and inventory management.
Other skills that should be developed along the way to a procurement engineering job include communication with active listening, negotiation, financial management, decision making, and coordination. Logic, planning and problem solving also will be of benefit. It also will help to have a healthy curiosity and a desire to continually educate yourself about anything pertaining to your job, no matter how small.