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Buyer

Purchasing manager, procurement manager

Buyers in the construction industry procure all the materials required for building projects and ensure they are provided on time and within allocated budgets. They play a vital role, as they ensure the profitability of business contracts, by purchasing the most cost-effective and appropriate materials for each job.

Average salary*

£18000

-

£50000

How to become a buyer

While there are no formal qualifications needed to become a buyer in the construction industry, there are several routes you could take to help you pursue this career in procurement. You could complete a university or college course, an apprenticeship or apply directly to an employer for work.

You should explore these routes to becoming a buyer, to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.

University

You could become a buyer by completing a foundation degree, higher national diploma (HND) or an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, such as business studies, purchasing logistics, or supply chain management.

You'll need: 

  • 1- 2 A levels, or equivalent (foundation degree or HND)
  • 2 - 3 A levels, or equivalent (undergraduate degree).

After your studies, you could apply to become a trainee buyer through a construction company’s graduate training scheme.

> Equivalent entry requirements explained

> Find a university course

> Funding advice

College/training provider

To become a buyer, it would be beneficial to have up to 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) in maths and English, at Level 4 or above as the role requires a good standard of numeracy and literacy.

You could complete an NVQ or HND in supply chain or construction management, to gain more knowledge around purchasing and procurement, and help you progress in your career.

> Equivalent entry requirements explained

> Find a course near you

> Funding advice

Apprenticeship

You could complete a commercial procurement and supply higher apprenticeship to help you become a buyer in the construction industry.

You'll need 4 - 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you’ll be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.

> Find an apprenticeship near you

> Guide to apprenticeships

Work

If you’re considering a job as a buyer, you could apply to begin your career as an assistant or trainee within a construction company. As you become more experienced, your employer might offer training around purchasing and procurement to help you progress in the role.

If you already hold GCSEs or A levels (or equivalent) and have proven experience in buying or estimating, you may be able to apply to an employer directly for a role as a buyer.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as a buyer. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.

> Find out more about work experience

Skills

Additional skills which can be complementary to a buyer include: 

  • Knowledge and understanding of construction materials 
  • Good communication skills
  • Strong maths and budgeting abilities
  • Analytical thinking skills
  • Negotiation skills.

What does a buyer do?

Buyers ensure that construction projects remain profitable for the contractor by purchasing cost-effective materials. As a buyer it’s useful to have an understanding of construction, so that you understand how the whole job works and fits together. 

The duties of a buyer include: 

  • Providing prices for all materials included in project plans and drawings
  • Identifying potential suppliers and new products
  • Contacting a range of suppliers and sub‐contractors to obtain quotations
  • Agreeing delivery times
  • Keeping detailed records and maintaining well‐organised work schedules
  • Assessing the reliability of sub‐contractors and suppliers
  • Dealing effectively with challenges with suppliers and the flow of materials
  • Ensuring compliance with the safety, health and environment requirements of materials and services
  • Providing advice to the project estimator on the predicted cost of individual items
  • Liaising closely with the estimator at the tendering stage to ensure that an accurate project cost is provided
  • Preparing and maintaining cost reports in order to maximise efficiency within the business
  • Negotiating and agreeing the most favourable terms possible with suppliers once a contract has been secured
  • As a buyer, you will mainly work in an office, and can expect to work around 40 hours a week.

How much could you earn as a buyer?

The expected salary for a buyer varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained buyers can earn £18,000 - £25,000
  • Trained buyers with some experience can earn £25,000 - £35,000
  • Senior buyers can earn £35,000 - £50,000.*

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources and have been updated as of 2019


Jobs

Check out the latest buyer vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

As a buyer in the construction industry, you could progress into a more senior position as a purchasing manager or a procurement manager.

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

  • Current role Buyer As a buyer you'll be responsible for ensure that the necessary materials for eac...
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  • Current role Purchasing manager Purchasing (or procurement) managers buy equipment, goods and services for their...
    Read more
  • Current role Procurement Manager As a procurement director you would be responsible for a team and a number of pr...
    Read more
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