In a conversation with a procurement research firm today, we talked about my observations in the recruiting of category managers – those purchasing leaders who are responsible for the procurement of a specific category as opposed to general goods and services. Categories may include any specialized product or service from electronics to marketing/media buying to metals to travel services.
Based on some research I’ve done, the importance of industry/category-specific skills is reflected in the salaries offered to category managers. Generally, a qualified category manager can expect to pull in between $85,000 and $100,000 as a starting annual salary. An otherwise equally qualified general purchasing manager makes less according to recent studies.
But it is important to dig deeper than just the category expertise. You’ll note my prominent use of the word “qualified” in the foregoing paragraph.
Qualified means having the requisite experience and credentials such as the SPSM Certification. As indicated in the 2007 Purchasing & Supply Management Career & Skills Report, purchasing professionals with the SPSM make over $13,000 a year more than those without it.
So I think it’s smart to first focus on getting a qualification such as the SPSM so as to give yourself a earning potential boost without pigeonholing yourself into more limited opportunities. Then, after getting such a qualification, if you can find a niche in a specific category, you really can increase your earning potential more.