There are two main types of buyers. Wholesale buyers purchase merchandise directly from manufacturers and resell it to retail firms, commercial establishments, and other institutions. Retail buyers purchase goods from wholesalers (and occasionally from manufacturers) for resale to the general public. In either case, buyers must understand their customers' needs and be able to purchase goods at an appropriate price and in sufficient quantity. Sometimes a buyer is referred to by the type of merchandise purchased—for example, jewelry buyer or toy buyer. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of May 2015 there were approximately 112,200 wholesale and retail buyers employed in the private sector across the United States.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Assistant Buyers, Central Buyers, Government Buyers, Resident Buyers
Duties Purchase goods and services via catalogs, mail, telephone, online, or through traveling salespeople, or on buying trips to a manufacturer for resale in a retail outlet
Salary Range $25,000 to $100,000+
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities exist in all locations with the greatest number in major urban centers. California, New York, Texas, Illinois, and Ohio represent states having the most employment opportunities for wholesale and retail buyers.
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
School Subjects
  • Business
  • Economics
  • Mathematics
Experience One to three years of retail sales and/or purchasing; on-the-job training
Personality Traits
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
  • Organized
  • Business Management
  • Financial
  • Leadership
Certification or Licensing Recommended
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Fair
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook About as Fast as the Average
Career Ladder
  • Purchasing Manager
  • Assistant Purchasing Manager
  • Buyer
  • Assistant Buyer
  • Retail Sales Worker