Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Green Job Series: Careers in Biofuels [Sixth Installment]

Once the biofuels have been produced, sales workers are needed to keep supply chains running. This installment of The Daily Leap's green job series profiles sales occupations in the biofuels industry.

Plant Operations Occupations

Sales workers establish contracts so that goods can be bought and sold, and they help to keep biofuel production on schedule.

Job Duties

Purchasing agents buy farm products for further processing or for resale. They evaluate suppliers, negotiate contracts, review product quality, and monitor inventories. Purchasing agents develop budgets based on when and how much of a given feedstock is needed at a plant. They also establish contracts with suppliers, to ensure a steady flow of a given feedstock is transported to the plant to keep production on schedule.

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods—such as fuel, by-products from fuel production, or industrial equipment—for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. They ensure that there are customers to buy the fuel, negotiate prices of these sales, and prepare contracts. They are often very knowledgeable about the products that they sell, but they may also work with an engineer who has more expertise.


Some purchasing agent jobs may only require a high school diploma. However, jobs at large-scale commercial plants generally require a bachelor's degree. Some positions, especially those at the managerial level, may require advanced degrees. Degrees related to engineering, business, economics, or applied sciences are preferred. On-the-job training may take up to 1 year.

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives generally need a bachelor's degree, though some positions may only require a high school diploma. Most companies have on-the-job training programs that a sales representative must complete; these programs usually include time spent shadowing a more experienced employee as they complete day-to-day work. Sales representatives may also choose to earn a certification. The Certified Professional Manufacturers' Representative (CPMR) certification and the Certified Sales Professional (CSP) certification are offered by the Manufacturers' Representatives Education Research Foundation.


BLS currently does not have wage data specific to the biofuels industry. However, BLS does have wage data for the basic chemical manufacturing industry group. The following table shows wages for selected sales occupations in this industry group for May 2011. The wages shown are median annual wages for the United States as a whole; wages vary by employer and location.

Occupation Median annual wage
Buyers and purchasing agents, farm products $51,380
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives, technical and scientific products $83,100

For more detailed information on sales occupations in the biofuels industry, click the Occupational Outlook Handbook link.

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