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Become A Purchasing Agent

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Working As A Purchasing Agent

  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $47,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Purchasing Agent Do

Buyers and purchasing agents buy products and services for organizations to use or resell. They evaluate suppliers, negotiate contracts, and review the quality of products.

Duties

Buyers and purchasing agents typically do the following:

  • Evaluate suppliers on the basis of the price, quality, and speed of delivery of their products and services
  • Interview vendors and visit suppliers’ plants and distribution centers to examine and learn about products, services, and prices
  • Attend meetings, trade shows, and conferences to learn about new industry trends and make contacts with suppliers
  • Analyze price proposals, financial reports, and other information to determine reasonable prices
  • Negotiate contracts on behalf of their organization
  • Work out agreements with suppliers, such as when products will be delivered
  • Meet with staff and vendors to discuss defective or unacceptable goods or services and determine corrective action
  • Evaluate and monitor contracts to be sure that vendors and supplies comply with the terms and conditions of the contract and to determine the need for changes
  • Maintain and review records of items bought, costs, deliveries, product performance, and inventories

Buyers and purchasing agents buy farm products, durable and nondurable goods, and services for organizations and institutions. They try to get the best deal for their organization: the highest quality goods and services at the lowest cost. They do this by studying sales records and inventory levels of current stock, identifying foreign and domestic suppliers, and keeping up to date with changes affecting both the supply of, and demand for, products and materials.

Purchasing agents and buyers consider price, quality, availability, reliability, and technical support when choosing suppliers and merchandise. To be effective, purchasing agents and buyers must have a working technical knowledge of the goods or services they are purchasing.

Evaluating suppliers is one of the most critical functions of a buyer or purchasing agent. Many organizations run on a lean manufacturing schedule and use just-in-time inventories, so any delays in the supply chain can shut down production and cause the organization to lose customers.

Buyers and purchasing agents use many resources to find out all they can about potential suppliers. They attend meetings, trade shows, and conferences to learn about new industry trends and make contacts with suppliers.

They often interview prospective suppliers and visit their plants and distribution centers to assess their capabilities. For example, they may discuss the design of products with design engineers, quality concerns with production supervisors, or shipping issues with managers in the receiving department.

Buyers and purchasing agents must make certain that the supplier can deliver the desired goods or services on time, in the correct quantities, and without sacrificing quality. Once they have gathered information on suppliers, they sign contracts with suppliers who meet the organization’s needs and they place orders.

Buyers who purchase items to resell to customers may determine which products their organization will sell. They need to be able to predict what will appeal to their customers. If they are wrong, they could jeopardize the profits and reputation of their organization.

Buyers who work for large organizations often specialize in purchasing one or two categories of products or services. Buyers who work for smaller businesses or government agencies may be responsible for making a greater variety of purchases.

Wholesale and retail buyers purchase goods for resale to consumers. Examples of these goods are clothing and electronics. Purchasing specialists who buy finished goods for resale are commonly known as buyers or merchandise managers.

Purchasing agents and buyers of farm products buy agricultural products for further processing or resale. Examples of these products are grain, cotton, and tobacco.

Purchasing agents, except wholesale, retail, and farm products buy items for the operation of an organization. Examples of these items are chemicals and industrial equipment needed for a manufacturing establishment, and office supplies.

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How To Become A Purchasing Agent

Although a high school diploma may be sufficient for some positions, many employers require buyers and purchasing agents to have a bachelor’s degree. Most entry-level positions require some form of on-the-job training.

Education

Educational requirements usually vary with the size of the organization. Although a high school diploma may be enough at some organizations, many businesses require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. For many positions, a degree in business, finance, or supply management is sufficient.

For those interested in a career as a buyer or purchasing agent of farm products, a degree in agriculture, agriculture production, or animal science is often beneficial.

Training

Buyers and purchasing agents typically get on-the-job training for more than 1 year. During this time, they learn how to perform their basic duties, including monitoring inventory levels and negotiating with suppliers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

There are several certifications available for buyers and purchasing agents. Although some employers require certification, many do not.

Most of these certifications involve oral or written exams and have education and work experience requirements.

The Institute for Supply Management offers the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) credential, which covers a wide scope of purchasing professional duties. To receive the CPSM credential, candidates must pass three exams and those with a bachelor’s degree must possess at least 3 years of relevant work experience while those without a bachelor’s degree must have at least 5 years of relevant work experience.

The American Purchasing Society offers the Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) certification. The CPP certification is valid for 5 years. Candidates must earn a certain number of professional development “points” to renew their certification. Candidates initially become eligible and can renew their certification through a combination of purchasing-related experience, education, and professional contributions (such as published articles or delivered speeches).

APICS offers the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. Applicants must have 3 years of relevant business experience or a bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible for the CSCP credential. The credential is valid for 5 years. Candidates must also earn a certain number of professional development points to renew their certification.

The Next Level Purchasing Association offers the Senior Professional in Supply Management (SPSM) Certification. Although there are no education or work experience requirements, applicants must complete six online courses and pass an SPSM exam. Certification is valid for 4 years. Candidates must complete 32 continuing education hours in procurement-related topics to recertify for an additional four-year period.

The Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC) offers two certifications for workers in federal, state, and local government. The Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) credential requires applicants to have earned at least an associate’s degree, possess at least 3 years of public procurement experience, and complete relevant training courses. The Certified Public Purchasing Officer (CPPO) requires applicants to have earned a bachelor’s degree, possess at least 5 years of public procurement experience, and complete additional training courses.

Those with the CPPB or the CPPO designation must renew their certification every 5 years by completing continuing education courses or attending procurement-related conferences or events.

The National Institute of Government Purchasing (NIGP), Institute for Public Procurement offers preparation courses for the UPPCC certification exams.

Advancement

An experienced purchasing agent or buyer may become an assistant purchasing manager before advancing to purchasing manager, supply manager, or director of materials management. Buyers and purchasing agents with extensive work experience can also advance to become the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) for an organization.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. When evaluating suppliers, buyers and purchasing agents must analyze their options and choose a supplier with the best combination of price, quality, delivery, or service. 

Decisionmaking skills. Buyers and purchasing agents must have the ability to make informed and timely decisions, choosing products that they think will sell.

Math skills. Buyers and purchasing agents must possess basic math skills. They must be able to compare prices from different suppliers to ensure that their organization is getting the best deal. 

Negotiating skills. Buyers and purchasing agents often must negotiate the terms of a contract with a supplier. Interpersonal skills and self-confidence, in addition to knowledge of the product, can help lead to successful negotiations.

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Purchasing Agent Career Paths

Purchasing Agent
Buyer Purchasing Manager
Director Of Purchasing
10 Yearsyrs
Buyer Senior Buyer Purchasing Manager
Senior Purchasing Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Buyer Purchasing Manager
Senior Sourcing Manager
13 Yearsyrs
Buyer Material Manager
Materials Director
12 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Owner Vice President
Supply Chain Vice President
17 Yearsyrs
Contracts Specialist Contracts Administrator Subcontract Administrator
Subcontracts Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Planner/Buyer Senior Buyer
Senior Manager, Procurement
11 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Operations Manager Supply Chain Manager
Global Supply Chain Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Assistant Manager Warehouse Manager Material Manager
Materials Planning Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Assistant Manager Operations Manager Supply Chain Manager
Director Of Supply Chain Operations
12 Yearsyrs
Material Manager Director Of Purchasing
Director Of Strategic Sourcing
13 Yearsyrs
Manager Of Purchasing & Materials
10 Yearsyrs
Operations Manager Supply Chain Manager Director Of Purchasing
Director Of Global Sourcing
14 Yearsyrs
Contracts Specialist Contracts Manager
Project Procurement Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Planner/Buyer Senior Purchasing Agent
Procurement Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Contracts Specialist Contracts Manager Senior Sourcing Manager
Director Of Sourcing
13 Yearsyrs
Planner/Buyer Supply Chain Specialist
Materials Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Procurement Agent Senior Manager, Procurement
Global Procurement Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Procurement Analyst Senior Purchasing Agent
Manager, Operations And Procurement
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Purchasing Agent?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Purchasing Buyer 4.7 years
Purchasing Manager 4.7 years
Plant Buyer 4.1 years
Purchasing Agent 4.0 years
Buyer 4.0 years
Planner/Buyer 4.0 years
Technical Buyer 3.7 years
Procurement Buyer 3.6 years
Buyer/Expeditor 3.6 years
Material Analyst 3.3 years
Purchaser 3.2 years
Procurement Agent 3.2 years
Purchase Analyst 2.7 years
Top Careers Before Purchasing Agent
Buyer 18.7%
Cashier 4.1%
Manager 3.4%
Secretary 2.1%
Top Careers After Purchasing Agent
Buyer 17.6%
Cashier 3.4%
Manager 3.0%
Owner 2.8%

Do you work as a Purchasing Agent?

Purchasing Agent Demographics

Gender

Female

47.1%

Male

45.3%

Unknown

7.5%
Ethnicity

White

63.0%

Hispanic or Latino

15.9%

Black or African American

11.3%

Asian

6.5%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

58.2%

Chinese

5.7%

French

5.5%

Mandarin

5.4%

German

4.5%

Japanese

3.3%

Portuguese

2.5%

Cantonese

2.0%

Italian

2.0%

Korean

1.6%

Russian

1.6%

Arabic

1.6%

Carrier

1.5%

Hindi

1.3%

Polish

0.8%

Vietnamese

0.6%

Tagalog

0.6%

Urdu

0.6%

Swedish

0.3%

Gujarati

0.3%
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Purchasing Agent Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

29.0%

University of Houston

5.5%

Strayer University

5.4%

Pennsylvania State University

5.1%

Ashford University

4.8%

Arizona State University

4.3%

Michigan State University

4.2%

Miami Dade College

4.1%

Webster University

3.9%

Indiana Wesleyan University

3.7%

Purdue University

3.4%

Florida International University

3.2%

Ohio State University

3.1%

Liberty University

3.1%

Texas A&M University

3.1%

Southern New Hampshire University

3.0%

Florida State University

2.8%

American InterContinental University

2.8%

DePaul University

2.8%

Kaplan University

2.7%
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Majors

Business

46.7%

Accounting

8.7%

Management

6.0%

Supply Chain Management

4.0%

Marketing

3.9%

Psychology

2.8%

Finance

2.8%

General Studies

2.7%

Communication

2.4%

Health Care Administration

2.4%

Criminal Justice

2.3%

Education

2.2%

Liberal Arts

2.2%

Computer Science

1.9%

English

1.5%

Political Science

1.5%

Nursing

1.5%

Human Resources Management

1.5%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.5%

Computer Information Systems

1.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

40.5%

Other

27.0%

Associate

13.7%

Masters

11.3%

Certificate

5.3%

Diploma

1.3%

Doctorate

0.4%

License

0.4%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$47,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$29,000
Min 10%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
IAP Worldwide Services
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.3 years
How much does a Purchasing Agent make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Purchasing Agent in the United States is $47,581 per year or $23 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $29,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $77,000.

Real Purchasing Agent Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Chief Purchasing Agent-Asia Alliance Laundry Systems Ripon, WI Dec 14, 2016 $117,042 -
$125,000
Chief Purchasing Agent-Asia Alliance Laundry Systems LLC Ripon, WI Aug 20, 2016 $117,042 -
$125,000
Logistics Purchasing Agent Mia Cucina Coral Gables, FL Sep 30, 2016 $115,000
Purchasing Agent III Kiewit Energy Group Inc. Lenexa, KS Apr 07, 2015 $100,818
Purchasing Agent III Kiewit Energy Group Inc. Lenexa, KS Sep 03, 2016 $100,818
Purchasing Agent As One International, Inc. Secaucus, NJ Nov 25, 2015 $86,715
Purchasing Agent III Kiewit Energy Group Inc. Lenexa, KS Jul 30, 2015 $85,530
Purchasing Agent III Kiewit Energy Group Inc. Lenexa, KS Mar 02, 2015 $85,530
Purchasing Agent III (Purchasing Manager) Kiewit Energy Group Inc. Lenexa, KS Aug 10, 2015 $85,530
Purchasing Agent KWI (Tx), Inc. Coppell, TX Feb 26, 2016 $84,739
Direct Material Buyer KOYO Bearings North America LLC Greenville, SC Jul 22, 2016 $83,858
Purchasing Agent III Kiewit Energy Group Inc. Lenexa, KS Sep 11, 2015 $83,200
Purchasing Agent Sugarland Petroleum Inc. Houston, TX Jun 20, 2016 $82,326
Raw Materials Buyer Flint Group Us LLC Plymouth, MI Oct 17, 2016 $80,000
Purchasing Agent Shake-N-Go Fashion Inc. Port Washington, NY Sep 08, 2015 $60,210
Purchasing Agent Seungsan Pack America Corporation Montgomery, AL May 26, 2016 $60,000
Purchasing Agent Sima G Ltd. New York, NY Mar 09, 2015 $60,000
Purchasing Agent One Source Trading Inc. District Heights, MD Sep 09, 2015 $60,000
Inventory & Procurement Coordinator-Global Sourcing Ameriwood Industries Wright City, MO Jan 12, 2015 $58,000 -
$68,000
Purchasing Agent Foxconn Ems, Inc. Houston, TX Jun 15, 2016 $56,618
Purchasing Agent Santos CMI, Inc. (U.S.A.) Houston, TX Oct 01, 2015 $56,000
Purchasing Agent Santos CMI, Inc. (U.S.A) Houston, TX Oct 01, 2015 $56,000
Purchasing Agent JAK Marketing LLC New York, NY Aug 24, 2015 $45,142
Purchasing Agent Real River Corporation Doral, FL Mar 30, 2016 $45,000
Purchasing Agent WLC General Construction Corp Hackensack, NJ Feb 09, 2016 $45,000
Purchasing Agent Jasmine Trading Corp. NY Sep 22, 2016 $44,850
Purchasing Agent Ralex Services Inc. New Rochelle, NY Nov 16, 2015 $44,850
Purchasing Agent L F Outerwear, LLC NY Mar 05, 2015 $44,512
Purchasing Agent S&S International LLC Houston, TX Sep 18, 2016 $44,000

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Top Skills for A Purchasing Agent

  1. Purchase Orders
  2. Vendor Invoices
  3. Office Supplies
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Supervised and monitored purchase orders, service agreements, bids and vendor selection, government subcontracting reports and contract administration.
  • Research discrepancies involved in reconciliation of vendor invoices to purchase orders or notification from vendor and resolves shipment discrepancies.
  • Implemented a new system of ordering and the control of office supplies that resulted in a cost savings for the company.
  • Established and maintained an annual cycle inventory schedule for on-hand peacetime operating stock and aircraft spare parts worth 75 million dollars.
  • Worked directly with Operations to develop a structured schedule and visibility on shortages to production and customer service/ account managers.

What is it like to work as a Purchasing Agent

5.0

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Purchasing Agent.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Purchasing Agent?

I learned all that I knew by doing. I had no college just hands on by day to day interaction with vendors and co workers... Show More

What do you NOT like?

In most cases I'm finding you need a college degree to do what I did without it. I know there is a company out there that would train me. I could be an asset if given a chance... Show More

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Top 10 Best States for Purchasing Agents

  1. Georgia
  2. Rhode Island
  3. Michigan
  4. Connecticut
  5. Virginia
  6. District of Columbia
  7. Maryland
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Minnesota
  10. Ohio
  • (224 jobs)
  • (25 jobs)
  • (248 jobs)
  • (139 jobs)
  • (201 jobs)
  • (33 jobs)
  • (138 jobs)
  • (195 jobs)
  • (158 jobs)
  • (265 jobs)

Top Purchasing Agent Employers

Jobs From Top Purchasing Agent Employers

Purchasing Agent Videos

Purchasing Agent, Career Video from drkit.org

Becoming A Successful Purchasing Agent

Purchasing Agent Tucker Georgia

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