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Career profile Purchasing Agent

Also known as Buyer, Procurement Official, Procurement Specialist, Purchasing Administrator, Purchasing Agent

Purchasing Agent

Also known as Buyer, Procurement Official, Procurement Specialist

Interests Profile
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
  • Realistic
Pay Range
$39,810 - $112,170 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Negotiation
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Administration and Management
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Mathematics
Core tasks
  • Monitor and follow applicable laws and regulations.
  • Prepare purchase orders, solicit bid proposals, and review requisitions for goods and services.
  • Negotiate, renegotiate, and administer contracts with suppliers, vendors, and other representatives.
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What does a Purchasing Agent do?

Purchasing Agents purchase machinery, equipment, tools, parts, supplies, or services necessary for the operation of an establishment.

In addition, Purchasing Agents

  • purchase raw or semifinished materials for manufacturing,
  • may negotiate contracts.

What kind of tasks does a Purchasing Agent perform regularly?

Purchasing Agents are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Monitor and follow applicable laws and regulations.
  • Prepare purchase orders, solicit bid proposals, and review requisitions for goods and services.
  • Negotiate, renegotiate, and administer contracts with suppliers, vendors, and other representatives.
  • Purchase the highest quality merchandise at the lowest possible price and in correct amounts.
  • Analyze price proposals, financial reports, and other data and information to determine reasonable prices.
  • Formulate policies and procedures for bid proposals and procurement of goods and services.
  • Confer with staff, users, and vendors to discuss defective or unacceptable goods or services and determine corrective action.
  • Research and evaluate suppliers, based on price, quality, selection, service, support, availability, reliability, production and distribution capabilities, and the supplier's reputation and history.
  • Maintain and review computerized or manual records of purchased items, costs, deliveries, product performance, and inventories.
  • Hire, train, or supervise purchasing clerks, buyers, and expediters.
  • Evaluate and monitor contract performance to ensure compliance with contractual obligations and to determine need for changes.
  • Monitor shipments to ensure that goods come in on time, and resolve problems related to undelivered goods.
  • Study sales records and inventory levels of current stock to develop strategic purchasing programs that facilitate employee access to supplies.
  • Write and review product specifications, maintaining a working technical knowledge of the goods or services to be purchased.
  • Review catalogs, industry periodicals, directories, trade journals, and Internet sites and consult with other department personnel to locate necessary goods and services.
  • Monitor changes affecting supply and demand, tracking market conditions, price trends, or futures markets.
  • Interview vendors and visit suppliers' plants and distribution centers to examine and learn about products, services, and prices.
  • Arrange the payment of duty and freight charges.
  • Attend meetings, trade shows, conferences, conventions, and seminars to network with people in other purchasing departments.

The above responsibilities are specific to Purchasing Agents. More generally, Purchasing Agents are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Communicating with People Outside the Organization
Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others
Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.

What is a Purchasing Agent salary?

The median salary for a Purchasing Agent is $66,690, and the average salary is $72,370. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Purchasing Agent salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Purchasing Agents earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Purchasing Agents earn less than $39,810 per year, 25% earn less than $50,840, 75% earn less than $88,600, and 90% earn less than $112,170.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Purchasing Agents is expected to change by -5.4%, and there should be roughly 39,500 open positions for Purchasing Agents every year.

Median annual salary
$66,690
Typical salary range
$39,810 - $112,170
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
-5.4%

What personality traits are common among Purchasing Agents?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Purchasing Agent are usually higher in their Conventional and Enterprising interests.

Purchasing Agents typically have very strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Also, Purchasing Agents typically have very strong Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Purchasing Agent tend to value Working Conditions, Independence, and Support.

Most importantly, Purchasing Agents strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Second, Purchasing Agents moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Purchasing Agents moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Purchasing Agents must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, attention to detail, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Purchasing Agents, ranked by importance:

Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

What education and training do Purchasing Agents need?

Many Purchasing Agents will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Purchasing Agents usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Purchasing Agents

  • 2.8% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 19.9% completed high school or secondary school
  • 24.1% completed some college coursework
  • 10.2% earned a Associate's degree
  • 34.2% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 8.0% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.8% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Purchasing Agents

Purchasing Agents may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as administration and management, customer and personal service, or mathematics knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Purchasing Agents might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Economics and Accounting
Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking, and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

Important Abilities needed by Purchasing Agents

Purchasing Agents must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Purchasing Agents need abilities such as written comprehension, oral comprehension, and oral expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Purchasing Agents, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Information Ordering
The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

Critical Skills needed by Purchasing Agents

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Purchasing Agents frequently use skills like negotiation, reading comprehension, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Purchasing Agents, ranked by their relative importance.

Negotiation
Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Complex Problem Solving
Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.