dcsimg



Schools in the USA
Back to Career Search     

Purchasing Agent


Description

Purchasing agents, also called buyers, buy goods, materials, commodities, supplies and services and ensure that they are of the quantity, quality, price and availability required by their organization. They are sometimes thought of as professional shoppers seeking out the highest quality merchandise at the lowest possible price for their organization.

Their work follows a general process; it begins with a purchase assessment (determining which commodities are best), then a search for a good product, finding a supplier, negotiating with vendors on a reasonable low price and awarding a contract that outlines all details and stipulations. In order to carry out their jobs successfully, they must examine sales records and inventory levels of the company's current supply, pinpoint suppliers and keep knowledegable about changes affecting both the supply and demand for products.

Purchasing agents must keep up-to-date on tax laws, importing and exporting laws and insurance policies. Since some of the purchases are from foreign countries, it is important for a purchaser to know how to fill out specific duty documents and also what one can and cannot import and export. Purchasing agents also have to know how the goods are going to be transported from the supplier. Purchasers must use the Internet and research catalogs, network with other purchasers, inspect samples from suppliers, attend trade shows and conventions and do a lot of negotiating in order to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and to make informed decisions.

In large organizations, purchasing agents often specialize in a specific product or group of related commodities, such as steel, wheat, lumber, cotton or oil. Purchasing agents also follow market trends, changing prices and market futures in order to determine which purchases to make. This aspect of their career is closely linked to a retail analyst.
 
View Schools for this Career: 
         Related Careers
arrow Accounting Clerk
arrow Accounts Officer
arrow Actuary
arrow [ view all related careers ]



Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad
Ashford University
You've found Ashford University, where school comes to you. Earn your bachelor's or master's degree online.
Programs Offered:
  • BA/Business Administration - No Concentration
  • MBA - No Specialization

 

 



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$23,270
 
Median Salary:
$40,780
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$76,070

  Interests and Skills  
Purchasing agents must possess good communication, organization and negotiation skills because when dealing with potential vendors and companies, they must be able to get a good price for their product. They should be able to work with many kinds of people but also have the ability to work alone. Agents know how to analyze their options and make important purchasing decisions involving large sums of money, which will ultimately have an effect on the company.

Successful purchasing agents enjoy taking a methodical approach to compiling information, being responsible for projects and the work of others, and negotiating with people. Also, they must be assertive and aggressive in order to get economically sound purchasing done.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Consult with other departments in the organization to determine what goods and materials are needed
  • Develop strategic purchasing programs which facilitate employee access to supplies
  • Oversee the process of issuing requests for information and proposals and tendering contracts to ensure that the process is fair, competitive and legal
  • Purchase the right quality and quantity, at the right time and price, from the best possible source,
  • Assess requirements of an establishment and develop specifications for equipment, materials and supplies to be purchased
  • Determine contract terms and conditions, award contracts or recommend contract awards
  • Establish delivery schedules, monitor progress and contact clients and suppliers to resolve problems
  • Analyze commodity vendor data and forecast trends
  • Trace shipments, follow-up undelivered goods and resolve problems and disputes
  • Arrange the payment of duty and freight charges
  • May hire, train or supervise purchasing clerks
  • Purchasing agents work in an office environment. They spend a majority of their days on computers, purchasing goods and compiling statistical information on their database. Purchasing agents often work more than a standard workweek, with longer hours occasionally required in order to complete a project or attend a trade show. Those working in retail trade will often work longer hours during peak seasons, such as Christmas or Valentine's Day, when more people are out shopping. Many purchasing agents travel visiting suppliers, searching for items and attending conferences.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Purchasing agents are employed by any organization where large sums of money are spent for equipment, supplies and services, including government agencies, construction and manufacturing companies, retail companies, school boards, hospitals, universities, and large business firms.

  Long Term Career Potential  
An experienced purchasing agent may advance to senior management positions or move into related areas such as materials management, inventory management, traffic or transportation, quality control or finance. Continuing one's education through correspondence or updating skills is a great idea for advancement. Purchasing agents can also change careers and become marketing managers, financial analysts and consultants.
 

  Educational Paths  
Most purchasing agents have a bachelor's degree or college diploma in business administration, commerce or a related field at the minimum. Business related courses would teach potential purchasing agents how to calculate cost analysis, study legal issues and contract administration. Agents who purchase specialized materials may also require a related university degree or college diploma. For example, a bachelor's degree or college diploma in environmental studies may be required for purchasers of environmental products. Many purchasing agents also have master's degrees and even doctorates.

Recent graduates usually start in entry-level positions such as purchasing clerk, expediter or junior buyer and then work their way up the company ladder. Many companies provide on-the-job training for newly hired purchasing agents.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Ashford University
You've found Ashford University, where school comes to you. Earn your bachelor's or master's degree online.
Programs Offered:
  • BA/Business Administration - No Concentration
  • MBA - No Specialization

 
Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor of Science: Business Administration: Communications
  • Bachelor of Science: Business Administration: Marketing Analytics
  • Bachelor of Science: Business Administration: Public Administration
  • And more...

 
California College San Diego

The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started

Programs Offered:
  • Business Administration - New Media Marketing (BS)
  • Business Administration - Property Management (BS)
  • Business Administration (BS)

 
Saint Marys University of Minnesota

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota's Online Master's Programs

At Saint Mary's, we take pride in offering online graduate degrees designed to complement the schedules of working adults like you. Get an affordable, convenient education from a top-ranked university that's grounded in real-world applications.

Programs Offered:
  • Accelerated MBA

 
Northcentral University

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

Programs Offered:
  • General Business - D.B.A.
  • MBA - Building Creativity
  • MBA - Strategic Management
  • And more...

 
Syracuse University - MBA

MBA@Syracuse is the top-ranked online Master of Business Administration from the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Business Adminitration (MBA)

 
Widener University

Why Choose Widener University?

At Widener University, we proudly cultivate challenging and culturally diverse learning environments where academics, leadership, and service come first. Our curricula are connected to societal issues and challenge students to take social responsibility for their role in today's global society.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Business Administration - Business Process Innovation
  • Dual Master of Jurusprudence in Corporate and Business Law / Master of Business Administration

 
American University - MBA

American University’s Kogod School of Business has been educating business leaders since opening its doors in 1955 as Washington D.C.’s first university-level school of business.

Programs Offered:
  • MBA

 
Keiser University Graduate School

Since 1977, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals.  Our student-centered approach remains at the foundation of the Keiser University mission and continues to attract students who prefer a more personal learning experience.

Programs Offered:
  • Master in Business Administration - Management
  • Doctor of Business Administration, DBA

 
Argosy University

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

Programs Offered:
  • Business Administration (BS) (Online)
  • Business Administration - Customized Professional (BS) (Online)

 
Matching School Ads
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Oregon
University of OttawaYork University
Agriculture and Bio-resources | Allied Health and Health Sciences | Applied Business Technology | Architecture
Business Administration | Computer Science | Cosmetology and Esthetics | Culinary, Travel &Hospitality | Dance 
Engineering Technology & Applied Technology |Engineering | Film | Fine Arts and Design | Humanities and Liberal ArtsJustice and Security
Music
| Natural and Applied Sciences | Naturopathic and Holistic MedicineNursingPublic Administration & PolicyReligious and Theological Studies
Sport Sciences and Physical Education | Teacher Education | Theatre
Articles | College News | Videos | Feedback | Career Search
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Faq | Terms of Use | Policy Statement | Site Map | Cities Site Map

Copyright 2003- 2017 QuinStreet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.