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Purchasing Agent

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What Does it Take to Be a Purchasing Agent?

Career Description Purchase machinery, equipment, tools, parts, supplies, or services necessary for the operation of an establishment. Purchase raw or semi-finished materials for manufacturing.

Purchasing Agent Responsibilities

  • Arrange the payment of duty and freight charges.
  • Confer with staff, users, and vendors to discuss defective or unacceptable goods or services and determine corrective action.
  • Formulate policies and procedures for bid proposals and procurement of goods and services.
  • Attend meetings, trade shows, conferences, conventions, and seminars to network with people in other purchasing departments.
  • Analyze price proposals, financial reports, and other data and information to determine reasonable prices.
  • Write and review product specifications, maintaining a working technical knowledge of the goods or services to be purchased.

What Skills Do You Need to Work as a Purchasing Agent?

Purchasing Agents state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

Negotiation: Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

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.

Management of Financial Resources: Determining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.

Other Purchasing Agent Job Titles

  • Timber Buyer
  • Print Buyer
  • Equipment, Supplies, and Tools Purchasing Agent
  • Procurement Specialist
  • Contract Administrator

Purchasing Agent Job Outlook

There were about 309,400 jobs for Purchasing Agent in 2016 (in the United States). There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Purchasing Agent. There will be an estimated 23,800 positions for Purchasing Agent per year.


The states with the most job growth for Purchasing Agent are Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

What Tools & Technology do Purchasing Agents Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Purchasing Agents:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Data entry software
  • SAP
  • Microsoft Project
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Microsoft Visio
  • Microsoft Dynamics
  • IBM Notes
  • Google Docs
  • FileMaker Pro
  • Intuit QuickBooks
  • Oracle PeopleSoft
  • Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne

How to Become a Purchasing Agent

Are there Purchasing Agents education requirements?


What work experience do I need to become a Purchasing Agent?


Similar Careers

Those interested in being a Purchasing Agent may also be interested in:

Are you already one of the many Purchasing Agent in the United States? If you’re thinking about changing careers, these fields are worth exploring:


Image Credit: Nick Nijhuis via Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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