Steps to Becoming a Procurement Clerk

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A procurement clerk, also called a purchasing technician, or a purchasing clerk has the responsibility for ordering supplies, goods or contracting services for an agency or company. About 23% of procurement clerk jobs are in government agencies. While the position of procurement clerk is being impacted by automation, the number of procurement clerk jobs is expected to remain steady through 2016. High school graduates with solid computer and communication skills have the best chance of earning one of the procurement clerk jobs.

Education and Certification Requirements

People interested in procurement clerk jobs should posses a high school diploma or equivalent. Many employers also require that the procurement clerks have a working understanding on using spreadsheets, word processors, e-mail and some database functions. With the move towards electronic ordering, procurement clerks need to be computer literate to fill order forms accurately.



For the procurement clerk with a bachelor’s degree, they may progress to the level of a buyer or purchasing agent. Buyers and purchasing agents have greater responsibilities in negotiating contracts and larger orders.

There are several certifications available for candidates seeking procurement clerk jobs. Each of the overseeing organizations has experience and training/education requirements as well as written or oral exams that must be passed. Earning a certification shows potential employers that the candidate has a greater understanding of the purchasing, negotiating and contracting process involved with procurement clerk jobs.

The Institute for Supply Management issues the newer Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) that replaced the older Certified Purchasing Manager (CPM). The American Purchasing Society is another oversight body that offers The Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) and the Certified Professional Purchasing Manger (CPPM). The APICS offers the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) as well as the Certified Production and Inventory Management (CPIM). The National Institute of Governmental Purchasing issues the Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) as well as the Certified Public Purchasing Officer (CPPO).

Job Responsibilities

Procurement clerks have the responsibility for preparing and compiling purchase orders to suppliers, as well as maintain records of orders to be sent to departments. The clerk also has the responsibility for monitoring inventory levels and ordering materials as necessary.

The major time investment during the day is spent responding to customer and supplier questions concerning the status of an order, as well as order changes and order cancellations. In addition to these functions, the clerk also follows up with the suppliers to schedule or accelerate deliveries. The clerk also is responsible for resolving missing shipments, late deliveries, or the shipment of incorrect merchandise.

Because there may be multiple suppliers who may be available, the people holding procurement clerk jobs often handle the bidding process. The procurement clerk creates reports, purchasing files and price lists to compare prices and specifications in order to determine winning bids among competing suppliers.

Many times the employees in procurement clerk jobs also have contract and budgetary responsibilities. The clerk may be responsible for reviewing the contract and ensuring that the supplier is meeting the terms of the contract, either through price, volume shipped or quality of delivery. Part of the process is to validate that the materials shipped match the materials listed on the shipping bill. If the bill and the materials match, then the procurement clerk may approve the payment of bills.

Knowledge Requirements

Because of the detailed nature of the position, the procurement clerk should have an in-depth understanding of clerical processes such as word processing, form design, file management and record retention. The procurement clerk also must be able to plan, organize and prioritize work. Many times the procurement clerk may have multiple orders underway with multiple suppliers, requiring follow-up. It is critical that the clerk be able to keep all of the orders accurately filed and the status of the orders accurately recorded.

The procurement clerk has both internal and external customers. The clerk should understand the way to provide customer service. This includes the ability to conduct a customer needs assessment, evaluating customer satisfaction, as well as meet quality standards for services.

As the procurement clerk has responsibility for budgets and determining winning bids, the clerk should have a working knowledge of applied mathematics related to the field that the company needs products. This may include mathematics, algebra, geometry, statistics and calculus as well as their applications to procurement.

While the procurement clerk may have lesser exposure to management than a purchasing agent or a buyer, it is important for the clerk to have a working knowledge of business and management processes and principles involved with resource allocation and modeling. An understanding of strategic planning and human resource modeling and needs may help in planning future purchases.

Because the process of ordering is predominantly electronic, the procurement clerk must be comfortable filling out electronic purchase orders.

Job Outlook

The outlook is changing for procurement clerk jobs. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of procurement clerk jobs is expected to decline by 2%. With the rapid change in business models resulting in outsourcing activities to offshore sites, as well as the advancements in automation, the need for procurement clerks will be reduced.

The move to transfer procurement clerk job responsibilities to departments who are purchasing the goods through ''e-procurement'' will result in a further reduction in the need for additional procurement clerks. The advent of the procurement card has also placed purchasing responsibility to the administrative groups of departments placing orders.

Salary Range

The median base salary for a procurement clerk is under $34,000, with government procurement clerks averaging under $42,000. Salaries are higher for Buyers and Purchasing agents. Salaries also vary by the size of the organization, the responsibilities of the position, and the involvement and complexity of contract negotiating the procurement clerk jobs undertake.

Conclusion

The outlook for procurement clerk jobs is stable through 2016. While the field is changing based on the pressures of outsourcing purchasing, as well as the movement of procurement responsibilities to departments through the use of procurement cards and ''e-procurement'' systems, the need for the same level of procurement clerk jobs indicates that the field will still have openings as current procurement clerks are promoted or move onto other positions.
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