Many procurement clerks work for the government either on the federal, state, or local level. Automation is increasingly taking over the parts of the job that were traditionally those of the procurement clerk. Therefore, job availability is expected to be stagnant; as sending jobs offshore may become less prevalent in the near future, this may change.
As a procurement clerk, you put together requests for materials, ready purchase orders, and keep track of purchases and supplies. You also handle order inquiries. You may also be called a purchasing technician or purchasing clerk. In essence, your job is to order goods and supplies for a particular organization, meaning your company, the federal government, the state government, etc. You also make sure that what you've purchased comes on time and meets the requirements you had in mind when you placed the order in the first place.
As stated previously, procurement clerks are becoming a somewhat rare breed, since automation has taken over part of their job duties. For instance, goods orders can be placed electronically and automatically when a company's supplies become low. However, the job of the procurement clerk is still necessary in many firms, and your job as a procurement clerk or in other purchasing procurement jobs will be unchanged for many businesses and organizations.
Besides procuring goods for a company, those working in procurement may also perform other tasks. If your company is small or medium-sized, you may take on a multitasking role. For example, you may process purchase requests as would normally be the case in any procurement job, but you may also search the Internet to see if cheaper supplies can be found or prepare invitation to bid forms and mail them to suppliers or distribute them so that they can be posted publicly and invite bids for the lowest cost. As a procurement clerk, you may also have to dust off your interview skills. You may have to interview potential suppliers to see if they have what you want and to check their prices. Also, you may put spreadsheets together that show price comparisons and facts about each supplier you have interviewed. Once the organization has approved a particular purchase, you may compare and mail the purchase orders and then import the data into the computers.
You may also have to account for any delays that happen. If the supplier has any questions, you as the clerk can try to answer them and help resolve any problems or bottlenecks that have occurred in the supply chain. You may also have to make sure the purchase order and shipments match. You may be responsible for notifying vendors if invoices have not been received and make sure that invoices and bills match the purchase orders.
Some procurement clerks are actually in charge of overseeing inventory. If that's true, you may have to monitor inventory movement and keep track of inventory for bookkeeping purposes. You may keep track of spreadsheets and place orders when materials run low.
Education and Training
A high school diploma is usually required, and on-the-job training is provided. It's also helpful if you are well-versed in the use of computers, particularly word processing and spreadsheet programs. This is especially important because tasks such as preparing purchase orders are usually performed via computer.
In some cases, you can advance to the role of purchasing buyer or agent if you show that you have an understanding of contracts and purchasing in general. For that, a bachelor's degree is usually required in the area of engineering, supply management, business, or economics.
With certification, those who work as procurement clerks can show that they have the skills and understanding necessary to move on to more advanced purchasing tasks. You can also receive several certifications specific to the field, such as the Certified Purchasing Manager designation, soon to be replaced by the Certified Professional and Supply Management credential. Both of these certifications are given by the American Purchasing Society. Similar certifications exist at the federal, state, and local governmental levels.
As automation increasingly takes over the more mundane tasks of this sector, job prospects are expected to decline. For example, being able to order purchases directly over the Internet without having to go through a procurement clerk is one of the reasons this job sector will decline. If you have good communication skills and computer literacy, you'll have a much better chance of finding a position than someone who doesn't. Procurement clerks generally earn about $16 an hour, with more experienced clerks earning about $20 an hour. If you work for the federal government, you can earn more than $22 an hour, or about $41,000 a year.
Purchasing procurement jobs and entry-level procurement jobs are in one area of the job industry where one does not usually need an advanced education beyond high school to get work. However, these jobs are pretty competitive, since automation is increasingly taking over some of the tasks procurement clerks and other procurement professionals normally do. If you have good communication skills and are well-versed in computer use, you'll have an easier time finding work than someone without these qualifications. In addition, if you show talent in this area and get a bachelor's degree, you can advance to other jobs in the sector, such as that of a purchasing agent or buyer.