In healthcare, some procurement jobs involve tissue procurement for research and study. For example, autopsy samples may be taken from deceased patients with a variety of disorders to study how the disease and any treatments affected the human body. This, in turn, helps researchers and healthcare professionals determine what treatments are best for various illnesses and diseases, and how to revise those treatments so as to both reduce side effects and positively affect the cure rate.
What Procurement Jobs Involve
Procurement clerk jobs are among the most plentiful positions within the procurement industry. Procurement clerks who work in clerical capacities prepare purchase orders, keep track of supplies and purchases, handle inquiries about orders, and put together requests for materials. In essence, their task is to order goods and supplies for a particular organization, as well as to make sure these goods arrive on time and meet the original specifications.
In some respects, the industry is changing because no longer do all job duties have to be fulfilled by procurement clerks. In fact, much of the work can be done automatically. For example, goods for organizations can be ordered automatically when supplies are low. This is only true of very large establishments, though, and many smaller firms still use procurement clerks in every capacity of the job.
A procurement clerk's job duties can vary widely. In some cases, procurement clerks do mostly clerical duties, but they may perform more complex tasks, especially in smaller companies. Most of what they do is to process requests for purchases. First, they determine whether or not any of a particular product is left in their own inventory and, if not, they may go through catalogs or peruse the Internet to find suppliers. They may also prepare bid forms that will invite suppliers to bid on prices for supplies the organization needs, and they may mail the invitations to suppliers or find ways to post them publicly. They may also interview suppliers via telephone or in person to determine what prices are and make sure specifications are in order. They may also put together price comparison spreadsheets with facts about each supplier detail. Once an organization approves a particular bid fulfillment from a supplier, clerks may prepare and mail purchase orders and enter them into the computer.
Keeping Track of Orders
Another of a procurement clerk's job duties is to make sure that orders are on track and not delayed; if they are delayed, they must find out why. If a particular supplier has questions, the procurement clerk is usually the first in line to answer them and to resolve problems. Once the shipments arrive, the procurement clerk reconciles the purchase order with shipment inclusions, makes sure that they match purchase orders, and then notifies vendors of that or of any difficulties, such as if invoices were not received.
In smaller companies, procurement clerks may be responsible for overseeing the given company's inventory control system. They may keep track of how inventories move in-house and help with bookkeeping duties by completing inventory transfer forms.
Education and Background
Procurement clerks are usually required to have a high school diploma or equivalent such as a GED. They may also need to have prior experience for some jobs. Especially on first jobs, procurement clerks receive on-the-job training under close supervision of more experienced procurement clerks or employees. In general, training doesn't last long and finishes after a few months.
In addition to being very organized and being able to keep track of purchases, incoming shipments, and so on, procurement clerks also have to be very computer literate and to know word processing and spreadsheet applications. This is especially important because many of the tasks procurement clerks perform occur via computer, such as preparing purchasing orders.
In addition, procurement clerks may want to get certification to show that they have the skills and knowledge necessary to advance further and to perform more complicated and detailed tasks. Several recognized certifications for purchasing clerks can advance them to the level of purchasing agent or purchasing manager. The Certified Professional Purchasing Manager certification is given by the Institute for Supply Management. For federal government work, this certification is replaced by the Certified Professional Public Buyer designation, which is given by the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing. In most cases, these certifications are only given after education and experience levels are met; in addition, oral or written examinations may have to be completed.
Compensation and Outlook
Jobs in procurement are somewhat uncertain right now because more of the duties performed by procurement clerks and other procurement professionals are being taken over by automation. In addition, as more work becomes automated, procurement duties can be taken care of in a less specialized manner, such as by other employees performing procurement duties in addition to other specified job duties in each department. Another thing that may reduce procurement jobs is the fact that electronic data interchange and the ease of ordering over the Internet, which is called "e-procurement," remove the direct need for a procurement clerk in some cases.
Procurement clerks who have good communications and computer skills will continue to be the most in demand. On average, procurement clerks earned about $16 an hour as of 2006.