How to Become a Purchasing Agent

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Purchasing agents shop as their form of work. They are considered as professional buyers who are asked to acquire and obtain supplies, services, and equipment that a company, organization, or business may need while keeping costs as low as possible. Purchasing agents take into consideration the price, the quality, the availability and reliability, as well as the technical support when in search of and in the process of choosing a supplier and merchandise. The goal of a purchasing agent is to make sure that they are purchasing the highest quality of goods at the lowest possible cost. In order to be effective in this line of work, purchasing agents need to have good in-depth knowledge about the goods or services that need to be purchased.

Purchasing agents analyze and keep track of sales records, note inventory levels, and keep an eye out on the market for any changes that may impact the prices and/or availability of supplies or services needed. Purchasing agents often work hand in hand with other employees of the organization when making decisions about purchases that need to be done. Like for instance, a meeting with design engineers about the quality of the materials needed or a report on shipment delays to the receiving department may also be some tasks that a purchasing agent needs to perform.

Procurement agents or purchasing agents are situated in comfortable offices and work more than 40 hours a week mainly due to deadlines that have to be met, a purchasing seminar he/she needs to attend to, and other conferences needed for the job. Most procurement agents or purchasing agents are not allowed to go on vacation during peak periods in the business.



Purchasing agents should be prepared to work under pressure. Stamina is also needed in order to keep up with the fast-paced work that they have. Several days or times in a month, purchasing agents may be asked to travel to meet sellers or those who provide certain services. Large companies may also require their purchasing agents to travel outside the United States, especially if they are involved in worldwide manufacturing of certain goods.

Educational requirements differ depending on the size of the company. More often, large companies and stores prefer applicants who hold a degree that is related to business. Other larger firms also place a great deal on the applicant having previous work experience or have received formal training in the field. A master's degree in economics or business administration is needed to advance to higher levels.

Knowledge of how to use and operate word processing, spreadsheet software, and the internet are skills that an aspiring purchasing agent must have. The ability to analyze, communicate, and negotiate with suppliers is also a plus. Having an interest in merchandising as well as a skill in planning helps a person succeed in this job. Another skill needed in order to become a successful purchasing agent is the ability to anticipate changes or trends in the preferences of customers.

Most qualified applicants start off as trainees, purchasing clerks, or assistant purchase agents. Training for this position usually lasts 1 to 5 years, but in some smaller companies the trainees start learning by selling goods, acting as a supervisor to sales workers, and keeping tabs on stock and inventory. As the trainee progresses, an increased amount of buying tasks are also given.

As mentioned earlier, some companies, especially the larger ones, prefer candidates who have previous working experience in the same field or a related field, and some prefer candidates who have the required degree and are willing to be trained. Experience requirements vary depending on the size and structure of the organization.

There is not much change seen in the employment of purchasing agents. This is pretty much because of technology and its advancement. Communications and even the process of ordering supplies from suppliers, no matter where they are, can be done over the internet, including the payments. Opportunities as purchasing agents are best for people who hold a bachelor's degree in a related field, but for the government and in larger companies, a master's degree will provide more opportunities.

Annual wages for purchasing agents on average are at $80,000. The state of New Jersey is also the highest paying state, with some hourly rates for purchasing agents as high as $50/hour.

If you like to shop and have a knack for negotiating prices then a job as a purchasing agent may turn out to be your dream job after all.
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 degrees  procurement  United States  bachelor's degree  business administration  shipments  conferences  knowledge  training  inventory


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