Purchasing Agents, Except Wholesale, Retail, and Farm Products
Purchase machinery, equipment, tools, parts, supplies, or services necessary for the operation of an establishment. Purchase raw or semifinished materials for manufacturing. May negotiate contracts.
Sample of reported job titles: Buyer, Procurement Official, Procurement Specialist, Purchasing Administrator, Purchasing Agent
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Monitor and follow applicable laws and regulations.
- Prepare purchase orders, solicit bid proposals, and review requisitions for goods and services.
- Negotiate, renegotiate, and administer contracts with suppliers, vendors, and other representatives.
- Purchase the highest quality merchandise at the lowest possible price and in correct amounts.
- Analyze price proposals, financial reports, and other data and information to determine reasonable prices.
- Formulate policies and procedures for bid proposals and procurement of goods and services.
- Hire, train, or supervise purchasing clerks, buyers, and expediters.
- Maintain and review computerized or manual records of purchased items, costs, deliveries, product performance, and inventories.
- Research and evaluate suppliers, based on price, quality, selection, service, support, availability, reliability, production and distribution capabilities, and the supplier’s reputation and history.
- Confer with staff, users, and vendors to discuss defective or unacceptable goods or services and determine corrective action.
- Evaluate and monitor contract performance to ensure compliance with contractual obligations and to determine need for changes.
- Monitor shipments to ensure that goods come in on time, and resolve problems related to undelivered goods.
- Study sales records and inventory levels of current stock to develop strategic purchasing programs that facilitate employee access to supplies.
- Write and review product specifications, maintaining a working technical knowledge of the goods or services to be purchased.
- Review catalogs, industry periodicals, directories, trade journals, and Internet sites and consult with other department personnel to locate necessary goods and services.
- Monitor changes affecting supply and demand, tracking market conditions, price trends, or futures markets.
- Interview vendors and visit suppliers’ plants and distribution centers to examine and learn about products, services, and prices.
- Arrange the payment of duty and freight charges.
- Attend meetings, trade shows, conferences, conventions, and seminars to network with people in other purchasing departments.
Find occupations related to multiple tasks
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- Accounting software — Choice Job Cost; Cost accounting software; CPR International GeneralCOST Estimator; Intuit QuickBooks
- Analytical or scientific software — Construction Management Software ProEst; QSM SLIM; Resources Calculations Incorporated SoftCost; WinEstimator WinEst
- Business intelligence and data analysis software — IBM Cognos Impromptu ; MicroStrategy
- Cloud-based data access and sharing software — Microsoft SharePoint
- Data base reporting software — Database reporting software; SAP BusinessObjects Crystal Reports; Software AG
- Data base user interface and query software — Data entry software; Microsoft Access ; Oracle software ; Sage 100 Contractor (see all 7 examples)
- Document management software — Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
- Electronic mail software — IBM Notes ; Microsoft Outlook
- Enterprise resource planning ERP software — Microsoft Dynamics GP ; NetSuite ERP ; Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ; Oracle PeopleSoft (see all 9 examples)
- Enterprise system management software — IBM Power Systems software
- Financial analysis software — Cost estimation software; IBM Costimater; Oracle E-Business Suite Financials; Softstar Costar COCOMO II (see all 5 examples)
- Graphics or photo imaging software — SmugMug Flickr
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Inventory management software — Inventory management systems
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Process mapping and design software — Microsoft Visio
- Project management software — Dexter + Cheney Spectrum Construction Software; Galorath SEER-SEM; Microsoft Project ; Oracle Primavera Enterprise Project Portfolio Management
- Sales and marketing software — Google AdWords
- Spreadsheet software — Apple AppleWorks; Corel QuattroPro; IBM Lotus 1-2-3; Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Google Docs ; Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Economics and Accounting — Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking, and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
- Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
- Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
- Administrative — Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Transportation — Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
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- Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- 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.
- 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 Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Management of Financial Resources — Determining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Management of Material Resources — Obtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.
- Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
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- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
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- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Selling or Influencing Others — Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Purchase products or services.
- Evaluate applicable laws and regulations to determine impact on organizational activities.
- Execute sales or other financial transactions.
- Negotiate contracts with clients or service providers.
- Analyze business or financial data.
- Establish organizational guidelines or policies.
- Monitor inventories of products or materials.
- Confer with personnel to coordinate business operations.
- Obtain information about goods or services.
- Maintain data in information systems or databases.
- Supervise employees.
- Train personnel to enhance job skills.
- Monitor organizational processes.
- Develop technical specifications for systems or equipment.
- Analyze market conditions or trends.
- Conduct eligibility or selection interviews.
- Estimate demand for products or services.
- Pay charges, fees, or taxes.
- Develop business relationships.
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- Electronic Mail — 96% responded “Every day.”
- Telephone — 96% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 83% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 64% responded “Extremely important.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 74% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 52% responded “Extremely important.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 48% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Contact With Others — 48% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 50% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 50% responded “Very important results.”
- Time Pressure — 48% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 50% responded “More than half the time.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 68% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 74% responded “Every day.”
- Letters and Memos — 39% responded “Every day.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 43% responded “Very important.”
- Deal With External Customers — 52% responded “Very important.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 35% responded “Very important.”
- Level of Competition — 48% responded “Highly competitive.”
- Consequence of Error — 32% responded “Serious.”
- Frequency of Conflict Situations — 48% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 30% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 35% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 39% responded “Limited responsibility.”
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|Title||Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor’s degree, but some do not.|
|Related Experience||A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.|
|Job Zone Examples||Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include real estate brokers, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|9||High school diploma or equivalent
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Interest code: CE Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
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- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
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- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
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Wages & Employment Trends
Median wage data for Buyers and Purchasing Agents.
Employment data for Buyers and Purchasing Agents.
Industry data for Buyers and Purchasing Agents.
|Median wages (2020)||$32.06 hourly, $66,690 annual|
|Employment (2020)||439,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Decline (-1% or lower)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||39,500|
|Top industries (2020)||
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Purchasing Society
- Institute for Supply Management
- National Association of Educational Procurement
- National Association of State Procurement Officials
- National Procurement Institute
- NIGP: The Institute for Public Procurement
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents
- Universal Public Procurement Certification Council
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