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Purchasing Agent

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All About Purchasing Agents

Position Description Purchase machinery, equipment, tools, parts, supplies, or services necessary for the operation of an establishment. Purchase raw or semi-finished materials for manufacturing.

Purchasing Agent Responsibilities

  • Research and evaluate suppliers, based on price, quality, selection, service, support, availability, reliability, production and distribution capabilities, and the supplier’s reputation and history.
  • Attend meetings, trade shows, conferences, conventions, and seminars to network with people in other purchasing departments.
  • Monitor shipments to ensure that goods come in on time, and resolve problems related to undelivered goods.
  • Review catalogs, industry periodicals, directories, trade journals, and Internet sites and consult with other department personnel to locate necessary goods and services.
  • Monitor and follow applicable laws and regulations.
  • Purchase the highest quality merchandise at the lowest possible price and in correct amounts.

What a Purchasing Agent Should Know

Below is a list of the skills most Purchasing Agents say are important on the job.

Negotiation: Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

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 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.

Management of Financial Resources: Determining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.

  • Fuel Agent
  • Traveling Buyer
  • Procurement Engineer
  • Plant Buyer
  • Area Field Worker

Are There Job Opportunities for Purchasing Agents?

In the United States, there were 309,400 jobs for Purchasing Agent in 2016. There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Purchasing Agent. The BLS estimates 23,800 yearly job openings in this field.


The states with the most job growth for Purchasing Agent are Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Tools & Technologies Used by Purchasing Agents

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Purchasing Agents may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Data entry software
  • SAP
  • Microsoft Project
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Microsoft Visio
  • Microsoft Dynamics
  • IBM Notes
  • Google Docs
  • FileMaker Pro
  • Intuit QuickBooks
  • Oracle PeopleSoft
  • Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne

How to Become a Purchasing Agent

Education needed to be a Purchasing Agent:


How many years of work experience do I need?


Similar Careers

Those thinking about becoming a Purchasing Agent might also be interested in the following careers:

Are you already one of the many Purchasing Agent in the United States? If you’re thinking about changing careers, these fields are worth exploring:


Image Credit: Nick Nijhuis via Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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