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Purchasing Agents

Purchasing agents buy items and services for use by their own firm or organization such as finished products, parts and raw materials for manufacturing. They make sure the company has the goods and services it requires to operate efficiently.

When making purchases, balancing quality with cost is a major consideration. They perform extensive research in order to locate the best deals for their company. Purchasing agents consider various factors such as price, quality, technical support, availability and reliability when choosing goods and suppliers. Choosing the best suppliers is one of the most important elements of a purchasing specialist's job.

Purchasing agents that are employed by small companies sometimes purchase all the goods for the company. Large companies employ numerous purchasing agents and each agent specializes in specific types of parts or raw materials.

The timing of purchases is an important part of the job. If a manufacturing company runs out of raw materials or parts the production delays can be very costly. Purchasing specialists coordinate their company's production schedule with the suppliers schedules.

Responsibilities

  • Select and order goods and services
  • Prepare purchase orders
  • Stay current with prices and market trends
  • Negotiate prices and discount terms
  • Monitor shipments to make sure goods arrive on time and resolve problems regarding undelivered goods
  • Evaluate suppliers
  • Work with expediters who take care of a lot of the paperwork, arrange for shipping and perform other tasks
  • Attend trade shows
  • Authorize payment of invoices
  • Analyze pricing proposals

Job Characteristics

Purchasing professionals sometimes attend meetings, trade shows and conferences to meet with suppliers and stay current with the latest industry trends. They also visit suppliers' plants and distribution facilities to evaluate their capabilities.

Purchasing agents should be proficient with spreadsheets and word processing. Purchasing specialists need the ability to evaluate the technical data included in suppliers' proposals. They should be skilled at performing financial analysis. They also need good planning, mathematical and communication skills.

Employment Outlook

Employment of purchasing agents has been projected to grow by 14 percent from 2008 to 2018 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2008 the median annual earnings for purchasing agents was $53,940. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $88,790.

Experienced purchasing agents may move up to assistant purchasing manager, purchasing manager, supply manager and director of materials management positions. Typically, a graduate degree in business is helpful in acquiring a higher level position.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Most companies prefer applicants that have earned a bachelor's degree. Some employers seek those with a master's degree in business administration. New purchasing agents usually are provided with extensive on-the-job training.

Many manufacturing companies emphasize formal training and seek applicants that have a bachelor's degree or a master's degree in business, engineering, economics or one of the applied sciences. A master's degree is required for many high level purchasing manager positions.

Beyond education requirements, purchasing agents need to learn about the specifics of the company's business. Purchasing agents also need to be knowledgeable about various software packages and the Internet. Purchasing specialists typically have training periods which last from one to five years.

Many purchasing specialists and purchasing managers attend seminars provided by professional societies and take college courses in supply management. There are several recognized credentials available to purchasing agents and purchasing managers. The American Purchasing Society and the Institute for Supply Management offer certification.

Resources

Major Employers

The major employers are private industry, the government, hospitals and schools.

Schools for Purchasing Agents are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Purchasing Agents

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Purchasing Agents jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Huntsville 2000 $78,470
Hoover 1150 $56,670
Birmingham 1150 $56,670
Mobile 430 $59,370
Montgomery 390 $58,100
Tuscaloosa 180 $52,680
Decatur 140 $62,680
Auburn 110 $46,760
Opelika 110 $46,760
Oxford 100 $64,000
Anniston 100 $64,000
Jacksonville 100 $64,000
Daphne 80 $56,110
Fairhope 80 $56,110
Foley 80 $56,110
Dothan 70 $41,220
Florence 60 $59,080
Muscle Shoals 60 $59,080
Gadsden 40 $39,330
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 390 $75,520
Fairbanks 60 $70,020
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mesa 3630 $60,960
Scottsdale 3630 $60,960
Phoenix 3630 $60,960
Tucson 710 $61,340
Douglas 150 $71,010
Sierra Vista 150 $71,010
Flagstaff 100 $56,440
Yuma 80 $67,850
Prescott 70 $50,470
Lake Havasu City 60 $47,140
Kingman 60 $47,140
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 540 $52,810
North Little Rock 540 $52,810
Little Rock 540 $52,810
Jonesboro 60 $56,310
Hot Springs 30 $44,350
Pine Bluff 30 $61,800
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Long Beach 12940 $65,690
Los Angeles 12940 $65,690
Anaheim 12940 $65,690
Hayward 4800 $76,420
San Francisco 4800 $76,420
Oakland 4800 $76,420
Sunnyvale 4040 $76,930
Santa Clara 4040 $76,930
San Jose 4040 $76,930
San Diego 3730 $66,840
Carlsbad 3730 $66,840
Ontario 1930 $53,820
San Bernardino 1930 $53,820
Riverside 1930 $53,820
Arden 1390 $66,890
Arcade 1390 $66,890
Roseville 1390 $66,890
Sacramento 1390 $66,890
Oxnard 640 $62,380
Ventura 640 $62,380
Thousand Oaks 640 $62,380
Fresno 470 $52,350
Bakersfield 410 $72,510
Santa Maria 390 $70,920
Santa Barbara 390 $70,920
Santa Rosa 330 $62,640
Stockton 270 $61,460
Lodi 270 $61,460
Modesto 230 $56,850
Fairfield 230 $64,220
Vallejo 230 $64,220
Paso Robles 190 $59,860
Arroyo Grande 190 $59,860
San Luis Obispo 190 $59,860
Porterville 130 $47,420
Visalia 130 $47,420
Santa Cruz 130 $60,190
Watsonville 130 $60,190
Salinas 120 $65,760
Merced 100 $58,970
Napa 80 $71,050
Redding 60 $59,880
El Centro 60 $63,050
Yuba City 50 $41,220
Chico 50 $51,030
Madera 40 $53,750
Hanford 30 $60,490
Corcoran 30 $60,490
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Aurora 3720 $66,790
Lakewood 3720 $66,790
Denver 3720 $66,790
Colorado Springs 820 $70,880
Boulder 600 $68,420
Fort Collins 360 $61,880
Greeley 180 $51,200
Pueblo 100 $57,090
Grand Junction 80 $47,290
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hartford 1480 $71,880
East Hartford 1480 $71,880
West Hartford 1480 $71,880
Bridgeport 1100 $61,950
Norwalk 1100 $61,950
Stamford 1100 $61,950
New Haven 580 $61,610
Danbury 250 $55,350
Waterbury 110 $55,860
     
Metro Area (Delaware) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dover 80 $54,430
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Miami 4600 $54,600
Fort Lauderdale 4600 $54,600
West Palm Beach 4600 $54,600
Clearwater 2550 $56,330
St. Petersburg 2550 $56,330
Tampa 2550 $56,330
Sanford 2110 $58,560
Orlando 2110 $58,560
Kissimmee 2110 $58,560
Jacksonville 1170 $59,190
Titusville 660 $62,480
Melbourne 660 $62,480
Palm Bay 660 $62,480
Crestview 400 $72,550
Destin 400 $72,550
Fort Walton Beach 400 $72,550
North Port 370 $49,780
Bradenton 370 $49,780
Sarasota 370 $49,780
Winter Haven 290 $53,770
Lakeland 290 $53,770
Cape Coral 280 $46,660
Fort Myers 280 $46,660
Tallahassee 270 $46,850
Port St. Lucie 220 $42,190
Ormond Beach 220 $48,570
Daytona Beach 220 $48,570
Deltona 220 $48,570
Brent 220 $54,000
Pensacola 220 $54,000
Ferry Pass 220 $54,000
Panama City 190 $73,040
Gainesville 160 $48,400
Ocala 140 $49,210
Immokalee 130 $49,470
Naples 130 $49,470
Marco Island 130 $49,470
Sebastian 60 $45,350
Vero Beach 60 $45,350
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sandy Springs 5140 $60,200
Atlanta 5140 $60,200
Roswell 5140 $60,200
Savannah 580 $65,630
Warner Robins 440 $72,550
Athens 140 $49,600
Clarke County 140 $49,600
Gainesville 130 $49,490
Macon 120 $49,430
Dalton 100 $44,440
Albany 100 $70,150
Valdosta 50 $50,740
Hinesville 50 $62,470
Brunswick 50 $74,870
Rome 40 $49,750
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 840 $62,330
Lahaina 50 $54,050
Wailuku 50 $54,050
Kahului 50 $54,050
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 640 $53,240
Idaho Falls 140 $62,310
Coeur d'Alene 80 $44,600
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 560 $76,270
Rockford 310 $53,820
Bloomington 200 $60,210
Springfield 150 $67,830
Urbana 110 $63,130
Champaign 110 $63,130
Decatur 50 $58,980
Danville 40 $51,500
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Indianapolis 1860 $54,290
Anderson 1860 $54,290
Carmel 1860 $54,290
Elkhart 590 $55,710
Goshen 590 $55,710
Fort Wayne 400 $51,760
Columbus 190 $61,210
Terre Haute 140 $56,470
West Lafayette 120 $60,430
Lafayette 120 $60,430
Bloomington 110 $54,970
Muncie 70 $49,880
La Porte 70 $55,960
Michigan City 70 $55,960
Kokomo 50 $45,600
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 500 $55,990
Des Moines 500 $55,990
Cedar Rapids 410 $63,410
Iowa City 160 $58,570
Cedar Falls 130 $51,820
Waterloo 130 $51,820
Dubuque 90 $48,770
Ames 70 $59,040
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 1150 $60,690
Topeka 170 $54,700
Lawrence 80 $64,880
Manhattan 40 $59,160
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 530 $52,220
Lexington 530 $52,220
Fort Knox 140 $62,460
Elizabethtown 140 $62,460
Owensboro 80 $53,510
Bowling Green N/A $54,240
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 750 $54,490
New Orleans 750 $54,490
Baton Rouge 720 $58,490
Lafayette 370 $46,770
Thibodaux 270 $49,110
Houma 270 $49,110
Shreveport 190 $60,520
Bossier City 190 $60,520
Lake Charles 180 $44,970
Monroe 90 $53,130
Alexandria 70 $61,100
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 290 $51,760
Portland 290 $51,760
Lewiston 70 $46,720
Auburn 70 $46,720
Bangor 50 $48,650
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Baltimore 2890 $72,240
Towson 2890 $72,240
Columbia 2890 $72,240
Lexington Park 460 $90,820
California 460 $90,820
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Bedford 100 $61,160
Barnstable Town 70 $60,550
Pittsfield 70 $61,230
Leominster 50 $65,190
Gardner 50 $65,190
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Warren 6590 $70,710
Detroit 6590 $70,710
Dearborn 6590 $70,710
Grand Rapids 1610 $56,310
Wyoming 1610 $56,310
Ann Arbor 750 $60,960
Kalamazoo 350 $53,350
Portage 350 $53,350
East Lansing 330 $59,630
Lansing 330 $59,630
Niles 280 N/A
Benton Harbor 280 N/A
Flint 230 $65,760
Jackson 210 $62,070
Saginaw 180 $51,400
Battle Creek 120 $71,180
Muskegon 110 $50,530
Monroe 100 $76,100
Midland 90 $51,070
Bay City 40 $50,090
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 220 $50,150
St. Cloud 150 $56,020
North Mankato 80 $56,690
Mankato 80 $56,690
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Gulfport 460 $56,460
Pascagoula 460 $56,460
Biloxi 460 $56,460
Jackson 380 $53,690
Hattiesburg 50 $40,680
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 270 $42,690
Jefferson City 180 $45,270
Joplin 100 $43,890
Columbia 80 $47,720
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 120 $49,730
Great Falls 70 $50,050
Missoula 70 $51,850
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 320 $54,940
Grand Island 70 $44,960
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 1460 $49,960
Henderson 1460 $49,960
Las Vegas 1460 $49,960
Reno 270 $54,850
Carson City 50 $59,850
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 190 $66,380
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 490 $73,320
Hammonton 110 $64,930
Atlantic City 110 $64,930
Bridgeton 80 $68,510
Vineland 80 $68,510
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 870 $59,670
Santa Fe 140 $47,500
Las Cruces 110 $53,200
Farmington 60 $52,010
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 1200 $62,580
Niagara Falls 1020 $53,980
Cheektowaga 1020 $53,980
Buffalo 1020 $53,980
Albany 800 $61,660
Schenectady 800 $61,660
Troy 800 $61,660
Syracuse 560 $59,950
Utica 260 $54,730
Rome 260 $54,730
Binghamton 210 $56,510
Ithaca 90 $68,230
Kingston 80 $48,500
Glens Falls 80 $53,730
Fort Drum 70 $49,610
Watertown 70 $49,610
Elmira 60 $56,260
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 1030 $58,720
Chapel Hill 900 $70,800
Durham 900 $70,800
High Point 710 $56,120
Greensboro 710 $56,120
Winston 460 $57,060
Salem 460 $57,060
Morganton 370 $48,430
Lenoir 370 $48,430
Hickory 370 $48,430
Asheville 310 $52,270
Fayetteville 220 $62,210
Wilmington 100 $57,150
Goldsboro 80 $52,020
Burlington 80 $55,470
New Bern 80 $58,560
Greenville 70 $52,620
Rocky Mount 70 $58,120
Jacksonville 70 $60,340
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 70 $62,430
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 2620 $65,490
Elyria 2180 $60,040
Cleveland 2180 $60,040
Dayton 1890 $75,480
Akron 760 $60,790
Toledo 510 $49,960
Canton 260 $51,260
Massillon 260 $51,260
Springfield 100 $36,830
Mansfield 80 $60,820
Lima 70 $63,030
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 1650 $61,660
Tulsa 980 $54,570
Lawton 50 $60,510
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salem 320 $61,060
Eugene 200 $47,430
Medford 110 $51,070
Albany 70 $46,090
Redmond 70 $55,520
Bend 70 $55,520
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 2780 $58,470
Harrisburg 780 $59,290
Carlisle 780 $59,290
Hanover 550 $60,370
York 550 $60,370
Lancaster 440 $53,880
Scranton 370 $52,240
Barre 370 $52,240
Wilkes 370 $52,240
Hazleton 370 $52,240
Reading 360 $54,730
Erie 330 $54,360
Chambersburg 210 $52,500
Waynesboro 210 $52,500
Berwick 120 $48,610
Bloomsburg 120 $48,610
Lebanon 120 $54,270
State College 120 $61,360
East Stroudsburg 110 $58,010
Williamsport 100 $51,880
Altoona 100 $53,240
Johnstown 90 $48,850
Gettysburg 40 $53,380
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Carolina 1430 $31,180
San Juan 1430 $31,180
Caguas 1430 $31,180
Aguadilla 310 $43,190
Isabela 310 $43,190
Ponce 110 $30,290
Arecibo 60 $36,440
Mayag�ez 40 $21,250
Guayama 30 $45,440
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbia 680 $47,860
Anderson 630 $61,000
Mauldin 630 $61,000
Greenville 630 $61,000
North Charleston 630 $62,470
Charleston 630 $62,470
Florence 180 $55,400
Spartanburg 150 $57,470
Bluffton 50 $58,590
Beaufort 50 $58,590
Hilton Head Island 50 $58,590
Sumter 40 $62,460
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 270 $51,570
Rapid City 110 $58,560
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 1070 $53,570
Davidson 1070 $53,570
Murfreesboro 1070 $53,570
Nashville 1070 $53,570
Knoxville 370 $53,550
Johnson City 80 $39,760
Jackson 60 $45,770
Cleveland 50 $55,740
Morristown 40 $40,560
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
The Woodlands 8990 $68,710
Houston 8990 $68,710
Sugar Land 8990 $68,710
Arlington 7480 $61,920
Dallas 7480 $61,920
Fort Worth 7480 $61,920
San Antonio 2590 $69,740
New Braunfels 2590 $69,740
Austin 1980 $58,490
Round Rock 1980 $58,490
El Paso 470 $51,100
Corpus Christi 380 $55,190
Killeen 300 $64,430
Temple 300 $64,430
Port Arthur 300 $64,440
Beaumont 300 $64,440
Waco 220 $54,430
Amarillo 220 $56,980
Mission 210 $44,680
McAllen 210 $44,680
Edinburg 210 $44,680
Bryan 200 $49,980
College Station 200 $49,980
Odessa 200 $63,630
Midland 200 $70,390
Lubbock 190 $43,460
Longview 190 $54,310
Harlingen 150 $48,130
Brownsville 150 $48,130
Tyler 120 $49,010
Wichita Falls 110 $46,220
Laredo 100 $40,920
Abilene 80 $57,750
Denison 70 $58,780
Sherman 70 $58,780
Victoria 70 $62,210
San Angelo 50 $42,070
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 1180 $59,560
Clearfield 870 $74,120
Ogden 870 $74,120
Provo 250 $55,320
Orem 250 $55,320
St. George 50 $41,300
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 240 $59,050
Burlington 240 $59,050
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 2360 $67,700
Roanoke 290 $45,970
Charlottesville 200 $59,160
Lynchburg 160 $54,620
Radford 140 $58,090
Christiansburg 140 $58,090
Blacksburg 140 $58,090
Waynesboro 110 $46,820
Staunton 110 $46,820
Harrisonburg 100 $49,240
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 7820 $71,200
Tacoma 7820 $71,200
Seattle 7820 $71,200
Spokane Valley 590 $51,220
Spokane 590 $51,220
Kennewick 440 $74,440
Richland 440 $74,440
Bremerton 250 $74,900
Silverdale 250 $74,900
Olympia 220 $56,530
Tumwater 220 $56,530
Bellingham 130 $49,210
Yakima 110 $51,020
Wenatchee 90 $49,310
Longview 80 $54,690
Anacortes 80 $55,880
Mount Vernon 80 $55,880
Walla Walla 60 $60,530
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Vienna 100 $62,470
Parkersburg 100 $62,470
Charleston 80 $48,820
Morgantown 50 $73,480
Beckley 40 $56,210
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waukesha 2340 $56,530
West Allis 2340 $56,530
Milwaukee 2340 $56,530
Madison 850 $57,420
Green Bay 470 $54,400
Oshkosh 290 $51,780
Neenah 290 $51,780
Appleton 260 $52,380
Eau Claire 170 $46,170
Racine 170 $53,040
Wausau 160 $50,010
Sheboygan 160 $58,930
Beloit 150 $58,970
Janesville 150 $58,970
Fond du Lac 130 $61,290
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cheyenne 90 $56,380
Casper 60 $53,780

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Purchasing Agents

To find out more about building a career as Purchasing Agents, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Purchasing Agents

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Government 44,090 15% $64,730
Professional And Technical Services 24,300 8% $59,450
Automotive And Vehicle Manufacturing 19,810 6% $59,010
Electronics And Computer 19,100 6% $57,350
Business Management 16,730 5% $58,420
Machinery 14,020 4% $49,650
Durable Goods Wholesale 12,710 4% $49,350
Metal Products 11,320 3% $48,960
Hospital 8,290 2% $44,650
Construction Trades 7,670 2% $47,630
Office Services And Staffing 7,630 2% $49,640
Education 6,480 2% $49,240
Chemicals 6,370 2% $55,220
Construction 6,340 2% $51,540
Miscellaneous Manufacturing 4,930 1% $51,150
Electrical Appliance 4,490 1% $50,930
Telecommunications 4,480 1% $64,390
Plastics And Rubber 3,990 1% $47,590
Utilities 3,450 1% $61,700
Food 3,220 1% $50,910
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CityTownInfo Career and College Resources

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Purchasing Agents.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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