Purchasing Agent Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Purchasing Agent, or Product Purchasing Agent, finds and purchases products for a company to use or resell. Their duties include locating suppliers, researching goods, services and materials and processing purchasing orders.


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Purchasing Agent duties and responsibilities

Purchasing Agents work and negotiate with suppliers to purchase goods and services for the company they represent. This role may have the following duties and responsibilities: 

  • Evaluating suppliers by considering price, quality, availability and other criteria 
  • Interviewing vendors and visiting suppliers’ facilities to learn about products, services and pricing
  • Negotiating contracts with vendors and suppliers to obtain the best deals on behalf of the company
  • Verifying purchases by comparing them to a master list and recommending alternatives for expensive or irrelevant products
  • Interacting with suppliers to schedule delivery times and resolve shipping errors
  • Authorizing payments and maintain receipts, records and inventories
  • Attend industry trade shows to learn about and stay current on trends and to meet suppliers


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What does a Purchasing Agent do?

Purchasing Agents are employed by organizations to locate potential products or materials for them to resell or to enhance their daily operations. They’ll typically spend time conducting extensive research on the best suppliers, services, goods, vendors and manufacturers to purchase from. Purchasing Agents will then use this research to find and maintain suppliers who are reliable, cost-efficient and produce quality products. 

They’ll regularly monitor the organization’s inventory levels to help them understand their purchasing needs and schedule orders. Purchasing Agents typically work closely with suppliers and vendors to review cost proposals and negotiate prices and contracts. Once they’ve ordered products, Purchasing Agents are responsible for keeping and filing records of these purchase orders, contracts, receipts and transactions.


Purchasing Agent skills and qualifications

A Purchasing Agent should have the following skills and qualifications to be effective on the job: 

  • Negotiation skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Judgment and decision-making skills
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills


Purchasing Agent salary expectations

A Purchasing Agent earns an average of $49,865 per year. Salary may depend on the level of experience, education and geographical location. Some Purchasing Agents can earn an average of $10,000 per year through commissions.


Purchasing Agent education and training requirements

Education requirements for Purchasing Agents vary widely depending on location and organization. Although some employers accept high school diplomas and GEDs, most prefer a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting or a related field. Those entering the manufacturing industry often need a bachelor’s and even a master’s degree in engineering. In this circumstance, preference usually goes to those with advanced knowledge within the subject area. Further advancement in the field requires certification from the American Purchasing Society or a related entity.


Purchasing Agent experience requirements

Purchase Agents usually have around 2 to 3 years of experience as an entry-level Buyer before advancing to this position. Individuals earn their experience through internships, work study programs and entry-level positions. Industrial and manufacturing organizations provide plenty of internship opportunities for students. Moving on toward management positions sometimes requires 5 years of experience as a full-time Purchasing Agent. Some organizations may offer additional training as necessary for individuals fulfilling these roles.


Job description samples for similar positions

The role of a Purchasing Agent is versatile, but there are many similar positions. If this job description template isn’t what you’re looking for, see our job descriptions for these related positions:

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Frequently asked questions about Purchasing Agents


What are the different types of Purchasing Agents?

There are many different Purchasing Agents who work in a wide variety of fields and industries locating specific products and materials for their organizations. Farm Product Purchasing Agents will purchase agricultural materials, like cotton, tobacco or grain, to either process within their company or they’ll buy products to resell to others. 

Industrial Purchasing Agents visit various industrial sites to purchase their equipment to use in the company’s manufacturing warehouse. Others may act as more general Purchasing Agents who will purchase clothing items, electronics or other merchandise materials from companies to resell directly to consumers. 


What settings do Purchasing Agents typically work in?

A majority of a Purchasing Agent’s shift is spent in an office environment, researching potential vendors and suppliers and making calls to current ones. They’ll usually call or email suppliers directly from their desk to determine prices and gain more information on the materials they provide. When they’re ready to purchase a product, sign contracts or negotiate prices, the Purchasing Agent may travel to the supplier’s location of choice to conduct the meeting in person. 


Who does a Purchasing Agent report to?

Purchasing Agents typically report to a Purchasing Manager, who’s in charge of developing purchasing strategies and ensuring the purchasing team follows these plans accordingly. Purchasing Managers will typically conduct one-on-one sessions with Purchasing Agents to provide them with feedback on their work performance and to advise them on ways to improve themselves.

If Purchasing Agents are having challenges working with other employees or with suppliers, the Purchasing Manager will address and resolve the issue accordingly. 


What makes a good Purchasing Agent?

To be a successful Purchasing Agent, candidates should have impressive negotiation skills to obtain quality products that fit within the organization’s budget. They should be great communicators since they’re regularly meeting, collaborating and building relationships with suppliers and vendors. Strong Purchasing Agents must use their extensive financial knowledge to review budgets and financial data to ensure they make purchases that the company can afford.

Proficiency in software systems like inventory management systems is typically preferred in ideal candidates as they must regularly use these systems to input purchasing details. Organizational abilities are also important for the ideal candidate to have as they must store and manage several contracts, receipts and purchasing documents to quickly and efficiently retrieve later on. 

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