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Purchasing Agent Career

Considering a career as a Purchasing Agent? Find out all you need to know to decide whether this career is right for you.

What does a Purchasing Agent do?

The role of a Purchasing Agent is to keep an organization's inventory of either raw materials, finished goods or necessary services at a satisfactory level to maintain business operations at the least possible cost to the company.

Individual duties of a Purchasing Agent will vary greatly depending on the industry as well as amount of experience a Purchasing Agent has. However, one concept all Purchasing Agents embody in their work is a thorough understanding of their employing organizations' business practices.

In manufacturing, a Purchasing Agent must be familiar with the material needs of all products, timelines for distribution and often must have an understanding of potential markets in order to aid in an organization's future plans. In addition to knowing one's own industry, many Purchasing Agents must know their supplier's industry in order to assess the suppliers ability to meet the needs of their organization.

The job of a Purchasing Agent can be extremely complex. In order to use a wealth of information for an organization's benefit, a Purchasing Agent must have very strong organizational and analytical skills. As demanidng as the job may be, the skills learned on the job are highly valuable in any future career.

Many Purchasing Agent careers are steps to higher paid positions with greater responsibility. While performing their job, Purchasing Agents are constantly becoming better, well-informed specialists in their industry. The next step up can be a Purchasing Manager where one might have a hand in product development or marketing. At this point a Purchasing Professional could be in charge of assessing foreign suppliers where supplier assessments may be more difficult (e.g. Chinese made products where standards may be lower than those in the United States).

How to Become a Purchasing Agent?

Educational requirements may vary slightly depending on the company, the area you wish to work and your previous work experience.

For most Purchasing Agent careers, the minimum educational requirement is the completion of a Bachelor's degree. However, there are some organizations who hire individuals with an Associate's degree in Accounting. This usually occurs in smaller organizations where Purchasing Agent candidates have worked in the industry for many years.

However, if you are interested in advancing your career as quickly as possible, then you may wish to earn an advanced degree such as an MBA with an emphasis in Accounting.

Beyond a quality education and the development of skills necessary to succeed as a Purchasing Agent, you will need to learn where to gain experience by finding career opportunities.

You will find some career opportunities on Purchasing Agent Career portals such as the American Purchasing Society (although you must become a member to use their services); however, you will probably have quicker results if you contact a local recruiter or begin contacting hiring firms directly. You may also find Purchasing Agent openings under newspaper or online classifieds (Craigslist or Monster.com).

What is a Purchasing Agent's Salary?

As a Purchasing Agent, your salary can vary significantly depending on your level of experience, your level of acquired education and size of the company you work for.

The median salary* for a Purchasing Agent is $50,700.

The top 10% of Purchasing Agents are pulling in an average of $83,900.

However, for highly educated and motivated individuals reaching the level of a Purchasing Manager, the median salary* is $81,600 and the top 10% of Purchasing Managers are pulling in over $132,000.

In order to boost yourself to this level of success, you will need to perform highly, develop years of experience at a respectable company and lastly, earn yourself an advanced degree.

Request information from some of the top online schools in the United States. Online schools are becoming more popular for the working professional and are already highly respected in the business arena.

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* Source: The Bureau of Labor and Statistics for 2006

How does the future look for a Purchasing Agent?

The job growth for all types of Purchasing Agents is projected by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics to fall slightly short of average job growth in the United States. Many reasons account for the shortage of projected future job openings. One reason being that many businesses are leaning toward outsourcing their purchasing duties to companies who specialize in assessing and dealing with suppliers.

As businesses seek to make their operations more efficient, outsourcing purchasing duties will become more prevalent since many businesses do not have the resources to educate their Purchasing Agents in the complexities of the business. However, this does not mean the career is drifting away. In fact, the opposite is true. The best Purchasing Agents will be highly sought after and rewarded greatly.

The future still looks bright for the Purchasing Agent profession, so go ahead and get started!

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