What Does a Purchasing Agent Do?

A purchasing agent is an important part of an organization’s ability to ensure that they have all of the most essential tools required to operate on a daily basis. No matter how competent and driven the team itself may be, there will always be a certain pool of materials that are necessary for ensuring that the company is in the best possible position to deliver their services up to standard; with a reliable purchasing agent in place, companies are far less likely to be caught off-guard by a sudden crippling deficit in these materials.

Industry placement

Because different companies naturally need different kinds of materials to perform their distinct services, different purchasing managers may be well-versed in a wide variety of different industries and the quality of materials that are uniquely vital to their exact kinds of operations and needs.

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Some purchasing managers may be tasked with securing materials of agricultural businesses while others might be tasked with overseeing the provision of retail or office supplies. About a quarter of purchasing agents work in the manufacturing industry.

In-depth research

No matter what industry it may be that the purchasing manager serves, however, they will be best able to perform their job if they consistently stay up to date with the latest news in their industry regarding pricing and marketing statistics.

The purchasing agent’s most frequent tasks will often include conducting accurate research to consistently determine what the most cost-effective and reliable materials there are for the company to invest in. Ideally, the purchasing manager should be able to indicate materials that strike an effective balance between affordability and efficiency, sparing the organization unnecessary expenses without losing necessary quality in the process.

Skill sets and requirements

The requirements for an aspiring purchasing manager to be considered eligible for the job do not necessitate a bachelor’s degree at the entry level, though some employers may still prefer to see some proof of higher education before taking one on for the job. In some cases, the most likely candidates to fill a purchasing agent position may in fact be those who have gone as far as acquiring a master’s degree.

Whatever the level of education may be that a purchasing manager candidate has, it will generally always be preferred that they have received a particularly focused level of education for proficiency in spreadsheet management, document organization, computer operation, team communication, and applied mathematics.

The level of focus on any particular academic subject will vary depending on the employer in question, but for the best chance at being considered the best choice for the job, aspiring purchasing applicants will be well-advised to have a well-rounded skill set and collegiate credits in all of the aforementioned areas of study.

To have an even better chance at standing out among other applicants, aspiring purchasing agents have the option of getting certified by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) or the American Purchasing Society.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the approximate median salary for purchasing agents is just over $60,000 a year. Naturally, the level of pay that purchasing agents receive will vary depending on their particular level of experience and the welfare of the organizations that they provide their services to. The Bureau reports that the anticipated growth in job availability for purchasing agents by the year 2020 is approximately 2 percent.