Purchasing Agent Certification and Career Facts

Purchasing agents play an essential role in the distribution and sales process for goods and services. Read on to learn about education and certification options, as well as salary and job outlook info. Schools offering Procurement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Purchasing agents procure goods and services for manufacturers, wholesale or retail establishments. They are trained to acknowledge market trends, distribution variables and budgeting concerns. They maintain inventory and develop strategies based on sales trends and consumer needs.

Certification May be required or voluntary, depending on the job; the Certified Professional Public Buyer and Certified Public Purchasing Officer credentials are available for government workers; certification is also available for private sector employers
Degrees Bachelor's and master's degrees
Courses Purchasing, budgeting, management, supplier contracting, negotiating strategies, legal aspects of contracts, price and cost analysis
Median Salary (2017)* $66,610 (purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* -3% decline (purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Level of Education Do I Need?

Most purchasing agents receive a bachelor's degree in business from an accredited school, but experience in sales management, inventory control and ordering may also be beneficial. Your bachelor's degree in business can introduce you to the types of issues purchasing agents are typically confronted with. Many business programs can be tailored to your specific career goals and could lead to certification after graduation. A master's degree is typically required for advancement in the field to the level of a purchasing manager. Distance learning opportunities, both in entirely online and hybrid formats, are available for business students at the bachelor's and master's degree levels.

What Courses Will I Take?

The following courses can provide you with some of the framework for a career in purchasing:

  • Procurement pricing analysis
  • Contract administration
  • Financial accounting
  • Multinational management
  • Management
  • Budgeting

What Are My Certification Options?

Certification is not a common requirement for professional purchasing agents working the private sector, though some employers may require it. Government agencies may prefer to hire certified employees, and applicants for these positions can pursue either the Certified Professional Public Buyer or Certified Public Purchasing Officer designation, which are both offered by the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council.

Purchasing agents can also seek certification through the American Purchasing Society and the Association for Supply Chain Management. The Senior Professional in Supply Chain Management credential is offered by Next Level Purchasing Association. All certifications require education and business experience. In some cases, additional business experience as a buyer or purchasing clerk can substitute for the lack of a degree. In such instances, evidence of specific coursework may be required.

What Careers Will I Be Qualified For?

With a certificate in purchasing management, you can work in purchasing and supply chain management and as a buyer or procurement specialist. After gaining at least five years of experience as a purchasing agent or buyer, you may consider positions with transferable skill requirements, such as logistics, planning, marketing, and production.

What Is The Outlook For This Career?

According to the BLS, the median annual salary of purchasing agents was $66,610 as of May 2017. The BLS reports that employment for purchasing agents will decline by 3% from 2016-2026 due to an increased ease of access to markets for small stores and consumers. However, the BLS specified that there will likely be more job opportunities for individuals interested in purchasing agent jobs than for those interested in becoming a purchasing manager due to the sheer volume of positions in the job market.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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