How to Become a Purchasing Agent

Purchasing Agent Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $69,330
Avg. Pay / hour $33.33
Education 3-4 Years
Job Outlook -6%

Purchasing Agents are professionals that typically work in the manufacturing and wholesale trade industries.

They are responsible for purchasing a variety of products for their company to use or resell.

They are the individuals who are responsible for stocking retails stores with merchandise for sale to the public.

Individuals who want to become a Purchasing Agent will need the ability to negotiate to help reduce price, have analytical skills that help them determine the kind of inventory their store needs and have strong mathematical skills to help them compare prices from different suppliers.

Education Requirements to Become a Purchasing Agent

Individuals who want to become a Purchasing Agent can expect different educational requirements depending on the company they are seeking work in.

Larger organizations typically seek individuals who have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree while smaller organizations seek candidates with a minimum of a high school diploma and who is willing to receive on the job training.

However, all individuals are encouraged to have basic mathematical skills since basic math is used on a regular basis to perform the duties for this profession.

In addition, individuals are encouraged to seek a license which creates stronger job prospects.

Individuals pursuing an undergraduate degree are encouraged to strengthen their mathematical skills that will help them become a Purchasing Agent.

Organizations seeking candidates with a degree will look for individuals who have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in engineering, economics, business or one of the applied sciences.

Purchasing Agent Job Description

Purchasing Agents are individuals who are experienced in purchasing a variety of products and merchandise on behalf of their client or organizations from wholesale providers.

The merchandise and products will then be resold directly to consumers.

In order to benefit the client and lower costs, Purchasing Agents will need to compare suppliers and their prices, ensure that the products they purchase are of high quality and negotiate prices and contracts with the suppliers.

Purchasing Agents will research suppliers and look at a variety of things in order to choose one.

They will look at price, delivery speed and quality in order to make a decision on a supplier.

They will also interview suppliers, visit their distribution centers and review the type of services and products they hold.

Purchasing Agents will attend trade shows, conferences and meetings to learn about new suppliers.

Attending these types of events will help these professionals learn industry trends, new products and make new contacts with other suppliers.

Purchasing Agents will receive proposals and analyze them to compare costs and negotiate contracts to receive the best price.

After deciding on a supplier, Purchasing Agents will work on creating an agreement with a supplier which includes delivery dates and quantities.

They will monitor the delivery of goods to determine whether the specifics of the contract are being met and communicate with suppliers in case there are any defective items or if the products were not delivered on time.

Purchasing Agent Salary and Career Path

In 2012, the median annual salary for Purchasing Managers, Buyers and Purchasing Agents was approximately $60,550 per year.

Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including level of experience and the type of merchandise being managed.

For example, Purchasing Agents handling farm products can expect a median salary of approximately $55,720 per year while those handling other merchandise can expect a yearly salary of approximately $58,760.

The job outlook for Purchasing Managers, Buyers and Purchasing Agents is expected to grow by 4 percent through the year 2022, much slower when compared to other professions.

However, this projection takes into consideration the expected growth for all industries and professions; jobs for Purchasing Agents handling farm products are expected to increase by 6 percent while other Purchasing Agents can expect a 3 percent growth through this timeframe.

Exact will growth will eventually be affected by the strength of the economy and demand for consumer goods.

Individuals pursuing a career as a Purchasing Agent can expect to use a variety of skills in this trade including negotiating skills, working with people, using mathematics on a daily basis and assuring they get the best deals when purchasing merchandise for their employer or client.

A successful Purchasing Manager will also work on getting the best deals to help their organization lower their costs.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$105,030
New Hampshire$71,070
New Jersey$91,050
New Mexico$65,860
New York$79,160
North Carolina$66,740
North Dakota$66,760
Rhode Island$77,000
South Carolina$70,620
South Dakota$68,210
West Virginia$68,170
Puerto Rico$28,140
Virgin Islands$38,920

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $105,030.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $105,030
New Jersey - $91,050
Massachusetts - $83,390
Maryland - $83,280
Arkansas - $82,340
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Buyers and Purchasing Agents, OCC Code 13-1020, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a purchasing agent do?

A purchasing agent is responsible for buying services and products for different organizations that they will, later on, use and resell.

Purchasing agents should consider price, availability, quality, reliability, and technical support while choosing merchandise and suppliers.

They also review the quality of products, evaluate suppliers, and negotiate contracts.

The typical responsibilities of a purchasing agent would also include conducting research to determine what the most suitable materials available on the market are; staying up-to-date with the latest news about the industry; overseeing the provision of supplies, and so on.

In a nutshell, a purchasing agent is there to make sure that the organization has all of the required tools to operate on a daily basis.

How much do purchasing agents make?

On average, a purchasing agent can make a little more than $49.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $36.000 and $69.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location, and so on.

An entry-level purchasing agent can earn around $13 per hour, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $25 and more per hour.

How much does it cost to become a purchasing agent?

In most cases, you would need a bachelor’s degree in finance, business, supply management or a related field in order to become a purchasing agent at a large organization.

However, some entry-level positions might require you to have only a high school diploma.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (bear in mind that the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

You also can become a Certified Professional in Supply Management for around $230-$380.

What is the demand for purchasing agents?

Between 2016 and 2026, the purchasing agent job market is expected to decrease by 6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That certainly is slower than the average for all occupations in the United States.

This will happen due to the automation and outsourcing of jobs.

Bear in mind that the competition in the industry is extremely strong.

Promotion opportunities are more common in large corporations.

The candidates that possess plenty of experience in the industry will have better chances of getting the highest-paid job.

How long does it take to become a purchasing agent?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

You can consider seeking an internship during your last year in university to get that on-job experience as the majority of employers prefer the candidates to have at least a few years of experience.

On-the-job training usually lasts for over a year.

To qualify for your Certified Professional in Supply Management certification exam, you would need to have at least 3 years of professional full-time supply management experience (in case you have a bachelor’s degree).

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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