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Career Profile: Buyers and Purchasing Agents

Purchase machinery, equipment, tools, parts, supplies, or services necessary for the operation of an establishment. Purchase raw or semifinished materials for manufacturing. May negotiate contracts.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 439,000 people employed as buyers and purchasing agents in the United States. The median annual salary is $66,700. Entry level employees earn approximately $39,810 per year and senior employees earn approximately $112,170 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Hire, train, or supervise purchasing clerks, buyers, and expediters.
  • Maintain and review computerized or manual records of purchased items, costs, deliveries, product performance, and inventories.
  • Research and evaluate suppliers, based on price, quality, selection, service, support, availability, reliability, production and distribution capabilities, and the supplier's reputation and history.
  • Confer with staff, users, and vendors to discuss defective or unacceptable goods or services and determine corrective action.
  • Evaluate and monitor contract performance to ensure compliance with contractual obligations and to determine need for changes.
  • Monitor shipments to ensure that goods come in on time, and resolve problems related to undelivered goods.
  • Study sales records and inventory levels of current stock to develop strategic purchasing programs that facilitate employee access to supplies.
  • Write and review product specifications, maintaining a working technical knowledge of the goods or services to be purchased.
  • Review catalogs, industry periodicals, directories, trade journals, and Internet sites and consult with other department personnel to locate necessary goods and services.
  • Monitor changes affecting supply and demand, tracking market conditions, price trends, or futures markets.
  • Interview vendors and visit suppliers' plants and distribution centers to examine and learn about products, services, and prices.
  • Arrange the payment of duty and freight charges.
  • Attend meetings, trade shows, conferences, conventions, and seminars to network with people in other purchasing departments.
  • Monitor and follow applicable laws and regulations.
  • Prepare purchase orders, solicit bid proposals, and review requisitions for goods and services.
  • Negotiate, renegotiate, and administer contracts with suppliers, vendors, and other representatives.
  • Purchase the highest quality merchandise at the lowest possible price and in correct amounts.
  • Analyze price proposals, financial reports, and other data and information to determine reasonable prices.
  • Formulate policies and procedures for bid proposals and procurement of goods and services.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
439,000
Annual Openings:
39,500
Increase in Openings by 2030:
-5%
Annual Salary Range:
$39,810 - $112,170
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's degree