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Occupational Profile

Purchasing Agent

Purchasing agents buy goods, materials, supplies and services and ensure that they are of the quantity, quality, price and availability required by their organization.

  • Avg. Salary $90,692.00
  • Avg. Wage $44.12
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook Down
  • Employed 11,400
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Buyer, Industrial Buyer, Logistics Manager, Supply Chain Management Professional, Supply Technician

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

36%
36%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Regulated
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
NOC & Interest Codes
The Purchasing Agent is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Purchasing Agents and Officers
NOC code: 1225
METHODICAL

Interest in compiling information to establish delivery schedules and to monitor progress

DIRECTIVE

Interest in negotiating or determining contract terms and conditions and in awarding supplier contracts or recommending contract awards; may hire, train and supervise purchasing clerks

social

Interest in contacting clients and suppliers to resolve problems

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Duties and responsibilities vary from one position to another but, in general, purchasing agents:

  • consult with other departments in the organization to determine goods (for example, equipment, office supplies) and services requirements
  • develop strategic purchasing programs that consolidate company spending for specific commodities
  • oversee the process of issuing requests for information and proposals, and tendering contracts to ensure that the process is fair, competitive, legal and provides best value for the organization
  • analyze proposals or tenders
  • purchase the right quality and quantity, at the right time and price, from the best possible source
  • administer contracts for the supply of goods, services and space
  • trace shipments, follow up undelivered goods, and resolve problems and disputes
  • arrange the payment of duty and freight charges
  • prepare and administer budgets and contracts.

In smaller organizations, purchasing agents may be directly involved in purchasing and expediting the delivery of goods. Depending on the urgency and value of the required products, orders may be submitted electronically or by telephone or facsimile. Purchasing agents usually ask suppliers for quotations in writing or call for public tenders, sometimes using local newspapers or the Internet to advertise. The basic criterion in awarding a tender is to obtain the maximum value for the money spent as well as satisfy all specifications and requests. Errors can be very costly to the organization.

In larger organizations, experienced purchasing agents may:

  • supervise buyers, purchasing clerks or expediters who schedule shipments from suppliers and ensure deliveries are made on time and according to contracts
  • develop negotiation strategies and lead teams in supplier negotiations for goods or services
  • implement processes that facilitate employee access to goods and services, and reduce administrative costs
  • analyze commodity vendor data and forecast trends
  • recommend and implement approved purchasing policies and procedures
  • develop and implement supplier performance management strategies
  • administer purchasing card programs.

To keep up to date so they can make informed decisions, purchasing agents:

  • use the Internet and read promotional literature such as catalogues and trade journals
  • consult legal and risk management personnel
  • network with people in other purchasing departments
  • inspect samples submitted by suppliers
  • attend trade shows, conventions and seminars
  • write and review product specifications
  • negotiate with suppliers' representatives and end users.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Purchasing agents work in an office environment. Travel, meeting deadlines or taking inventory may require working long or irregular hours.

  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Purchasing agents need the following characteristics:

  • good oral and written communication skills
  • good organizational skills
  • good negotiation skills and the ability to work with many different people
  • the ability to analyze purchasing options and make purchasing decisions involving large sums of money
  • the ability to work independently or as part of a team
  • a good memory for details
  • the ability to adapt to a changing environment.

They should enjoy taking a methodical approach to compiling information, being responsible for projects and the work of others, and negotiating with people.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 14, 2016

There are a variety of ways to become a purchasing agent. In the past, high school graduates have started in entry level positions such as purchasing clerk, expediter or junior buyer, or working in departments where stock is processed (for example, stores or shipping and receiving). However, most employers prefer to hire applicants who have post-secondary education in business administration or commerce, supply chain management or economics, particularly for positions that involve cost analysis, legal issues and contract administration.

Some industries prefer to hire purchasing agents who have related background knowledge. For example, a chemical company might require purchasing agents in the company to have a diploma or degree in chemistry.

A number of employers provide training on the job for newly hired purchasing agents. Computer skills and familiarity with commonly used word processing, spreadsheet and database programs, and other technology used in e-commerce and for ordering is a definite asset.

Courses in purchasing, buying and finance are offered by the Extension or Continuing Education divisions of universities, colleges and technical institutes and are definite assets for advancement. Individuals who have a university degree or college or technical institute diploma with courses in business administration or commerce may be able to start at a higher level and advance more quickly.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Robertson College - Calgary NW

Robertson College - Edmonton

University of Alberta

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Supply Chain Management Professional

Supply chain management professionals buy goods, materials, supplies and services as required by their organization.

Legislation

Supply Chain Management Professional is a protected title under Alberta's Professional and Occupational Associations Registration Act. This means that to call yourself a Supply Chain Management Professional, you must be a registered member of the Supply Chain Management Association Alberta (SCMA Alberta). You can be a member of the SCMA Alberta but do not have to be registered if you do not call yourself a Supply Chain Management Professional.

Education

Registration as a Supply Chain Management Professional requires successful completion of the approved accreditation program and certification examination.  For detailed information about registration requirements, visit the SCMA Alberta website or contact SCMA Alberta.

Working in Alberta

Supply chain management professionals who are certified by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for certification in Alberta if certified supply chain management professionals in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated supply chain management professionals, see Supply Chain Management Professional Certification Process on the AlbertaCanada.com website.

Contact Details

Supply Chain Management Association Alberta
Sterling Business Centre
Suite 115, 17420 Stony Plain Road
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada  T5S 1K6
Phone number: 780-944-0355
Toll-free phone number: 1-866-610-4089
Fax number: 780-944-0356
Website: www.scmaab.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Purchasing agents are employed by any organization where large sums of money are spent for equipment, supplies and services such as:

  • federal, provincial and municipal governments
  • construction and manufacturing companies
  • school boards
  • regional health authorities
  • post-secondary institutions 
  • large business firms.

A typical advancement path might be from a clerical position to buyer and purchasing agent positions. With experience, purchasing agents may advance to management positions or move into related areas such as materials management, inventory management, traffic or transportation, quality control or finance.

Purchasing agents are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 1225: Purchasing Agents and Officers. In Alberta, 78% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 11,400 Albertans are employed in the Purchasing agents and officers occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.2% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 137 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As purchasing agents form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for purchasing agents.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Salaries for purchasing agents vary greatly depending on the size and nature of the organization, the responsibilities of the position and the agent's qualifications.

Purchasing agents and officers
NOC code: 1225

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $19.86 $57.00 $35.50 $30.97
Overall $26.00 $61.74 $44.12 $43.89
Top $28.43 $87.55 $57.08 $55.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Oil & Gas Extraction
Transportation and Warehousing
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Construction
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Public Administration
Educational Services
Manufacturing
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Health Care & Social Assistance
Wholesale Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

36%
36%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

14%
14%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

1%
1%

2015 Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Financial Management
    • Information Processing
    • Management and Marketing
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Business, Management and Administrative Studies
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 14, 2016

National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) website: www.nigp.org

Supply Chain Management Association Alberta website: www.scmaab.ca

Supply Chain Management Association National Conference website: www.smanational.ca

 

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 13, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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