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Purchasing Agent

Purchasing agents buy goods, materials, supplies and services. They ensure these purchases meet their organization’s needs. To do this, they consider quantity, quality, availability and price.

  • Avg. Salary $83,265.00
  • Avg. Wage $41.68
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 12,000
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

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

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Purchasing Agents and Officers (1225) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Purchasing Agents and Officers (B315) 
  • 2011 NOC: Purchasing agents and officers (1225) 
  • 2016 NOC: Purchasing agents and officers (1225) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

28%
28%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
Interest Codes
The Purchasing Agent is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Purchasing Agents and Officers
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 vary but, in general, purchasing agents:

  • consult other departments to see what goods and services they need
  • develop buying programs that streamline company spending for specific commodities
  • oversee the issuing of requests for information and proposals
  • tender contracts to ensure the purchasing process is fair, competitive, legal and provides the best value
  • review proposals or tenders
  • purchase the right quality and quantity at the right time and price from the best possible sources
  • oversee budgets and contracts for the supply of goods, services and space
  • trace shipments, follow up on unreceived goods, and resolve problems and disputes
  • arrange to pay duty and freight charges.

In smaller companies, they may be directly involved in buying goods and speeding up delivery. Depending on the urgency and value of the required products, orders may be placed by computer, phone or fax. Agents usually ask for written quotes or call for public tenders. They sometimes advertise in local newspapers or on the internet. Their goal is to get the best value while meeting all specified needs and requests. Errors can cost a company a great deal.

In larger organizations, experienced purchasing agents may:

  • supervise buyers, purchasing clerks or expediters (who make sure deliveries are on time and according to contracts)
  • develop strategies and lead teams in negotiating with suppliers for goods or services
  • create processes so employee access to goods and services is easy, and does not increase admin costs
  • study vendor data (commodity) and forecast trends
  • recommend and roll out approved purchasing policies and procedures
  • develop and introduce strategies to manage supplier performance
  • oversee purchasing card programs.

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

  • use the internet and read promotional material (such as catalogues and trade journals)
  • attend trade shows, seminars, webinars and training
  • consult legal and risk-management personnel
  • network with people in other purchasing departments
  • inspect supplier samples
  • write and review product specs
  • negotiate with suppliers’ reps and end users.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Purchasing agents work in offices. They may work long or varied hours because of travel, deadlines or taking inventory.

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

Purchasing agents need to possess:

  • good speaking and writing skills
  • good organizational skills
  • good negotiation skills
  • the ability to work with different kinds of people
  • the ability to study purchasing options and make decisions involving large sums of money
  • the ability to work on their own or as part of a team
  • a good memory for details
  • the ability to adapt to change.

They should enjoy:

  • taking a step-by-step approach to compiling information
  • being responsible for projects
  • being responsible for the work of others
  • negotiating with people.
Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 14, 2016

There are several ways to become a purchasing agent. Most employers prefer applicants who have a degree or diploma in business administration or commerce, supply chain management, or economics. This is most true when agents have to analyze costs, understand legal issues, and administer contracts.

Some industries prefer candidates who have related background knowledge. For example, a chemical company might hire an agent with a diploma or degree in chemistry.

Some employers provide training on the job for newly hired purchasing agents.

Computer skills are an asset. For example, agents need to know how to use common word processing, spreadsheet and database software (and other technology used in e-commerce and for ordering).

Many universities, colleges and technical institutes offer courses in purchasing, buying and finance through their continuing education departments. These can help with advancement. Agents with a degree, diploma or courses in business administration or commerce may start at a higher level and move up quickly.


Related Education

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

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary South

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton City Centre

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton North

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton South

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton West

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Red Deer

Reeves College - Calgary City Centre

Reeves College - Calgary North

Reeves College - Edmonton

Robertson College - Calgary

Robertson College - Edmonton

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
Additional Information 

Purchasing agents who want to work for a government may want to join the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP, the Institute for Public Procurement).

Certification in public procurement is offered by the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC). UPPCC does not require registration, membership or any fees to maintain certification. Certification is voluntary and indicates an established level of knowledge. Certification lasts 5 years and can be maintained through continuing education.

As part of UPPCC, individuals must agree to the UPPCC code of ethics and professional conduct. UPPCC may revoke certification for ethical violations.

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 [pdf] and Supply Chain Management Association Alberta Regulation [pdf]. This means that to call yourself a Supply Chain Management Professional, you must be a registered member of the . You do not have to be registered if you do not call yourself a Supply Chain Management Professional.

What You Need

Registration as a Supply Chain Management Professional requires successful completion of the SCMP designation program or equivalent and certification examination. For detailed information about registration requirements, contact the Supply Chain Management Association Alberta (SCMA AB).

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 Alberta and the jurisdiction which the applicant originates have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory in Canada? and the Supply Chain Management Association Alberta (SCMA AB) website.

To learn about certification for internationally educated supply chain management professionals, see Supply Chain Management Professional Certification Process.

Contact Details

Supply Chain Management Association Alberta (SCMA AB)
115, 17420 Stony Plain Rd NW.
Edmonton, Alberta T5S 1K6
Canada

Call: 780-944-0355
Toll-free: 1-866-610-4089
Fax: 780-944-0356
Email: info@scmaab.ca
Website: scma.com/ab

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Purchasing agents work in any company where large sums of money are spent for equipment, supplies and services. Examples include:

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

Often purchasing agents start as clerks or buyers. With experience, they may advance to management 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 [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

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

In Alberta, the B315: Purchasing Agents and Officers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.2% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 137 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 14, 2016

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

Purchasing agents and officers

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 $18.00 $54.57 $33.29 $30.62
Overall $21.54 $73.60 $41.68 $39.74
Top $24.04 $114.36 $49.91 $44.23

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.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Oil & Gas Extraction
Transportation and Warehousing
ALL INDUSTRIES
Public Administration
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Construction
Manufacturing
Business, Building and Other Support Services
Educational Services
Health Care & Social Assistance
Wholesale Trade
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

28%
28%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

16%
16%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

1%
1%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
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 website: scma.com

Universal Public Procurement Certification Council website: www.uppcc.org

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 19, 2018. 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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