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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. They also assess supply chains for risk and anticipate or compensate for any expected supply shortfalls.

Also Known As

Buyer, Industrial Buyer, Procurement Specialist, Purchaser, 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

  • 1225: Purchasing Agents and Officers

2006 NOC-S

  • B315: Purchasing Agents and Officers

2011 NOC

  • 1225: Purchasing agents and officers

2016 NOC

  • 1225: Purchasing agents and officers

2021 NOC

  • 12102: Procurement and purchasing agents and officers

2023 OaSIS

  • 12102.00: Procurement and purchasing agents and officers
Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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 requests for proposals
  • Tender contracts to ensure the purchasing process is fair, competitive, and legal and provides the best value
  • Review proposals or tenders, and clarify to ensure compliance with the tender specs
  • Purchase the right quality and quantity at the right time and price from the best possible sources
  • Oversee budgets and purchase orders, material order requisitions (MORs), or contracts for the supply of goods, services, and space
  • Trace shipments, follow up on unreceived goods, and resolve problems and disputes
  • Participate in supplier audits, where necessary
  • Arrange to pay duty and freight charges
  • Identify potential risks to orders against inventory or schedule needs
  • Review receiving and invoice documents, and resolve discrepancies
  • Provide schedule and inventory status updates to stakeholders

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.

In larger organizations, experienced purchasing agents may:

  • Supervise buyers, purchasing clerks, or expediters (people 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 usage, and forecast trends
  • Recommend and roll out approved purchasing policies and procedures
  • Develop and introduce strategies to manage supplier performance
  • Oversee purchasing card (P-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 other training opportunities
  • 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 Mar 31, 2024
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary

Purchasing agents work in offices. They may work long or varied hours because of travel, deadlines, or taking inventory. Much of their work can be done as hybrid or remote work.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Purchasing Agents and Officers

2006 NOC: 1225

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Purchasing agents need:

  • Communication skills (spoken and written)
  • Organizational skills
  • 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
  • Attention to detail
  • Memorization skills
  • Adaptability

They should enjoy:

  • Working methodically
  • Compiling information
  • Being responsible for projects and the work of others
  • Negotiating with people

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Purchasing agents and officers

2016 NOC: 1225

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 106 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Feb 27, 2023 and May 24, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Purchase general and specialized equipment, materials or business services
Tasks: Review quotations
Tasks: Consult with suppliers
Tasks: Establish delivery schedules
Tasks: Contact clients and suppliers to resolve problems
Tasks: Determine contract terms and conditions
Tasks: Monitor progress of delivery schedules
Tasks: Assess requirements of establishment
Tasks: Develop specifications for equipment, materials and supplies to be purchased
Attention to detail
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education Varies

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, engineering, or economics. This is most true when agents need 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 North
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
MCG Career College - Calgary
MCG Career College - Cold Lake
MCG Career College - Red Deer
Professional Institute of Management & Technology
Reeves College - Calgary City Centre
Reeves College - Calgary North
Reeves College - Edmonton
Reeves College - Edmonton North
Reeves College - Lloydminster
Robertson College - Calgary

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
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.

 

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Supply Chain Management Professional

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

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Professional and Occupational Associations Registration Act [pdf] and Supply Chain Management Association Alberta Regulation [pdf], you must register with the Supply Chain Canada, Alberta Institute to use the protected title Supply Chain Management Professional (SCMP).

You do not have to register if you do not call yourself a Supply Chain Management Professional.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Supply Chain Management Professional.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 1225: Purchasing agents and officers occupational group, 77.6% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 1225: Purchasing agents and officers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 2.3% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 257 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Purchasing agents and officers

2016 NOC: 1225
Average Wage
$44.05
Per Hour
Average Salary
$87,546.00
Per Year
Average Hours
38.3
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 1225 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $20.00 $59.51 $34.84 $31.74
Overall $25.00 $79.18 $44.05 $38.75
Top $26.87 $111.90 $53.24 $47.60

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

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

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
20%
20%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
18%
18%
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 Mar 31, 2024

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

Supply Chain Management Association website: www.supplychaincanada.com/ab

Universal Public Procurement Certification Council website: uppcc.org

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2024. 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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