How to Be a Purchasing Agent

Purchasing agents are responsible for buying supplies, products, materials and services at the lowest possible price while maintaining a high level of quality. Purchasing agents must be skilled in assessing current market conditions as they directly affect supply and demand for services and products. Factors that are considered during the process include evaluating quality and reliability, price and availability in addition to customer service available after the purchase. The goal of a purchasing agent is to locate suppliers and to negotiate the best price without sacrificing quality for those goods and services needed by their organization. Here are some helpful tips and suggestions on how to become a purchasing agent.


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    Conduct some research on the Internet to explore the industry and to learn more about the type of work performed by a purchasing agent. This is an important initial step if you have no experience or training in the field.
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    Know that a general requirement to successfully enter the field and become a purchasing agent is to have a Bachelor's Degree. Many firms prefer that applicants have a Master's Degree. Some sectors or specializations require certification.
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    Think about your lifestyle and personal obligations when considering a career as a purchasing agent. The work environment often will include irregular hours and a tight schedule due to production requirements and meeting deadlines. Peak periods may extend the work load into evenings or weekends as well as holidays.
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    Understand that the work of a purchasing agent often includes travel to meet with potential suppliers to negotiate prices. Purchasing agents also attend conferences that entail long distance travel.
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    Evaluate your skills and abilities to assess if you have the aptitude to succeed as a purchasing agent. Work within this field requires strong communication skills and the ability to negotiate.
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    Consider your ability to analyze technical data and to perform financial analyses. You must have strong mathematical and computer skills in addition to understanding the work flow of supply-chain management.
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    Assess your level of business expertise, marketing and leadership skills. Purchasing agents must have solid organizational and decision making abilities.
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    Determine what type of training program that you want to enroll in after you complete your personal assessment of your skills and aptitudes. Decide if you want to study for a Bachelor's Degree or a Master's Degree.
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    Explore several degree programs at accredited colleges and universities that offer educational training in preparation for a career as a purchasing agent. If you are considering a specialization, make sure that it is offered at your chosen school.
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    Check the admission requirements for entrance into the degree programs that you are exploring. Some colleges and universities require that students take and successfully pass particular entrance examinations.
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    Make arrangements to go to several of the college campuses to meet with academic advisers to discuss their offerings for degree programs. Review the curriculum and degree requirements.
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    Apply to several colleges and universities that offer degree programs for training as a purchasing agent. Consider the reputation of the school as well as the tuition costs, financial aid and available scholarships.
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    Realize that some schools are more selective during the admission process. If you apply late and applications are no longer being accepted for the current term, submitting multiple applications to other colleges provides you with more options.
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    Consider registering with professional associations for those working as purchasing agents. You can do this at any time while exploring your career options to learn more about the industry as well as having the opportunity to network with those already working in the field as purchasing agents.

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Categories: Tradesman Occupations