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Occupation Profile for Procurement Clerks

Compile information and records to draw up purchase orders for procurement of materials and services.

 
 

Significant Points

  • About 23 percent of procurement clerks work for Federal, State, and local governments.
  • Overall employment is expected to experience little or no change as a result of increasing automation, offshoring, and restructuring of business.
  • High school graduates with good communication and computer skills should have the best job opportunities.

 

 
 
Overview
$33,100.00 Median Annual Wage 2,000 Average Job Openings Per Year
1.9 Average Unemployment Percentage 28.4 Percentage That Completed High School
78,000 Employment Numbers in 2006 47.8 Percentage That Had Some College
76,000 Employment Numbers in 2016 (est.) 23.8 Percentage That Went Beyond College Degree

Sample Job Titles
Buyer
Departmental Buyer
Film Replacement Orderer
Procurement Agent
Procurement Analyst
Procurement Assistant
Procurement Clerk
Procurement Officer
Procurement Specialist
Procurement Technician
Property and Supply Officer
Purchaser
Purchasing Agent
Purchasing Assistant
Purchasing Associate
Purchasing Clerk
Purchasing Coordinator
Purchasing Department Clerk
Purchasing Manager
Purchasing Specialist
Supply Coordinator
Warehouse Clerk

Training
  • These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include funeral directors, electricians, forest and conservation technicians, legal secretaries, interviewers, and insurance sales agents.
  • Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree. Some may require a bachelor's degree.
  • Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
  • Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers.

Most employers prefer applicants with a high school diploma or its equivalent. To advance to purchasing agent jobs, a bachelor’s degree is usually required and certification is helpful.

Education and training. Most employers prefer applicants who have a high school diploma or its equivalent or a mix of education and related experience. Most procurement clerks are trained on the job under close supervision of more experienced employees. Training usually lasts less than a few months.

Other qualifications. Employers prefer workers who are computer-literate and have a working knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet software. Proficiency with computer software is important because most tasks, such as preparing purchase orders, are performed electronically.

Certification and advancement. Some procurement clerks who obtain a bachelor’s degree and show a greater understanding of contracts and purchasing may be promoted to the position of purchasing agent or buyer. Useful fields of study include business, supply management, engineering, and economics.

Getting a certification may help procurement clerks demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to take on more advanced purchasing tasks. There are several recognized credentials for purchasing agents and purchasing managers. The Certified Purchasing Manager (CPM) designation is conferred by the Institute for Supply Management. In 2008, this certification will be replaced by the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) credential, covering the wider scope of duties now performed by purchasing professionals. The Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) and Certified Professional Purchasing Manager (CPPM) designations are conferred by the American Purchasing Society. The Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) and Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) credentials are conferred by APICS, also known as the Association for Operations Management. In Federal, State, and local government, the indications of professional competence are Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) and Certified Public Purchasing Officer (CPPO), conferred by the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing. Most of these certifications are awarded only after experience and education requirements are met and written or oral exams are successfully completed.

Nature of Work

Procurement clerks compile requests for materials, prepare purchase orders, keep track of purchases and supplies, and handle inquiries about orders. Usually called purchasing clerks or purchasing technicians, they perform a variety of tasks related to ordering goods and supplies for an organization. They make sure that what was purchased arrives on schedule and meets the purchaser’s specifications.

Automation is having a profound effect on this occupation. Orders for goods now can be placed electronically when supplies are low. However, automation is still years away for many firms, and the role of the procurement clerk is unchanged in many organizations.

Procurement clerks perform a wide range of tasks. Some clerks perform strictly clerical functions, but others, particularly at small or medium-sized companies, do more complex tasks. In general, procurement clerks process requests for purchases. They first determine whether there is any of the requested product left in inventory and may go through catalogs or to the Internet to find suppliers. They may prepare invitation-to-bid forms and mail them to suppliers or distribute them for public posting. Procurement clerks may interview potential suppliers by telephone or face-to-face to check on prices and specifications and then put together spreadsheets with price comparisons and other facts about each supplier. Upon the organization’s approval, clerks prepare and mail purchase orders and enter them into computers.

Procurement clerks keep track of orders and determine the causes of any delays. If the supplier has questions, clerks try to answer them and resolve any problems. When the shipment arrives, procurement clerks may reconcile the purchase order with the shipment, making sure that they match; notify the vendors when invoices are not received; and verify that the bills match the purchase orders.

Some purchasing departments, particularly in small companies, are responsible for overseeing the organization’s inventory control system. At these organizations, procurement clerks monitor in-house inventory movement and complete inventory transfer forms for bookkeeping purposes. They may keep inventory spreadsheets and place orders when materials on hand are insufficient.

Work environment. Procurement clerks usually work a standard 40-hour week. Most procurement clerks work in areas that are clean, well lit, and relatively quiet. These workers sit for long periods of time in front of computer terminals, which many cause eyestrain and headaches. Workers in this occupation may sometimes work overtime or on varied shifts.

Related Occupations

Sources: Career Guide to Industries (CGI), Occupational Information Network (O*Net), Occupation Outlook Handbook (OOH)
Earnings

Median hourly earnings of procurement clerks in May 2006 were $15.91. The middle 50 percent earned between $12.65 and $19.41. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.16 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $22.68. Procurement clerks working for the Federal Government had an average annual income of $41,716 in 2007.

For the latest wage information:

The above wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, unless otherwise noted. For the latest National, State, and local earnings data, visit the following pages:

  • Procurement clerks
  • Job Outlook

    Employment in the occupation is expected to experience little or no change. High school graduates with good communication and computer skills should have the best job opportunities.

    Employment change. Employment of procurement clerks is expected to decline by 2 percent during the 2006-16 decade, which is considered little or no change, as a result of increasing automation, offshoring, and business restructuring. The need for procurement clerks will be reduced as the use of computers to place orders directly with suppliers—called electronic data interchange—and as ordering over the Internet—known as e-procurement—become more commonplace. In addition, procurement authority for some purchases is now being given to employees in the departments originating the purchase. These departments may be issued procurement cards, which are similar to credit cards that enable a department to charge purchases up to a specified amount.

    Job prospects. Despite the expected little or no change in employment, job openings will arise out of the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. High school graduates with good communication and computer skills should have the best job opportunities.

    Employment

    In 2006, procurement clerks held about 78,000 jobs in every industry, including manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, health care, and government. About 23 percent of procurement clerks work for Federal, State, and local governments; most of these work for the Federal Government.

    Knowledge
    • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
    • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
    • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
    • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
    • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
    Skills
    • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
    • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
    • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
    • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
    • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
    Abilities
    • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
    • Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
    • Explosive Strength — The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
    • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
    • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
    Tasks
    • Core — Check shipments when they arrive to ensure that orders have been filled correctly and that goods meet specifications.
    • Core — Compare suppliers' bills with bids and purchase orders in order to verify accuracy.
    • Core — Prepare purchase orders and send copies to suppliers and to departments originating requests.
    • Core — Approve bills for payment.
    • Core — Determine if inventory quantities are sufficient for needs, ordering more materials when necessary.
    Activities
    • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
    • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
    • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
    • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
    • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
    Related College Curriculum
     
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