Career Development

What Does a Purchasing Assistant Do?

Find out what a purchasing assistant does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a purchasing assistant.

Purchasing assistants are responsible for sourcing and purchasing the raw materials, components, and equipment that companies need to operate. They commonly work with vendors to negotiate prices on goods or services, and they may also be tasked with inspecting purchased items to ensure that they meet quality standards.

Purchasing assistants typically have a lot of contact with suppliers and vendors; this can sometimes lead to opportunities for networking or even job advancement.

Purchasing Assistant Job Duties

A purchasing assistant typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Reviewing purchase orders to ensure that all required information is included and that prices are accurate
  • Coordinating with suppliers to ensure that they deliver materials on time and in accordance with specifications
  • Reviewing bids from suppliers to determine which one best meets the requirements of the purchase order
  • Communicating with vendors regarding order status, payment issues, shipping details, and other business matters
  • Receiving incoming shipments, checking them against purchase orders, and processing them through the company’s inventory system
  • Providing clerical support to other departments within the organization as needed
  • Providing customer service to vendors by answering questions about products or services offered by the company
  • Reviewing purchase orders to ensure that they comply with company policies, state and federal laws, and industry standards
  • Preparing invoices for payment based on the terms of the purchase order

Purchasing Assistant Salary & Outlook

Purchasing assistants’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $41,500 ($19.95/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $54,500 ($26.2/hour)

The employment of purchasing assistants is expected to decline over the next decade.

Organizations are increasingly using electronic systems to automate some of the tasks that purchasing assistants currently perform, such as ordering supplies and processing invoices. Organizations also are beginning to outsource more functions, such as order processing, which may reduce the need for these workers.

Related: 17 Purchasing Assistant Interview Questions and Answers

Purchasing Assistant Job Requirements

The following are some of the qualifications that are often looked for in a purchasing assistant:

Education: Most employers require purchasing assistants to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers prefer candidates who have completed an associate’s degree program in purchasing or supply chain management.

Training & Experience: Purchasing assistants typically receive on-the-job training from their new employers. This training may include learning the company’s purchasing procedures and software. Purchasing assistants may also receive training in the use of purchasing equipment, such as computers and printers.

Certifications & Licenses: While certifications are not often required for purchasing assistants, they can offer valuable skills and qualifications. Certifications allow you to demonstrate your abilities and commitment to excellence.

Purchasing Assistant Skills

Purchasing assistants need the following skills in order to be successful:

Organization: As a purchasing assistant, you should be able to maintain a clean and organized work environment. This can include keeping files organized, maintaining a clean desk and keeping track of inventory. Being able to keep your work area clean and organized can show an employer that you are responsible and dependable.

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information through speech or writing. As a purchasing assistant, you may be required to communicate with suppliers, customers and other employees. Strong communication skills can help you convey your ideas clearly and answer questions effectively.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is a skill that can help you be a more efficient purchasing assistant. This is because you may be required to verify the accuracy of supplier invoices, ensure that you have the correct amount of product in stock and ensure that you have the correct product ordered.

Problem-solving: As a purchasing assistant, you may be responsible for identifying and solving problems that arise during the purchasing process. For example, if a supplier is unable to fulfill an order, you may be responsible for finding a new supplier and negotiating a new contract.

Time management: Time management is a skill that can help you be more efficient in your work. You can use time management to help you complete your tasks on time, which can help you meet your company’s expectations. You can also use time management to help you complete tasks in the correct order, which can help you save time and money.

Purchasing Assistant Work Environment

Purchasing assistants work in a variety of settings, including retail stores, wholesale establishments, and manufacturing and service industries. They typically work regular hours, although some may work evenings or weekends to accommodate the hours of the businesses they support. Purchasing assistants typically work in well-lit and ventilated areas. They may be required to lift and carry boxes of merchandise or supplies weighing up to 25 pounds.

Purchasing Assistant Trends

Here are three trends influencing how purchasing assistants work. Purchasing assistants will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of the Digital Supply Chain

The digital supply chain is growing rapidly as businesses move towards a more efficient and automated purchasing process. This trend is having a major impact on the role of the purchasing assistant, who is now responsible for managing and tracking orders through the entire process.

As the digital supply chain grows, purchasing assistants will need to be familiar with new software tools that help them manage and track orders. They will also need to be able to work effectively with suppliers in order to ensure that their products are delivered on time and meet the needs of the business.

More Collaboration Between Purchasing and Supply Chain

The trend of purchasing and supply chain collaboration is becoming increasingly popular among businesses. This is due to the fact that it can lead to greater efficiency and cost savings for companies.

Purchasing assistants can take advantage of this trend by developing strong relationships with members of the supply chain team. This will allow them to better understand the needs of the company and find ways to meet those needs in a cost-effective way.

Greater Focus on Sustainability

Sustainability has become an important focus for many businesses in recent years, as they have come to realize the importance of being environmentally friendly. This trend is likely to continue into the future, as sustainability becomes even more important to consumers.

As purchasing assistants are responsible for sourcing materials and supplies for their company, they will need to become familiar with sustainable options that are both affordable and high quality. This will allow them to help their company reduce its environmental impact while still providing the products and services that customers want.

How to Become a Purchasing Assistant

When starting your career as a purchasing assistant, it’s important to take the time to learn about the company you work for and its purchasing department. This will help you better understand how the purchasing process works and what is expected of you as an employee.

It’s also important to build relationships with vendors so that you can get to know them and their products. This will make it easier for you to find the best products at the best prices when needed.

Advancement Prospects

Purchasing assistants typically start out working under the supervision of a purchasing manager or buyer. With experience, they may advance to positions such as purchasing agent, purchasing manager, or buyer. Some purchasing assistants may eventually open their own businesses.

Purchasing Assistant Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we’re always searching for new and innovative products to offer our customers. As our purchasing assistant, you’ll be responsible for conducting research, negotiating prices, and placing orders for the merchandise we sell. The ideal candidate will have excellent communication and negotiation skills, as well as the ability to multitask and stay organized in a fast-paced environment. He or she will also be detail-oriented and have a strong knowledge of the latest trends in the retail industry.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve as the primary point of contact for all vendor inquiries, orders, and invoices
  • Review requisitions and purchase orders for accuracy and completeness prior to submission
  • Research potential vendors and compare pricing to ensure best value for the company
  • Negotiate pricing and terms with vendors as needed
  • Prepare and issue purchase orders to approved vendors
  • Monitor delivery timelines and track shipments to ensure timely arrival of goods
  • Resolve any discrepancies with vendors in a timely and professional manner
  • Reconcile invoices against purchase orders and resolve any discrepancies
  • Maintain accurate records of all purchases, including date, cost, quantity, and vendor
  • Generate reports as needed to support purchasing decisions
  • Assist with the development and implementation of purchasing policies and procedures
  • Perform other duties as assigned

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, or related field
  • 2+ years of experience working in purchasing or a related field
  • Excellent communication, negotiation, and interpersonal skills
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Ability to work independently and with a team
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, with aptitude to learn new software and systems

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Working knowledge of SAP or another enterprise resource planning (ERP) system
  • CPIM or APICS certification
  • Experience working in the manufacturing or automotive industry
  • Familiarity with international shipping and customs regulations


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