Procurement Clerks

In our commercialistic society, we are all about buying and selling, and procurement clerks are a necessary component of the process. The term “procurement” refers to the act of getting possession of something, as with buying. Procurement clerks handle buying-related tasks, so that their employer or customers can get possession of goods and services. Procurement clerks are also sometimes called purchasing clerks.

Here’s what you need to know about procurement-clerk jobs:

Job duties could be vast. Procurement clerks manage and organize purchases. This may include preparing purchase orders, handling questions about orders, keeping up with supplies and purchases, and making material requests to negotiate with suppliers about product delivery and cost. Procurement clerks are also usually required to follow up on transactions and verify that the purchased item reached the customer according to schedule and in good shape.

Income is highly variable. On average, procurement clerks earn about $16 to $17 an hour, although this number varies widely by employer, industry, and your experience. Depending on your employer, there may be numerous opportunities for promotion and higher pay. Some procurement managers earn a six-figure salary, but obviously this would be for very large companies with considerable resources.

You need a high school diploma. Most companies prefer to hire procurement clerks who have a high school diploma or its equivalent. A high school education teaches skills such as typing, time management, the basics of communication, paper management, and computer knowledge—all essential skills for the procurement clerk. To advance into higher positions, you may want to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business or a related field.

You’ll receive on-the-job training. Companies often train procurement clerks on the job because every employer has a different way of doing things. As a procurement clerk, you need to become an expert in your employer’s specific system. This may include training under more experienced employees for several weeks or more, until you are ready to handle the job on your own.

You should be computer-savvy and good with numbers. Math and computer skills may be helpful. As with most jobs, the procurement industry has evolved with the rapid pace of computer technology. You may need to use computers, scanners, email, electronic spreadsheets, and Internet Web pages to do your job. As the procurement clerk, you will need to know how to operate a computer and the relevant software. You may also need to quickly track inventory and calculate order costs.

Communication skills are a must. In addition to computer skills and math knowledge, you should also have good communication skills. Procurement clerks often need to resolve issues with purchase inventory and delivery. You may need to contact suppliers in order to schedule or rush deliveries and to resolve shortages, missed or late deliveries, and other problems. Conflict resolution and good listening skills with assertive answers would be helpful.

Be persistent in your job search. Employment for procurement clerks is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade, at a rate of about 6 percent. This is probably because more companies are using computer and online services to place orders directly with suppliers, cutting out the procurement clerk function. But there will still be job opportunities, because current procurement clerks will leave their positions for other fields and the employer will need to hire new clerks. So if there aren’t many jobs available right now, try again tomorrow and the day after that. The key to finding a procurement clerk job is to check the classified ads regularly and don’t forget online search engines.

Gain skills to stay professionally relevant. The procurement industry offers many opportunities for those who go the extra mile. Having an associate’s or bachelor’s degree may help you stand out from the crowd. If you don’t have time to go back to school, you may want to consider studying for a certification or gaining skills in finance, business, and communication. There are some great seminars and conferences for these topics. Finally, don’t forget to stay up to date in technology, especially those computer trends that affect purchasing trends.