About 3 in 10 procurement clerks work for Federal, State,
and local governments.
Most employers prefer applicants who have a high school diploma
and who are computer-literate.
Overall employment is expected to decline through 2014 as
a result of increasing automation.
Nature of the 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 the ordering of goods and supplies
for an organization and 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. For example, computers integrated with cash registers
at stores record purchases and automatically reorder goods
when supplies reach a certain target level. 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 and also
have a wide range of responsibilities. Some clerks act more
like buyers, particularly at small to medium-size companies,
while others perform strictly clerical functions. 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
thereby put together spreadsheets with price comparisons and
other facts about each supplier. Upon the organization’s approval
of a supplier, purchase orders are prepared, mailed, and entered
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 concur with 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.
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 be
expected to work overtime or varied shifts.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Most employers prefer applicants with a high school diploma
or its equivalent or a mix of education and related experience.
Most employers prefer workers who are computer-literate and
have a working knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet
Most procurement clerks are trained on the job under close
supervision of more experienced employees. Proficiency with
desktop computer software is becoming increasingly important
as most tasks, such as preparing purchase orders, are being
filed electronically. Some procurement clerks that have more
education and show a greater understanding of contracts and
purchasing may be promoted to the position of purchasing agent
In 2004, procurement clerks held about 74,000 jobs. Procurement
clerks are found in every industry, including manufacturing,
retail and wholesale trade, health care, and government. About
3 in 10 procurement clerks work for Federal, State, and local
governments; most of these clerks work for the Federal Government.
Employment of procurement clerks is expected to decline through
2014 as a result of increasing automation. 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
Although overall employment in the occupation is expected
to decline, job outlook varies by industry. For example, employment
will decline in manufacturing, the primary employer of procurement
clerks in the goods-producing sector of the economy. In contrast,
employment of procurement clerks will increase in some industries
in the service-providing sector—such as retail trade, professional
services, and health care—which are beginning to realize that
a centralized procurement department may be more cost effective
than units making purchases independently, as many service
companies had been doing. However, most job openings will
arise out of the need to replace workers who transfer to other
occupations or leave the labor force. Persons with good writing
and communication skills, along with computer skills, will
have the best opportunities for employment.
Median hourly earnings of procurement clerks in May 2004
were $14.85. The middle 50 percent earned between $11.82 and
$18.11. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.52 and the
highest 10 percent earned more than $21.03. Procurement clerks
working for the Federal Government had an average annual income
of $39,011 in 2005.
Procurement clerks compile information and records to draw
up purchase orders for materials and services. Other workers
who perform similar duties are purchasing agents and buyers,
order clerks, file clerks, secretaries, and receptionists
and information clerks.
Sources of Additional Information
Information on employment opportunities for procurement clerks
is available from local offices of the State employment service.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07