How Do I Become a Purchasing Clerk?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jeri Sullivan
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 11 August 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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There are a few key factors required for anyone who wishes to become a purchasing clerk. A purchasing clerk works in the procurement department of manufacturing facilities, construction companies, or any business that must make purchasing decisions. A purchasing clerk must possess good communication skills, excellent organizational characteristics, and problem-solving and multitasking abilities.

Though preferred, it is not necessary to have prior procurement experience to become a purchasing clerk. A purchasing clerk is typically an entry-level position in most firms. The purchasing clerk may report to the purchasing manager or senior buyers. Part of the training process is to job shadow a current buyer or purchasing agent to understand how the procurement process works.

The purchasing clerk role involves daily interaction with suppliers and internal purchasing personnel, so good communication skills are a must. The ability to clearly articulate over the phone is mandatory since much of the day-to-day activities of a purchasing clerk requires calls to suppliers to request quotes, check purchase order status, or expedite material. Written communications such as emails or memos should also reflect proper grammar and clear direction.

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Excellent organizational skills are also a must to become a purchasing clerk. Filing and keeping up with hard copy purchase orders often falls within a purchasing clerk's duties. Many companies have moved to electronic purchase orders, which requires the purchasing clerk to become familiar with how to update electronic repositories and files online. The ability to quickly retrieve the needed information when requested is key.

Problem solving abilities and the ability to multitask are characteristics you need to become a purchasing clerk. Since there can be literally thousands of purchase orders to manage at any point, a successful purchasing clerk can juggle many tasks at once without getting flustered. There may be times when the buyers or purchasing agents are simply too busy to complete all of the purchasing activities themselves, so the purchasing clerks will help pick up some of their duties. The ability to come up with useful ideas to help relieve the workload can make a purchasing clerk an integral part of the purchasing department.

If these characteristics are not something you currently possess, consider taking classes in organizational management, effective communication, or problem solving to hone your skills. Other options may be to volunteer or intern at local businesses for a short time to learn exactly how a purchasing department works. Joining your local chapter of a national purchasing association, such as the National Association of Purchasing Managers (NAPM), or studying the material it publishes for its certification exams may also help you get familiar with what it takes to become a purchasing clerk.

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