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Purchasing Coordinator Career Guide

What is a purchasing coordinator?

A purchasing coordinator is a key figure within an organization who participates in the procurement process. This profession plays a significant role in a company’s operations since it primarily revolves around the procurement of materials, goods, and services necessary to maintain a company’s operation. Purchasing coordinators bridge the gap between the company and its suppliers, ensuring that all procurements are made efficiently and cost-effectively, ultimately contributing to the company’s profitability and sustainability.

These professionals are instrumental not just in sustaining day-to-day operations but also in strategizing for the future. They forecast and plan procurement activities based on the organization’s projected needs and market trends. Their contribution matters deeply to the overall success of an organization as they directly impact the quality, cost, and availability of resources a business needs to function.

Duties and responsibilities

The core responsibilities of a purchasing coordinator are centered around procurement activities. They are responsible for sourcing, negotiating, and purchasing goods and services from vendors. This includes researching potential suppliers, comparing prices, and assessing the quality of products before deciding on a purchase. These coordinators serve as the main point of contact between their company and the suppliers, and it’s their job to maintain these relationships.

In addition to the buying process, professionals in this role also handle administrative tasks related to procurement. They manage and track orders, ensuring timely delivery and resolving any issues that could delay or affect the delivery. They’re also responsible for maintaining accurate and up-to-date records of purchases, tracking the company’s inventory, and assessing future procurement needs.

Work environment

Most purchasing coordinators work in an office setting, whether it’s an individual office, a shared space, or an open-plan office. They typically spend their time on computers, making calls, analyzing data, and participating in meetings with colleagues and suppliers. It’s commonly a fast-paced role, given the need to manage multiple suppliers and orders simultaneously and resolve any problems that may arise promptly.

Although much of the work is done at their desk, they might need to visit suppliers or inspect warehouse facilities occasionally. Some travel may be required, particularly if the organization works with suppliers in different locations. The work is mostly collaborative, involving regular interaction with various departments within the company, such as production, finance, and sales.

Typical work hours

A purchasing coordinator typically works during regular business hours from Monday to Friday, ranging from 40 to 45 hours per week. However, hours can extend into evenings or weekends when there are deadlines to meet, problems to resolve, or during peak periods of the procurement cycle. Flexibility may be required to accommodate communication with suppliers across different time zones.

While most of their work is conducted during traditional business hours, on-call duties may be part of the job, especially in industries where around-the-clock operations are the norm. Despite the potential for extended hours, the ability to manage time efficiently can help maintain a healthy work-life balance. The flexibility of the hours largely depends on the specific industry and the organization’s size and operational demands.

How to become a purchasing coordinator

This career guide section outlines the steps to become a purchasing coordinator.

Step 1: Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent

The first step is to complete your high school education. In high school, taking business courses or participating in clubs focused on business and finance can be beneficial to get an early start.

Step 2: Pursue a bachelor’s degree

Most employers require a bachelor’s degree for this position. A degree in business, finance, or a related field is often preferred. This education provides a strong foundation in management principles and practices, financial analysis, and operational logistics.

Step 3: Gain relevant work experience

Entry-level positions in a company’s purchasing or supply chain department can provide relevant experience. Here, you would learn about vendor relations, negotiate prices, and understand the intricacies of delivery and supply chain management.

Step 4: Develop necessary skills

Important skills for a coordinator include strong negotiation, analytical, and decision-making abilities. Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, especially Excel, and familiarity with Inventory Management Software are often required. Developing these skills can be accomplished through on-the-job experience or specific training courses.

Step 5: Obtain certification

Although not often required, some hiring managers might prefer candidates with relevant professional certifications. The American Purchasing Society offers Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) certification. The certification demonstrates a level of professionalism and commitment to the field.

Step 6: Apply for purchasing coordinator positions

After acquiring the necessary education, experience, skills, and possibly a professional certification, the final step is to apply for positions. Tailor your resume and cover letter to each job application, highlighting your most relevant skills and experiences.

How much do purchasing coordinators make?

Purchasing coordinator salaries will vary by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. Specialized knowledge in areas such as logistics, supply chain management, and negotiation tactics can heavily impact their compensation.

Highest paying industries

  • Defense and Space – $85,620
  • Aviation and Aerospace – $78,930
  • IT and Network Services – $77,480
  • Biotechnology – $74,700
  • Electricity Generation and Supply – $68,050

Highest paying states

  • Massachusetts – $72,680
  • California – $70,320
  • Connecticut – $68,760
  • New Jersey – $66,280
  • Washington – $60,540

Browse purchasing coordinator salary data by market

Types of purchasing coordinators

Below, we highlight the various career types and areas of specialization for purchasing coordinators. This section explains the profession’s range and guides you in choosing the most suitable career path.

Direct procurement

Within this specialization, a purchasing coordinator primarily handles buying goods and services directly incorporated into a company’s products. This can include raw materials and parts needed for manufacturing or assembly. The job requires thorough knowledge of the necessary products and a strong ability to negotiate for the best prices and delivery conditions.

Indirect procurement

In the case of indirect procurement, their role involves the purchase of goods and services necessary for running the daily operations of a company. These can range from office supplies to maintenance services. The buying decisions made by an individual in this position directly impact the performance and efficiency of the organization, making it a highly important role.

Inventory control

Those specializing in inventory control keep track of a company’s stock of goods. Their main responsibility is to ensure that the company always has the necessary amount of each product or material available. This role often necessitates excellent organizational skills and a strong understanding of supply chain logistics.

Vendor management

A significant part of their job can be vendor management. This specialization requires forging and maintaining relationships with suppliers. It’s common for these professionals to negotiate contracts, address quality concerns, and research to find potential new vendors. Successful individuals in this role usually have excellent communication and relationship-building skills.

Strategic purchasing

The strategic purchasing specialization involves long-term planning and managing procurement activities. This role seeks to align purchasing decisions with the broader strategic objectives of the company. Those who excel in this area tend to display superior analytical skills and have a firm understanding of market trends and forecasts. They also need to plan and make decisions under pressure while managing risks.

Top skills for purchasing coordinators

This section outlines the primary skills and traits needed for career success as a purchasing coordinator. Mastery of procurement, negotiation, and administrative abilities often define professionals’ success in this field.

Procurement skills

In the role of a purchasing coordinator, procurement proficiency plays a critical role. These individuals should be adept at sourcing and buying goods and services that a company requires. A good grasp of supply chain management is also essential in this regard, enabling coordination with suppliers to ensure that the company’s needs are met in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Negotiation abilities

Negotiation is a core function within their duties. They must be capable of discussing prices and contract terms with suppliers to secure the most advantageous conditions for their company. This responsibility requires strong interpersonal skills, persuasive prowess, and a deep understanding of market dynamics.

Administrative competence

Given that the role involves significant paperwork and organizational tasks, administrative competence is vital. This includes record-keeping, managing purchase orders, and maintaining a transparent and efficient procurement process. Attention to detail, proficiency in relevant software, and time-management skills are all facets of this requirement.

Problem-solving skills

Unanticipated issues can arise in the procurement process. Coordinators should be equipped with robust problem-solving skills to tackle these challenges efficiently. They need to identify the issue, evaluate possible solutions, and execute the best course of action to minimize disruption in the supply chain.

Communication skills

Clear and effective communication is paramount in this role, as coordinators regularly interact with suppliers, delivery personnel, and internal teams. They need to clearly articulate the company’s requirements to suppliers and maintain a smooth information flow within the organization about purchasing activities. They should be capable of written communication for official documentation and verbal communication for negotiations and meetings.

Purchasing coordinator career path

As a purchasing coordinator, you play a key role in most organizations. You’re vital to just about everything a company does, from the raw materials it buys to the services it uses. The future holds infinite possibilities in purchasing and supply chain management, thanks to the steadily increasing importance of strategic procurement in many industries.

Several paths lie ahead for those wishing to further their careers in this field. You might consider moving into a purchasing manager role, where you’d be responsible for supervising and coordinating the work of a team of purchasing coordinators. This position often comes with higher responsibility and, in turn, a higher salary.

You could also consider migrating over to supply chain management, where the purchasing activities you’ve been managing are just one piece of a larger puzzle. The multifaceted nature of the supply chain, which includes logistics, inventory control, and distribution, may appeal to those who enjoy tackling complex, interrelated tasks. Roles such as supply chain analyst, supply chain manager, or supply chain director are potential steps on this career path.

Vendor or supplier relationship management is another area you could move into. This field focuses on building and maintaining strong, beneficial relationships with suppliers, which you’re likely already involved with to some extent as a coordinator. Believe it or not, your ability to negotiate, persuade, and build relationships could earn you a position as an organization’s relationship manager.

Expanding your educational qualifications can significantly boost your career progression. Obtaining an MBA, for example, can provide you with a solid foundation in business strategy and decision-making, which are highly relevant to higher-level purchasing roles. This could prepare you for a future role as a chief procurement officer, a position that encompasses all of purchasing and supply chain management. There’s also the standard certification in supply management. Given how connected your role is to the broader field of supply chain management, such credentials can further reinforce your skill set and enhance your attractiveness to employers.

Finally, you might decide to hone your expertise in a specific sector. For example, you could specialize in tech industry procurement, where understanding the rapidly-changing world of technology products and services is highly valued. Or you could choose to concentrate on pharmaceutical procurement, where there is high demand for skills in purchasing, negotiation, and supplier relationship management. In both examples, becoming a specialist could make you an invaluable asset within these industries.

This role is affected by various external trends. Technological advancements made in the realm of procurement software significantly affect this job. The increasing reliance on data analysis and automation has surfaced the value of tech-savvy coordinators who can adapt and grow with the evolving field. The more skilled they are in using modern software, the more efficient they can be in their responsibilities.

Also, sustainability movements affecting the corporation impact this position. A growing focus on sustainable and ethical purchasing is propelling coordinators to reconsider vendors and supply chains. This ethical demand requires procurement professionals to hold their suppliers accountable. The purchasing coordinators of today and the future should look for fair-trade and organic suppliers while keeping the company’s budget in mind.

Employment projections for purchasing coordinators

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for purchasing coordinators, a sub-category of buyers and purchasing agents, is projected to decline by 6% through 2031. The advent of software and other technologies should streamline many of these professionals’ tasks over the next decade, limiting job growth in this field. However, those with industry experience, a bachelor’s degree, or relevant certifications may have better prospects.

Purchasing coordinator career tips

Understand the market

Knowledge of the current market condition is vital. It’s important to stay informed about market trends, price changes, new products, and supplier options. This insight will help you make proactive buying decisions and negotiations with suppliers.

Develop strong negotiation skills

Strong negotiation skills are invaluable in purchasing coordination. These skills enable you to obtain the best value for your organization by wrangling the best prices, terms, and delivery schedules from suppliers. Practice and hone your negotiation abilities regularly to excel in this aspect of the role.

Enhance communication skills

Clear and effective communication is another key aspect for coordinators. You’ll need to communicate effectively with both internal teams and external suppliers. Your ability to convey your organization’s needs can greatly influence your success in this role.

Focus on continuous learning

One must understand the importance of continuous learning in the field of purchasing coordination. The market and its technologies are ever-evolving; staying updated can give you a competitive edge.

  • Attend relevant webinars, workshops, and seminars
  • Consider obtaining professional certifications such as the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM)
  • Read regularly about industry updates and trends

Build a professional network

Building a strong professional network can significantly influence your career in this role. Regular interaction with peers can provide you with useful insights and recommendations. You can build your network through:

  • Joining professional associations like the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP)
  • Participating actively in relevant networking events or conferences
  • Engaging with peers and professionals on professional networking websites

Where the purchasing coordinator jobs are

Top employers

  • Brookfield Properties
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • PepsiCo

Top states

  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Illinois

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • ZipRecruiter
  • SimplyHired


What skills are required to excel as a purchasing coordinator?

Successful coordinators in this position frequently demonstrate excellent organizational skills, negotiating ability, and an eye for detail. They also need to be good at numerical estimation, exercising discretion in spending, and have excellent time management skills. Familiarity with procurement software and proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite is also beneficial.

What kind of education is required for purchasing coordinators?

A bachelor’s degree in business administration, supply chain management, or a related field is commonly required. However, some employers may consider applicants with a high school diploma and significant experience in purchasing or procurement.

What does a typical day look like for a purchasing coordinator?

The day-to-day responsibilities can vary widely depending on the organization and its supply needs. However, tasks may include researching and comparing suppliers, negotiating contracts, placing orders, and monitoring delivery schedules. Individuals in this role might also be tasked with resolving any supply issues or discrepancies that arise.

What industries employ purchasing coordinators?

Roles like this are found across a wide range of industries, often being essential in any business that requires a regular supply of goods or materials. This includes manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and construction industries.

What is the work environment like for purchasing coordinators?

Generally, this role is office-based, with coordinators working standard business hours. However, occasional travel may be required depending on the organization and nature of the suppliers. Also, time-sensitive tasks and deadlines can sometimes make this job somewhat stressful.

Do purchasing coordinators need to have good negotiation skills?

Absolutely. One of the key aspects of the role is negotiating prices and terms with suppliers. This requires an understanding of market trends, the ability to compare different suppliers effectively, and the skills to negotiate favorable conditions.

What are the opportunities for growth and advancement for a purchasing coordinator?

With experience and a proven track record of effective purchasing, individuals in this role may have the opportunity to progress to management positions. This might include roles such as purchasing manager or procurement manager, where they would oversee the work of a team of purchasing professionals.

What type of personality traits are suitable for a purchasing coordinator?

Since the role often requires dealing with suppliers and handling procurement issues, traits like assertiveness, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills can be quite beneficial. It’s also helpful to have an analytical mind to evaluate suppliers and make the best purchasing decisions. Most importantly, integrity would be highly valued, as the role often involves handling the organization’s finances.

Can purchasing coordinators work remotely?

While traditionally an office-based role, advances in technology and organizational trends toward remote work mean that some purchasing coordinators may have the opportunity to work remotely. This will, however, depend on the specific organization’s policies and requirements.