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Purchasing Officer

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2019: 25,001 to 50,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $921 to $1050 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
Brief Purchasing is changing rapidly on a global basis to meet the challenges of changing technology and processes and to contribute to the well-being of business enterprises.

There are approximately 4,500 purchasing officers in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the manufacturing industry. Over half of persons in this occupation are males and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. The median age for those employed in this occupation is 40 years.

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TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Purchasing Officer

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Planning, organising and scheduling the delivery of goods and services as they are needed is a purchasing officer's key function. These items could range from stationary supplies, to medical supplies and services, to supplies utilised for infrastructure development. Every year, the South Australian government spends millions of dollars purchasing and providing goods, services and infrastructure for the community. Because such a large amount of money is spent in the State each year on such a diverse range of goods and services, the purchasing officers in public sector organisations must adhere to purchasing guidelines, which reflect good purchasing practice.

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Not quite the career you are looking for? Please try the related course profiles below:

Clerical and Administrative

Customer Service Officer,  Library Assistant,  Project and Program Administrator,  Human Resources Manager,  Medical Administrative Officer,  Receptionist,  Personal Assistant,  Financial Planner / Financial Investment Advisers,  Purchasing Officer,  Accountant,  Bookkeeper,  Paralegal,  Conveyancer

Education Requirements

Entry into this occupation is generally through an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificate II or higher qualification. Of those currently employed 19% have a Certificate III or IV; 7% have Bachelor Degrees; 8% have an Advanced Diploma or Diploma. Around 60% have no post-school qualifications. It is recommended that to gain the available qualification to get the best possible chance of employment.

TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Diploma of Purchasing. Pathways include the Certificate IV in Purchasing.

Career Path

The majority of purchasing officers are employed in manufacturing, construction, transport, mining, local, state and federal governments, hospitals and some educational institutions. These positions are normally filled within an organisation by an individual who has worked their way up from other positions.


Construction,  Government Administration and Defence,  Manufacturing


To be updated.

Nature of the Job

Government agencies can only purchase from suppliers that meet the government's purchasing criteria. Private organisations also adhere to strict purchasing guidelines, however, the range of suppliers available to them is much broader. The procurement process commences once you receive an order for supplies from within the Department. Then you have to contact the various suppliers to obtain details such as price, quality and delivery capabilities. The suppliers approached then tender a price for the delivery of the required goods or services. The supplier who offers the best value for money will be the supplier that wins the contract.

Typical Physical Working Environment

Purchasing officers also study suppliers' catalogues and trade journals to see what local and overseas sellers are offering. It is beneficial to them to keep up with market trends and new products. Once goods are received by purchasing officers, they keep computerised records of delivery, payment and the condition of these items. They note whether equipment or goods are in a satisfactory condition and organise the return of any goods, if required. You will need excellent people skills as purchasing officers regularly liaise with suppliers, other staff, and sales representatives. On a technical level, good planning, organisational, and budgeting skills, in addition, a sound knowledge of spreadsheet databases are highly advantageous.

Typical Occupational Example

The lowest price tendered is not always accepted. The emphasis is on value for money. 'A value-added product, at a fair price, from a reliable supplier, wins the business.' (State Supply Commission). Purchasing comprises three general categories: simple, complex and strategic procurement. The method of purchasing used is typically dependent on the value and risk of a purchase. For example, simple procurement is conducted in an environment according to routines and procedures, and under supervision. There is generally minimum risk at this level of purchasing, and officers buy off established contracts. This is generally for goods and services with an estimated value of up to $5,000.

For goods and services between $5,000 and $50,000, written quotations are required. Purchasing officers from government agencies and private organisations would start the process using a written tender to invite offers from suppliers. This overlaps to complex procurement and requires an understanding of basic contract law and supply policies and practices. Formal public tenders are advertised for purchases over $50,000. Purchasing officers at a strategic purchasing level need to develop buying strategies, which demonstrate risk assessment and management capabilities. The profession is moving to implement e-Procurement. This enables purchasing officers to search for products and request information from a host of suppliers who have been pre-registered online. The benefits of this form of purchasing include a reduction in administrative costs and in the time needed to liaise with suppliers.

For further information, contact:

Innovation and Business Skills Australia, Level 2 Building
Level 11, 176 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne 3002
Ph: (03) 9815 7000
Fax: (03) 9815 7001

Earning Potential

The salary for purchasing officers depends on the nature, value, complexity and risks involved in purchasing. The starting salary is approximately $37,000 per year and this may go as high as $120,000 for a purchasing officer dealing with complex or strategic purchases. Salaries may differ between private and government agencies.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online