packaging careers and packaging engineer professional

Future of Packaging: Engineering Expectations


Within the packaging industry, there are a vast amount of career opportunities that all contribute to helping influence change. Based on interests and skillsets, there is something for everyone.

Want to make a difference? Learn about the top careers, schools, opportunities, and future in packaging.


How to Become a Packaging Professional

In the United States, there are many schools that offer packaging-specific programs that tailor to this ever-growing industry.


10 Schools for Packaging

There are a number of universities that have programs dedicated to future packaging professionals. Here are some common packaging schools across the country:

  • California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
  • Clemson University
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Indiana State University
  • Michigan State University
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Rutgers University
  • San Jose State University
  • University of Wisconsin-Stout
  • Virginia Tech


Most Common Packaging Degrees

Based on universities that offer packaging programs, students can declare a multitude of majors and minors. Some of these popular degrees include:

  • Automated Packaging Systems Technician
  • Engineering Management
  • Industrial Technology and Packaging
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Mechatronics Engineering Technology
  • Packaging
  • Packaging Engineering
  • Packaging Engineering Technology
  • Packaging Science
  • Packaging Systems and Design
  • Packaging Value Chain


Most Common Packaging Job Titles

Packaging professionals can choose many different paths throughout the industry, including:

  • Commercial and Industrial Designers
  • Engineering Technicians
  • Engineering Managers
  • Industrial Engineers
  • Package Cushioning Designer
  • Packaging Designer
  • Packaging Design Engineer
  • Package Testing and Development Engineer
  • Packaging Engineer
  • Packaging Operator
  • Packaging Scientist
  • Packaging Specialist
  • Product Development Manager
  • Research and Development Engineer
  • Structural Designer
  • Sustainable Packaging Engineer


What Type of Work Do Packaging Professionals Do?

Let’s review three different jobs in the packaging industry: research and development engineer, packaging designer, and packaging operator. Outside of these featured positions, there are a variety of other careers that packaging professionals can pursue including marketing, business, and supply chain.


What Does a Research and Development Engineer Do?

A research and development (R&D) engineer coordinates all aspects of research and product development projects as needed to successfully complete major projects within time and budget constraints.

This position often comprises of product and process development project work to meet company initiatives, engineering direction and support to plant facilities operations, develop communications with suppliers for researching new materials or equipment for process improvements, help coordinate downtime for equipment moves and/or R&D trials with minimal impact to production, and work with a variety of team members to evaluate, recommend, and implement improvements and new developments.


What Does a Packaging Designer Do?

A packaging designer or packaging design engineer creates packaging that appeals to the target consumers while being safe, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and compliant with packaging regulations. They collaborate with design and marketing teams, as well as packaging engineers, to develop packaging ideas for a variety of products.

A main component of a packaging designer’s duties is to ensure the company or client’s product is reflected and the brand is reflected in the packaging. Based on market trends, they also conceptualize, design, and execute prototypes using design elements such as shape, color, graphics, and typography to create packaging that is functional and appealing to consumers.


What Does a Packaging Operator Do?

A packaging operator, also called a packaging technician, uses packaging machines and other equipment to package finished products for sale or distribution. They also ensure the packaging aligns with company standards, regulations, protocols, and quality assurance standards—just like every other stage of the manufacturing process.

Some common responsibilities include how to operate machinery, refill packaging material, perform routine maintenance, execute preventative maintenance, inspect final products, and troubleshoot minor problems. Packaging operators are critical to carrying out the packaging process right before products are ready to be shipped and delivered.


Other Packaging Careers

It’s also important to highlight other careers within the packaging industry such as sales and marketing, business and finance, logistics and supply chain, and human resources. The range of responsibilities can include influencing consumer demand for specific products, providing financial insights to drive business outcomes, identifying cost savings initiatives, and developing shipping process and procedures to maximize efficiency.

Even without a packaging-specific degree, there are opportunities to pursue passions, build a lifelong career, help influence change, and create a more sustainable world.


Future of Packaging

With an especially strong push towards sustainable packaging for environmental and consumer reasons, packaging is always transforming and changing to adapt to the current market needs. The packaging industry is a competitive one, which means a level of built-in job security. Most universities that offer packaging programs state that their placement rate for packaging degrees is between 98-100%. Currently there are more jobs available than candidates available to fill them.


Packaging Job Opportunities in Wisconsin

Specifically in Wisconsin, where the Fresh-Lock team’s headquarters are located, there are thriving packaging professionals who are doing great work for a variety of companies. With a lower cost of living than the West and East Coast and over 470,000 manufacturing jobs, packaging engineers can find highly successful careers in Wisconsin.

  • Top 10 Manufacturing State
  • #11 Best State to Find a Job
  • #1 in Manufacturing Employment as a Percentage of Workforce
  • 7 of the Top 25 Best Places for Millennials to Move

Source: Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation


Become Part of the Packaging Journey

As the industry continues to grow, learn more about what it takes to become a packaging professional.

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