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How to Become a Packaging Engineer

How to Become a Packaging Engineer

A packaging engineer works on product packaging design and technology. This CareerStint write-up will tell you how to become a packaging engineer.
CareerStint Staff
Did You Know?
The Michigan State University (MSU) is a pioneer in the field of packaging science. It is the first university in the United States to offer a full-time degree in packaging studies, in the year 1952.

The packaging industry is huge and encompasses a variety of disciplines. While students must have commonly heard about careers in automobile, manufacturing, mechanical, or production engineering, you may not find many who are clear in their goals of entering a packaging industry. One of the main reasons for this misconception is that not many know that the packaging industry combines a lot of disciplines they are already aware of - for instance, design technology, electronic applications, mechanics, etc. In the following paragraphs, you will learn how to go about becoming a packaging engineer.
Job Profile
  • The primary job responsibility of a packaging engineer entails 'engineering' a suitable 'package' for different products.
  • He observes the product and develops the package design, to begin with.
  • He researches on material and machinery for the package manufacturing process.
  • He checks on the available tools and sets the production wheels in motion.
  • He helps coordinate between different departments and writes important reports.
  • He oversees the development process and prepares to test the package.
  • He reports any glitches to his seniors and may send the product for redesign or redevelopment in case of errors.
Required Skills
  • Good computer literacy
  • Excellent critical-thinking skills
  • Good analytical skills
  • Problem-solving capabilities
  • Brilliant mathematical aptitude
  • Good technical skills
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
Education Requirements

Qualification
  • Taking up subjects, like physics and math in high school would be a fairly good start.
  • There are plenty of options for a college degree in this field. As mentioned before, MSU began the trend of offering full-time degrees in packaging science. Since then and until now, there are many universities that offer bachelor's degrees in packaging engineering and sciences.
  • In fact, any engineering degree (production, manufacturing, mechanical, biochemistry, etc.) will be a strong base for a career in packaging. You can enroll for a master's degree in an area of your specialization.
  • In the course of your study, you will learn about packaging basics, package design, development, manufacturing, material, machinery, equipment, process, etc.
  • You will also learn about business and project management, industry standards, logistics, plastic technology, etc.
Certification
  • There is no mandatory certification for a career in packaging. However, you may enroll for additional certificate or diploma courses to hone your skills further.
  • You can complete certificate programs in CAD (computer-aided design), economics, business communication, industrial graphic design, etc. This will enhance your resume and help you get better jobs.
  • Packaging engineers do not ideally require a license. It is available though, and if you wish to obtain the licensure, you can take the required exam.
Training
  • An engineering degree is a professional course and is available at most of the renowned educational institutes.
  • Most of the programs have internships as a part of the coursework.
  • This program teaches students about the practical applications of packaging.
  • You get to learn and understand how the package is designed, developed, manufactured and then tested on the required product.
  • At an entry-level, qualified packaging engineers join as associate engineers and undergo on-the-job training.
  • A majority of the companies require that their candidates have at least 7 years of work experience before joining as a core package engineer.
  • This goes to say that after graduation and internship, it is advisable for packaging engineers to join work in any related field. This experience teaches them a lot about design, material, packaging, outsourcing, distribution, etc. By the time they enter a core packaging company, they are fully equipped to take on the challenges.
Salary
  • Packaging engineers are very well-paid, irrespective of whether they are at an entry-level position or a management position.
  • The salary range for a fairly-experienced packaging engineer is between USD 50,000 and USD 100,000.
  • The salary varies with the location, designation, and company.
  • The median salary as per the latest statistics may amount to approximately USD 70,000.
  • Candidates with excellent credentials and recommendations may earn more than USD 100,000 after a few years of experience.
Career Outlook
  • The career path of a packaging engineer may vary with respect to his educational qualifications.
  • Ideally, if you have enrolled in a pure packaging engineering degree, you may be an associate engineer in the same field.
  • However, statistics reveal that candidates who have related degrees have almost the same level of knowledge and expertise after completing specialized training programs.
  • Surprisingly, the BLS predicts a slightly slower growth for this field within the next decade.
  • That said, the slow job growth does not indicate a fall in demand, so candidates wanting to specialize in this field can go ahead with pursuing their interests.
  • The job is hectic of course; despite the fact that you work regular hours. Also, the responsibilities are stressful.
A packaging engineer has other career choices as well; he may also work as a designer, researcher, manager, development associate, technical expert, or an industry expert. If you enjoy machinery, manufacturing processes, and related disciplines, this job is perfect for you.