Packaging engineers are employed by almost every manufacturing industry. Pharmaceutical, beverage, cosmetics, and food industries are major employers of packaging engineers. Some packaging engineers are hired to design and develop packaging while others oversee the actual production of the packages. Some companies have their own packaging facilities while other companies subcontract the packaging to specialized packing firms. Manufacturing and packaging companies can be large, multinational enterprises that manufacture, package, and distribute numerous products, or they can be small operations that are limited to the production of one or two specific products. Specialized packaging companies hire employees for all aspects of the packaging design and production process. Worldwide manufacturing offers career opportunities around the world. The federal government and the armed services also have employment opportunities for packaging engineers.
College graduates with a degree in packaging or a related field of engineering should find it easy to get jobs. Many companies send recruiters to college campuses to meet with graduating students and interview them for positions with their companies. Students can also learn about employment possibilities through their schools' career services offices, job fairs, classified advertisements in newspapers and trade publications, and referrals from teachers. Students who have participated in an internship or work-study program through a college may learn about employment opportunities through contacts with industry professionals.
Students can also research companies they are interested in working for and apply directly to the person in charge of packaging or the personnel office.
Beginning packaging engineers generally do routine work under the supervision of experienced engineers and may also receive some formal training through their company. As they become more experienced, they are given more difficult tasks and more independence in solving problems, developing designs, or making decisions.
Some companies provide structured programs in which packaging engineers progress through a sequence of positions to more advanced packaging engineering positions. For example, an entry-level engineer might start out by producing engineering layouts to assist product designers, advance to the position of product designer, and ultimately move into a management position.
Packaging engineers may advance from being a member of a team to a project supervisor or department manager. Qualified packaging engineers may advance through their department to become a manager or vice president of their company. To advance to a management position, the packaging engineer must demonstrate good technical and production skills and managerial ability. After years of experience, a packaging engineer might wish to become self-employed as a packaging consultant.
To improve chances for advancement, the packaging engineer may wish to get a master's degree in another branch of engineering or in business administration. Many executives in government and industry began their careers as engineers. Some engineers become patent attorneys by combining a law degree with their technical and scientific knowledge.
Many companies encourage continuing education throughout one's career and provide training opportunities in the form of in-house seminars and outside workshops. Taking advantage of any training offered helps one to develop new skills and learn technical information that can increase chances for advancement. Many companies also encourage their employees to participate in professional association activities. Membership and involvement in professional associations are valuable ways to stay current on new trends within the industry, to familiarize oneself with what other companies are doing, and to make contacts with other professionals in the industry. Many times, professionals learn about opportunities for advancement in new areas or at different companies through the contacts they have made at association events.
Tips for Entry
Visit Packaging World's Web site, https://www.packworld.com/page/schools, for a list of schools with packaging programs. Some of these schools offer certificate programs and some offer minors to be combined with another major for a bachelor's degree.
Visit The National Institute of Packaging, Handling, and Logistics Engineers' Web site, https://www.niphle.org, thttps://www.packagingdigest.com/o learn more about the field of military packaging.
Learn about the industry by reading trade publications or visiting their Web sites, such as Packaging World (https://www.packworld.com) and Packaging Digest (https://www.packagingdigest.com).