Packaging Machinery Technicians
Education and Training Requirements
Although a high school diploma is not required, it is preferred by most employers who hire packaging technicians. In high school, you should take geometry and vo-tech classes such as electrical shop, machine shop, and mechanical drawing. Computer classes, including computer-aided design, are also helpful. In addition to developing mechanical and electrical abilities, you should develop communication skills.
Many employers prefer to hire technicians who have completed a two-year technical training program. Completing a machinery training program or packaging machinery program can provide you with the necessary knowledge and technical skills for this type of work. Machinery training programs are available at community colleges, trade schools, and technical institutes throughout the country, but there are only a few technical colleges specializing in packaging machinery programs. These programs award either a degree or certificate in automated packaging machinery systems.
Packaging machinery programs generally last two years and include extensive hands-on training as well as classroom study. You will learn to use simple hand tools, such as hacksaws, drill presses, lathes, mills, and grinders. Other technical courses cover sheet metal and welding work, power transmission, electrical and mechanical systems, maintenance operations, industrial safety, and hazardous materials handling.
Classes in packaging operations include bag making, loading, and closing; case loading; blister packaging; palletizing, conveying, and accumulating; and labeling and bar coding. There are also classes in form fill, seal wrap, and carton machines as well as packaging quality control and package design and testing. Courses especially critical in an industry where technology is increasingly sophisticated are PLC (programmable logic control), CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and manufacturing), fiber optics, robotics, and servo controls.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Although employers may not require certification, it can provide a competitive advantage when seeking employment. The Institute of Packaging Professionals offers the certification designation, certified packaging professional (CPP). Individuals who achieve this certification can add CPP to the end of their name, for example on resumes and business cards. For those packagers having fewer than six years of academic or work experience, a certified professionals in training (CPIT) program is offered.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
No formal education is needed to enter the field, but certification through the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) will generally reward one with higher wages and more job opportunities.
If you are interested in this field, you should have mechanical and electrical aptitudes, manual dexterity, and the ability to work under deadline pressure. In addition, you should have analytical and problem-solving skills. The ability to communicate effectively with people from varying backgrounds is especially important as packaging machinery technicians work closely with engineers, plant managers, customers, and machinery operators. You need to be able to listen to workers' problems as well as to explain things clearly. Packaging machinery technicians frequently have to provide written reports, so good writing skills are beneficial.