How to Become a Package Designer

How to Become a Package Designer: Career Path Guide

Becoming a package designer typically requires an education in graphic design, marketing, visual communication, or a closely related field. You may also be able to work your way up to a career as a package design, if you work in jobs that allow you to develop and hone market research abilities and graphic design skills.


If you want to become a package designer, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a package designer:


• You have excellent research skills, and are able to gain a thorough understanding of your target market

• You have excellent abilities with graphic design software such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop

• You could see yourself working in marketing and brand development

• You enjoy working with computers, and doing work that involves creativity

• You are able to apply communication skills and logic abilities to gain a thorough understanding of a project’s needs


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a package designer. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, salary expectations, required skills, required education, a list of employer types, and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Package Designer

The specific educational requirements for becoming a package designer will typically vary from employer to employer, although you typically need a diploma, an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, marketing, visual communication, or a closely related field.


Within your diploma or degree program, it is recommended that you pursue courses that are specific to a career as a package designer, such as cosmetics packaging, electronic media, marketing, logo design and food packaging.


Some employers may hire you without formal post-secondary education, although they will likely require that you have an impressive portfolio that demonstrates your versatility and competence in package design and branding. In general however, the more education you have in a field related to package design, the more marketable you are to employers.


Success Tip: Try to look for a diploma or degree program that offers an internship or work placement opportunity as part of its curriculum, as these are great ways for getting relevant career experience while you are still a student.





Package Designer Job Description

Package designers are responsible for leading the packaging design and creation process for a variety of products, including beverages, food, cosmetics, toiletries, medicine, toys, and apparel.


In the design of packaging for a product, package designers must do market research to gain a thorough idea of what their target market is looking for. They must then be able to create designs that not only appeal aesthetically to their market, to make it “jump off the shelf” at them; they must try to connect the product and brand to the consumer on an emotional level, to make the consumer urged to buy it.


The job of a package designer goes beyond creating aesthetically and emotionally appealing packaging designs however, as they must take many more elements of a package’s design into consideration; they must also ensure that they packages they design suit the company and brand’s overall image, and are cost effective to produce.


Package designers must also be concerned with ensuring that the packaging can survive transportation from packaging facilities, and protect the product inside. They often work with other professionals in their organization, such as packaging engineers, or food packing specialists, to ensure this side of the job is done properly.


Goals of Package Designer:


• To sell the product

• To protect the product

• To facilitate the use of the product

• To build and enhance recognition of the product

• To produce a package that is cost-effective

• To work within industry regulations 



Package Designer Job Description

• Perform market research to gain understanding of the target market’s wants and needs

• Gain an understanding of the project needs and budget

• Brainstorm ideas for distinctive designs

• Sketch designs of the package for a certain product

• Consider factors such as aesthetic appeal, durability and cost-effectiveness during design process

• Confer with marketing to create packaging that’s cheap, efficient and appealing to consumers

• Attend team meetings to debate design aspects

• May assist in fabricating models in paper, wood, glass, plastic and other materials

• Present ideas to production executives and/or clients for approval

• Make any necessary changes to design for the purpose of seeking final approval



Who Creates Jobs for Package Designers?

A package designer typically either works as a permanent employee of an organization, or as a freelancer that is hired for a specific project, or for a specific period of time. Whether as a permanent employee, or as a contract freelancer, the following types of organizations employ package designers:


• Advertising and branding agencies

• Graphic design studios and consultancies

• Small, medium and large companies that manufacture, distribute or sell a variety of products, including beverages, cosmetics, toys, apparel and food






How to Gain Package Designer Career Experience

A great way to break into the field of packaging design is to land an internship or work placement position while you are in school. Speak to your school’s career counselors or your instructors, as they may be able to help you identify and arrange an internship opportunity. Internships will also offer some hands-on design experience, give you an opportunity to develop you resume and portfolio, and will help you develop valuable industry contacts.


You may also want to consider looking for temporary, freelance or contract positions with design and advertising agencies. These positions will help you gain experience in branding principles and the business end of packaging design. A series of short-term freelance, temporary or contract positions will also give you samples to show employers and build your reputation among leaders in packaging design.


Developing and maintaining a portfolio is critical for any designer working in any field, packing design is no exception. Your portfolio should contain your best pieces from a diverse body of your work.


Success Tip: Don’t be afraid to volunteer your design skills, as this can be an equally effective way of building a portfolio and building your professional network.



Package Designer Salary

The salary level of package designers can vary, as there are many factors that influence their level of earnings. One of the main factors affecting their level of income is whether they work as full-time employees of an organization, or as freelancers. This is because:


• The amount of work a freelancer is able to secure may fluctuate greatly

• Freelancers may incur additional expenses, such as marketing their services, software subscriptions, etc.

• Freelancers are free to set their own hourly fees


Aside from their employment structure, the level of earnings of package designers can vary on a number of additional factors, including:


• Their level of education

• Their level of experience and aptitude

• The region in which they work

• The size and type of their employer/client


Package Designer Salary Alberta: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Graphic Designers and Illustrators occupational group earn an average salary of $52,933 per year.


Package Designer Salary Canada: According to the Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadian workers in the Graphic Designers and Illustrators occupational group is $35,846 per year.


Package Designer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Graphic Designers occupational is $44,150 per year.



Skills Needed to Become a Package Designer

In order to become effective in a career as a package designer you need to posses a certain set of skills. These skills will allow you to perform your job duties with competence, and are usually acquired from a combination of natural ability, schoolwork, and practice.


Design Skills: Package designers need to be able to create designs that provide insight into the personality of the brand; designs that use a good mixture of content, imagery, colours, icons and photography in order capture to the attention of consumers and engage them with emotion, ultimately encouraging them to buy the product. In order to create these designs, package designers must also be well versed in graphic design software, such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and others.


Business Skills: To succeed as a package designer you must have more than good design skills, as you will only actually spend a portion of your time actually creating designs. A good chunk of a your time will be spent performing business-related functions, such as looking at production costs, attending team meetings to debate design aspects, and pitching your design to production executives and clients.


Research Skills: Package designers must be able to effectively research the market of the product they are designing. In order to create an effective product package design, a designer needs to have a thorough understanding of their target market and what appeals to them.


Communication Skills: Whether working as a freelancer or as a permanent employee, package designers must also be able to gain a thorough understanding of their client’s or employer’s needs and objectives. They must also be able to explain why every aspect of a design was chosen as it was.


Physical Abilities: Yes, physical abilities. Not necessarily in the “must be able to lift heavy weight” type of sense, but as a package designer you need to be able to physically (and mentally) ensure working long hours in front of a computer, and concentrate for long periods of time. You also need to be able to perform work that requires visual precision.


Teamwork Skills: Package designers need to be able to work effectively with team members from other departments, such as the brand management and production teams, in order to ensure their design suits the interests of the company as a whole, such as keeping consistent to the company's image, and keeping costs at an acceptable level.



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Package Designer Career: Work Environment

Working Conditions: Whether working as a freelancer or as a permanent employee, a package designer often faces very tight deadlines. They may spend less than half of their workday actually designing; much of their day is spent communicating with clients, team members and employers, either via e-mail, over the phone or in person.


Working Hours: The working hours of package designers can vary; some may work a traditional 9-5 working day, while others may choose their own working hours. Package designers have to occasionally put in long hours in order to ensure they are creating a package that meets their employer’s or client’s need.


Work Setting: Whether employed as a freelancer or a full-time employee of an organization, package designers may work out of a home office or a traditional office.



Careers Similar to Package Designer

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Package Designer, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Advertising Illustrator

Food Packaging Specialist

Logo Designer

Packaging Engineer

Visual Merchandiser



References: Package Designer Career Information

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a package designer.


Wages & Salaries in Alberta:Graphic Designer.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 6, 2020.

Arts & Design:Graphic Designers.” (September 10, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 6, 2020.

Resources:Package Design: What Does it Take?.” Rob Barnett (June 14, 2017). Stray Dog Branding website. Retrieved January 6, 2020.


Please Note: Some of the information for this career guide was gathered from actual job postings, which due to the brief nature of their online presence, are not listed here as sources.




Scholarships for Becoming a Package Designer

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Package Designer can be found on the following pages:


Graphic Design Scholarships

Human Ecology Scholarships

Marketing Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Package Designer: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a Package Designer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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