How to Become a Packaging Engineer

How to Become a Packaging Engineer: Career Path Guide

Although there are many possible paths for getting into this profession, here is a common route:


1. Excel at Physics, Math, Chemistry, Design Studies and Mechanics in high school

2. Make sure you have the right personal traits for this work

3. Pursue a Packaging Engineering or related degree

4. Get work experience related to packaging operations as a student 

5. Get an engineer-in-training job in packaging after graduation

6. Earn the ‘Professional Engineer’ designation once you’ve met the requirements

7. Advance into roles of greater responsibility and pay, consulting or specialized areas


Reading on below should give you a good idea of what you'll need to begin a career as a packaging engineer in the United States or Canada. We've also included helpful information for this field, such as what you’ll be doing, what you could earn, and actual “Packaging Engineer” job postings.



What Education Will I Need?

Packaging engineers must have competence in industry-specific aspects of industrial engineering, marketing, materials science, industrial design and logistics. For this reason, employers typically prefer to hire candidates for packaging engineer jobs that have a bachelor’s degree in Packaging Engineering, or a related field such as Mechanical or Industrial Engineering.




What is a Packaging Engineer?

Packaging engineers plan and direct activities that are directly related to the design and creation of packaging (including packaging materials and systems) for products. To do their job effectively, they must draw upon industry-specific aspects of industrial engineering, marketing, materials science, industrial design and logistics.



What Does a Packaging Engineer Do?

Although their duties can vary, packaging engineers are generally responsible for the following:


• Analyzing engineering drawings and specifications of products to be packaged

• Coordinating material/equipment trials in order to test packaging for suitability and performance under various conditions

• Leading design of experiments to evaluate various packages/materials/equipment

• Interpreting test data, and reporting results for each validation/verification as well as to improve equipment operations

• Developing material/equipment specifications including the use of lab testing equipment to validate and confirm results

• Researching & acquiring production material and equipment related to packaging configurations

• Coordinating documentation of work instructions for new packaging configurations

• Providing technical engineering support for packaging activities

• Interacting with personnel across all levels of the company while building strong relationships and managing customers, internal/external, suppliers

• Commercializing product improvement and cost reduction opportunities related to packaging operations

• Leading multiple and complex projects

• Developing and monitoring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure energy performance and apply accountability



What Experience Will I Need to Become a Packaging Engineer?

Most entry-level packaging engineering jobs don’t require any work experience above what you gain as part of an internship while completing your engineering degree. Mid and senior-level roles often require 2-5 years of experience working in lower level roles, with progressive amounts of responsibility in those roles, as well as “Professional Engineer” certification. 


Success Tip: Getting any extra work experience you can is always a good idea; try to get a summer job relevant to packaging engineering, marketing, materials science or industrial design.



What Licensure/Certification Will I Need?

You will need to be licensed as a Professional Engineer (“PE” - United States; “P.Eng.” - Canada) in order to exercise direct control of a public project and to supervise other engineers and engineering technicians. You will also need to have the PE/P.Eng. designation in order to sell your own engineering services publicly. 


You won't need to have the Professional Engineer designation to be hired on as an engineer-in-training, which involves working under the supervision of a licensed engineer.



How to Get Licensed

Licensing requirements typically involve completion of an engineering degree, completion of a set number of supervised working hours, and passing an exam. However, these requirements can vary, so please contact your provincial/territorial/state engineering association for full details on becoming licensed.



How Can I Prepare in High School?

Developing your skills in the areas of mechanics, science and technology while you’re still a high school student is a great way to get a head start in this profession. Excelling in coursework related to physics, math, chemistry, design studies and mechanical trades will serve as excellent preparation for this career, and help you qualify for engineering degree programs.



Should I Become a Packaging Engineer?

No matter what stage of your career development you’re at, you should have the following attributes if you hope to one day become a packaging engineer:


• You have natural aptitude in math and science

• You have a keen interest in packaging materials and systems

• You can objectively weigh the benefits and shortfalls of 

• You enjoy solving complex problems

• You’re fulfilled by work that involves being innovative

• You like the idea of working with colleagues in different departments to get things done

• You’re interested in the idea of having a well-paying career with many advancement options



What is the Salary of a Packaging Engineer?

Salary in the United States: Packaging Engineers are part of the occupational group “Industrial Engineers”. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in this group earn a median salary of $83,470 per year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $53,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $126,920.


Salary in Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the “Industrial and Manufacturing Engineers” occupational group (to which “Packaging Engineers” belong) earn a median starting wage of $37.98 per hour, and an overall median wage of $57.59 per hour. 



What Can Influence My Salary Level?

The salary level you could earn as a packaging engineer can vary quite a bit, and typically depends on the following factors:


• Your level of education, experience and certification

• The level of responsibility involved in your job

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The industry in which you work

• Many other factors



Who Creates Jobs for Packaging Engineers?

The types of organizations that hire packaging designers typically include:


• Materials and packaging research laboratories 

• Packaging supply and engineering firms

• Engineering consulting firms

• Companies that manufacture retail, commercial, industrial or institutional goods 

• Companies that distribute or transport various goods

• Colleges and universities 



Packaging Engineer Jobs

Our job board below has "Packaging Engineer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

What Career Advancement Opportunities Are There?

If you demonstrate a strong work ethic, dedication, competence, and an interest in continuously challenging yourself professionally, plenty of diverse opportunities to advance into roles of greater responsibility and pay as you gain experience will come your way.


For example, with enough experience you would move on to more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions. You could also move into supervisory or management roles, such as Project Engineer.


As you become more familiar with the various stages and scopes of packaging engineering projects, you could potentially become a Quality Assurance Engineer, or a highly valued specialist in a specific area of packaging engineering.


Alternatively, you could choose to work in an outside field related to package engineering, such as business development, sales, purchasing, structure design, manufacturing management, or marketing.


Choosing to Become a Specialist? Success Tip: Obtaining a master’s degree facilitates specialization in an area of packaging engineering, and thus career advancement.



What are Careers Similar to “Packaging Engineer”?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “Packaging Engineer”:


• Food Packaging Specialist

• Industrial Designer

• Industrial Engineer

• Manufacturing Engineer

• Marketing Consultant

• Materials Planner

• Mechanical Engineer



What Scholarships Are There for Packaging Engineers? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming a Packaging Engineer. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Any Field of Study Scholarships” page.


Success Tip: 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!




Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become a packaging engineer:


• Occupational Profile: “Industrial Engineer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 7, 2020.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Industrial Engineer.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved March 7, 2017.

• Other Cool Things: “How to become a packaging engineer.” (December 11, 2015). Packaging Innovation. Retrieved March 7, 2017.

• Career Services: “What Can I Do With a Major in Packaging Engineering?” (n.d.). Christian Brothers University. Retrieved March 7, 2017.


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



Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a packaging engineer. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


Top Banner Image: