Packaging Engineer

What They Do

Insider Info

Think of all the choices a typical grocery store offers. The availability of those products is made possible by packaging engineers. They also make sure that all other items (like computers, CDs and medical supplies) travel safely from the manufacturer to the consumer. You wouldn't have many of the items, both necessities and conveniences, that you now enjoy without the science of packaging!

"The typical grocery store will have approximately 18,000 different products to choose from, and it never occurs to anyone that someone has to design every one of those packages," says Walter Soroka. He is a packaging consultant and author of Fundamentals of Packaging Technology.

There are two basic kinds of packaging engineers. "Some specialize in packaging materials, and they tend to be in research and product development," says Dave Newcorn, senior editor of Packaging World Magazine. "There's another kind of packaging engineer who works with packaging machinery."

Packaging engineers in research and development design packaging for every type of product imaginable, from produce to electronics. They design packages that will protect the product for as long as possible and for the least amount of money.

Those who work with machinery choose the best equipment and software to make sure a packaging system is running as efficiently as possible.

Not only do they have to make sure a product is packaged inexpensively and safely, but they also must keep environmental concerns in mind.

Packaging engineers are also sometimes called packaging scientists or packaging technicians.

Those who specialize in research and development work in a corporate setting, while those who specialize in packaging machinery usually work out of an office within a plant.

"The type of industry determines whether it's a 9-to-5 job," says Soroka. "In most cases, it's not."

Packaging engineers are employed by every industry imaginable, from cosmetics to candy, so it depends on your particular situation.

JoAnn Hines is the executive editor of Women in Packaging. "When you come up with an innovative concept, you're trying to get it out the door to beat the competition," she says. This sometimes translates into extra time on the job.

An average level of physical fitness may be required in many packaging jobs.

At a Glance

Design the packages that protect consumer goods

  • You can work in research or with machinery
  • Packaging engineers are employed by every industry imaginable
  • You'll need an engineering degree