Packaging is the planning, creating, manufacturing, wrapping, boxing, or bottling of goods for consumer, industrial, and military markets. The packaging industry, in fact, plays a role in nearly all of the industries and manufacturing establishments in the United States. Packaging is one of the United States' largest employers, requiring professionals and specialists from fields such as mechanical and electrical engineering, physical and organic chemistry, food technology, sales, communications, marketing, production, printing, and graphic design.
Among the careers available in this industry are packaging designers and graphic designers, who create an appealing package from the prototype that will be used as the final marketing link between the item inside and the potential consumer. The most common types of packaging are those made of paper and board or rigid plastic.
Once the package design is complete, engineers who are experts in industrial, mechanical, or electrical engineering determine how to efficiently and economically produce the package in mass quantities. As packaging machines have become more automated and packaging operations more complex, the use of industrial engineers trained specifically in packaging operations has increased. Computer specialists and data processing staffs play important roles, and computers have become critical in solving complex problems in packaging design. Other industry employees include packaging machinery technicians who assist engineers and production workers who assemble machinery and monitor its operation.
Salespeople sell the packaging materials or packaging machines to manufacturing companies. Many supply firms employ specialists who can assist the salespeople, including experts in printing, graphic arts, and structural packaging design. Basic manufacturers of raw materials, such as plastic resins and metal sheet and foil, also employ packaging technologists to assist their customers.
In 2018, the U.S. packaging industry generated approximately $170 billion in revenue, according to the market research group Statista. Solid growth in the packaging industry is expected in the coming years, with specialized engineers who can solve specific problems while understanding the total packaging concept as well as those able to devise more efficient and environmentally friendly packaging. The introduction of computers, robotics, fiber optics, and vision systems into the industry has added new skill requirements and job opportunities for workers in the packaging industry.
- Chemical Engineers
- Computer-Aided Design Drafters and Technicians
- Electrical and Electronics Engineers
- Engineering Technicians
- Graphic Designers
- Industrial Designers
- Manufacturing Supervisors
- Mechanical Engineering Technicians
- Mechanical Engineers
- Packaging Engineers
- Packaging Machinery Technicians
- Product Development Directors
- Product Management Directors
- Product Managers
- Quality Control Engineers and Technicians
- Robotics Engineers and Technicians
- Sales Managers