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