4 reasons to consider a career in packaging

Whatever your skills and interests, there’s probably a place for you in this dynamic industry.

4 reasons to consider a career in packaging

Experts describe the $400 billion global packaging industry as innovative, stable and creative. It might not be one you’ve considered working in, but the packaging industry needs people at every level, from the production line to management, and can use just about any skill you might have.

Here are four reasons to consider a career in the packaging industry.

It’s stable

The packaging industry remains relatively stable despite economic ups and downs because there’s always a need for packaging, says Maria Ferrante, vice president of education and workforce development at PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. According to Smithers Pira, the global packaging industry is expected to grow in coming years, fueled by a growing consumer class in some markets.

Within that constant need, there may be fluctuations in specific types of packaging. For example, when consumers are busy, they look for on-the-go meals, which affects the packaging needed. With higher end goods, such as electronics, retailers are concerned about theft, so packaging focuses more on theft reduction than consumer convenience, Ferrante says.

It needs a wide variety of employees

The package design and development side of the industry needs graphic designers, marketing professionals, food scientists and packaging design engineers, Ferrante says. The production side needs engineers who design and develop packaging machines, assembly and production technicians who build the machines, and service technicians who install, train and maintain the equipment at customer sites.

According to Arjun Dutt, senior business intelligence consultant at Fieldglass, below are a few other key positions:

It’s innovative and needs creative ideas

Packaging is the billboard for a product and its brand, Dan Donofrio, vice president of operations at HAVI Global Solutions.

This industry “affords near limitless creativity for marketers and package designers to apply branding and graphics to sell the product inside,” he adds. “As packaging materials continue to evolve, the industry will present new opportunities for professionals all along the packaging value chain.”

Ferrante says the latest challenge is the trend toward online purchasing. Packaging for store shelves focuses on appeal, but packaging for delivery focuses on stability.

“As these demands change, so do the manufacturing demands of these packages,” she says. “Retailers want unique package configurations just for them, creating a need for more flexible manufacturing. This trend requires more sophisticated systems, highly automated using robots to move and sort cases and cartons appropriately.”

There’s opportunity

According to a 2013 PMMI compensation report, the industry’s top-paid hourly positions all pay more than $20 an hour on average, and even the lowest-paid positions average around $13 an hour. The majority of companies that responded said they offered 401(k) plans as well, and management and executive positions may be eligible for bonuses.

“Anyone working within the packaging industry should expect constant evolution and growth,” Donofrio says. “As lifestyles change, materials evolve and the race for branding and marketing continues, the packaging industry adapts. It is a very dynamic, fast-paced marketplace.”

“It’s a robust field,” Dutt says. “For employees seeking to work in the industry, the possibilities are endless.”