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Packaging technologists are responsible for the design, development and manufacture of packaging for a range of products.

Their main role is to create new packaging products in response to briefs.

What does a packaging technologist do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Packaging technologists work on packaging ideas for food and drink, cosmetics, toiletries and lots more.

Specific job responsibilities vary, but generally include:

  • generating new packaging products in response to briefs
  • ensuring that packaging products meet set requirements and specifications
  • producing samples to try out different materials and designs
  • liaising with marketing, purchasing and production staff
  • identifying opportunities to reduce costs while maintaining quality
  • running trials to check packaging for suitability and testing for performance under various conditions
  • controlling production and quality standards, including reporting packaging that doesn't meet these
  • evaluating, selecting and negotiating with suppliers
  • identifying and choosing products from suppliers
  • writing reports
  • keeping up to date with technological innovations.

There are opportunities for advancement into senior technologist or managerial positions, providing that employees are able to change employer or relocate if necessary.

Typical employers of packaging technologists

  • manufacturing companies
  • pharmaceutical companies
  • retailers
  • packaging producers
  • packaging converters.

Opportunities are advertised by careers services and recruitment agencies, online and in a variety of publications such as New Scientist, Packaging News, Chemistry World, and Packaging Today – along with their online equivalents. Early applications to larger employers are advisable. Speculative applications are also recommended.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into a career in packaging technology for both university graduates and school leavers. Graduates will need a degree in an appropriate technical, scientific or engineering subject such as graphic design, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, production or manufacturing engineering, materials sciences and life, medical or physical sciences.

A postgraduate packaging technology qualification can be beneficial, particularly for candidates without a directly relevant first degree. The Packaging Society also offers a diploma in packaging technology via part-time and distance learning courses. As a result of the pandemic, the first week of this will be held virtually for everyone – whereas for the later weeks, in April and May, there may be a return to the format signed up for. Read our article on scientific postgraduate study to explore your different options.

Candidates who have relevant work experience are often at an advantage. Experience gained through employment as a technician or in product development, manufacturing, process, or quality control work can be valuable.

Key skills for packaging technologists

  • excellent communication skills
  • design skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • good attention to detail
  • technical skills
  • innovation
  • good teamworking abilities.

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