Packaging Designer: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a packaging designer. Learn about job responsibilities, education and skill requirements, and median wages to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Packaging Designer?

A packaging designer uses skills in graphic design to help make a product appealing to potential buyers through its packaging. Their duties might include selecting typefaces, colors, and illustrations for the packaging. They use digital illustration and layout computer software to draft and create designs. Package designers may also make prototypes of potential designs to present to clients. A large part of their job is coordinating and communicating with their clients to make sure the client's goals are realized. The following chart gives you an overview about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree at minimum
Education Field of Study Graphic design or similar field
Skills Required Awareness of the connections between marketing and people, culture, branding strategies, trends and environmental sustainability; knowledge of color, graphics and typography
Key Responsibilities Determine client needs, determine the product's message, devise functional and attractive packaging
Job Growth (2014-2024) 1% (for all graphic designers)*
Median Salary (2015) $46,900 (for all graphic designers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Packaging Designer Do?

A packaging designer is a type of graphic designer who creates packaging that attracts the eyes of consumers and preserves products. Packaging makes physical and emotional connections with consumers and helps to market a product. As a packaging designer, you need to determine what the client needs from your packaging, the message that the packaging will send and who will use the product. Packaging design promotes the product and its function, and makes the brand stand out from other brands on the shelf.

You'll use design principles, along with an understanding of the raw materials and machinery of the manufacturing processes, to devise functional and attractive packaging. This position requires you to have an awareness of the connections between marketing and people, culture, branding strategies, trends and environmental sustainability. The color, graphics and typography you choose all affect the buying decisions of the consumers. You may design packaging for a number of types of products, from food to toys to beauty products.

What Should I Study?

To become a packaging designer, you might enroll in a bachelor's degree program in packaging design or graphic design. As part of your program, you could study brand development, typography, packaging materials, computer graphics and sustainable design. A bachelor's degree program would immerse you in the development processes of diverse types of packaging, taking you from the initial idea to a prototype or comprehensive that can be presented to clients or employers for approval. Your program may also require or encourage you to complete an internship and develop a portfolio. Graduate programs are available if you want to gain a deeper knowledge of design, brand development, marketing and communications.

How Much Might I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for graphic designers, a category that includes packaging designers, was $46,900 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The top ten percent of graphic designers earned $81,320 or more, while the bottom ten percent earned $27,560 or less.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those interested in designing packaging might also want to look into some related careers which require a similar level of formal education. For example, industrial designers need to have a bachelor's degree in a related field. They develop ideas for a variety of products, from cars to toys, and consider the look, function, and costs of the product. Drafters only need to have an associate's degree to gain entry-level employment. They use software to create technical drawings from the concepts designed by architects. Art directors work in a variety of fields, from newspapers to product packaging, to come up with the overall look of a product. Art directors generally have a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:

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  • The Art Institutes

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  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

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  • Penn Foster High School

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  • CDI College

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    • Anywhere: Edmonton, Montreal, Point Claire
  • Howard University

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    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
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    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
  • University of Pennsylvania

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    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia