Packaging designers create designs for containers such as bottles, cartons and boxes. As well as having design skills, packaging designers also need knowledge of packaging materials and processes.
Also known as
- Designer, Packaging
As a Packaging Designer, you will create designs for all forms of packaging including bottles, packets, cartons and boxes.
You work on your ideas using design tools such as pens, paints, and design-related computer software. The shape, colour and message on an item's package all need to be taken into consideration.
Once you have an idea of what your client requires (usually in the form of a brief), you make a series of rough sketches, the best of which are refined and presented to the client for approval.
Packaging Designers may also have to research the market to see what type of designs already exist, as well as research the type of customers who might buy the product. It's important that the package and the message on the package communicates what is inside, and entices people to buy it.
When the best ideas have been chosen, you make models to see what your design looks like before it is finalised, and before production begins. You usually work in two-dimensional and three-dimensional design.
You need to be aware of regulations relating to the packaging you are working on. For example:
- labelling and size requirements
- waste and environmental regulations
- copyright, patent and trademark legislations
- health and safety
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Packaging Designer, you need:
- knowledge of a wide range of packaging materials, such as tin, glass, plastic and card
- an awareness of how designs affect the environment, such as when packaging is thrown away
- knowledge of design-related computer software
- to be creative and think of new ideas
- problem-solving skills
- to keep up to date with new design developments
- good communication, presentation and negotiation skills
- good organisation and planning skills
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £24,000 - £25,000
- With experience: £26,500 - £31,000
- Senior Packaging Designers earn £33,000 - £35,500
Hours of work
Packaging Designers usually work 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday. However, late finishes and weekend work may be required, especially as deadlines approach.
Where could I work?
Employers are manufacturing companies (as part of an in-house design team), or you could work for a design consultancy. It may also be possible to work for a manufacturing company that specialises in packaging design.
Opportunities for Packaging Designers occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Opportunities occur for experienced Packaging Designers in consultancy and fixed-term contract work. You can obtain this work through specialist recruitment agencies.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in design industry magazines/journals, on all the major job boards, on Find a Job, and at Jobcentre Plus.
It's a good idea to build up a network of relevant contacts as not all design jobs are advertised. Making speculative job applications can also be effective.
Entry Routes and Training
A common route into this career is from a foundation course in art and design followed by a degree, HNC, HND or foundation degree in a subject like graphic design, product design or three-dimensional design. Some of these courses may have options in packaging design.
An Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also a great place to start. Take a look at our information article
BTEC level 3 qualifications are available in relevant subjects and are a great vocational alternative to A Levels.
A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article '
Training will mainly be on-the-job.
The Packaging Society provides information on relevant training options.
Skills gained as an Assistant in a design studio or workshop, or in a design consultancy are valued. Experience in related fields, such as advertising or marketing, is also useful. Commercial awareness and an understanding of the packaging industry is an advantage.
With experience, it may be possible to move into managerial positions. There may also be opportunities to go into the consulting side of the industry.
The usual entry requirements for a relevant foundation course are:
- 1/2 A levels where you'll need an A level in art or in an art-based subject
- GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 4/5 subjects where some courses ask that you have a pass in English
Alternatives to A levels include:
- BTEC level 3 qualification
- a design Advanced Level Apprenticeship
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma
To enter any course in art and design, you'll need a portfolio of your work.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Skills gained as an assistant in a design studio or workshop, or in a design consultancy are valued. Experience in related fields, such as advertising or marketing, is also useful. Commercial awareness and an understanding of the packaging industry is an advantage.
To enter this career or relevant courses, you need to have a portfolio of work demonstrating your creative ability.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Art and Design) could be the way in. No formal qualifications are usually required, but you should check individual course details.
They can lead to relevant degree/HND courses.
It's also possible to do a part-time Art Foundation course, which leads to a degree or HND course. Higher National Certificate (HNC) courses are also available part-time, often in the evenings and/or in the daytime.
Universities and colleges of higher education (HE) will usually consider applications from candidates who don't meet their usual entry requirements, especially those with experience in arts, crafts or design. You should check the admissions policy of individual universities and HE colleges.
The University of Hertfordshire offers an MA/PgD/PgC in Graphic Design by distance learning.
The Packaging Society offers a Certificate in Packaging (4-day attendance and online study), and a Diploma in Packaging, (intensive 15-day course by attendance or by online study).
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Skills for the creative industries
Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills
Creative & Cultural Skills
Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts
Chartered Society of Designers (CSD)
Getting into Art & Design Courses
Author: James Burnett Publisher: Trotman
Design and Art Direction (D&AD)
Address: Britannia House, 68-80 Hanbury Street, London E1 5JL
Tel: 020 7840 1111
Harrison Scott Associates
Recruitment in printing, packaging and paper industries
A division of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3)
Address: Eccelston House, Bell Meadow Business Park, Park Lane, Chester CH4 9EP
Tel: 01244 572172
Packaging Federation (PF)
Address: 8th Floor, 64 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QP
Tel: 020 7808 7217
Paper Industry Technical Association (PITA)
Address: 5 Frecheville Court, Bury, Lancashire BL9 0UF
Tel: 0161 7645858