Approximately 362,440 industrial machinery mechanics are employed in the United States. Packaging machinery technicians work for companies that manufacture packaging machinery or for companies that package the products they produce. Packaging is one of the largest industries in the United States so jobs are plentiful across the country, in small towns and large cities. Opportunities in the packaging field can be found in almost any company that produces and packages a product. Food, chemicals, cosmetics, electronics, pharmaceuticals, automotive parts, hardware, plastics, and almost any products one can think of need to be packaged before reaching the consumer market. Because of this diversity, jobs are not restricted to any product, geographic location, or plant size.
If you are enrolled in a technical program you may find job leads through your school's career services office. Many jobs in packaging are unadvertised—you can only find out about them through contacts with professionals in the industry. You can also learn about openings from teachers, school administrators, and industry contacts acquired during training.
You can apply directly to machinery manufacturing companies or companies with manufacturing departments. Local employment offices may list job openings. Sometimes companies hire part-time or summer help in other departments, such as the warehouse or shipping. These jobs may provide an opportunity to move into other areas of the company.
Technicians usually begin in entry-level positions and work as part of an engineering team. They may advance from a maintenance technician to an assembler, and then move up to a supervisory position in production operations or packaging machinery. They can also become project managers and field service managers.
Workers who show an interest in their work, who learn quickly, and have good technical skills can gradually take on more responsibilities and advance to higher positions. The ability to inspire team spirit and communicate well with others, plus self-motivation and the ability to work with little supervision, are all helpful traits for advancement. People who have skills as a packaging machinery technician can usually transfer those skills to engineering technician positions in other industries.
Some packaging machinery technicians pursue additional education such as a bachelor's degree to qualify as an engineer and move into packaging engineering or industrial engineering positions. Other technicians pursue business, economics, and finance degrees and use these credentials to obtain positions in other areas of the manufacturing process, in business development, or in areas such as importing or exporting.
Join one of the college student chapters of the Institute of Packaging Profesionals (IoPP). To find a chapter near you, visit https://www.iopp.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=2731.
Get certified by the IoPP. For more details, go to https://www.iopp.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=60.
Online education is available for packaging professionals. Go to https://www.iopp.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=2988 to learn what classes are available.