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How to Become a Package Designer: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a package designer. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in package design. View article »

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  • 0:03 Should I Become a…
  • 0:41 Career Requirements
  • 1:25 Step 1: Bachelor's Degree
  • 2:45 Step 2: Get Experience
  • 3:36 Step 3: Consider…

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Package Designer?

Package designers make product cases and packaging look aesthetically pleasing in order to attract customers. Package designers may work as independent contractors, or they can find jobs with a corporate design staff or firm. Some of an independent contractor's' time might be used looking for new customers. Work hours often depend on deadlines and current workload.

Entry-level positions typically require a bachelor's degree in graphic design. A portfolio highlighting a job applicant's best samples is advantageous when seeking employment.

Career Requirements

As mentioned before, package designers should seek a bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field. Either way, package designers will want to have artistic, creative, communication and teamwork skills; ability to meet tight deadlines; and proficiency with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign Microsoft Word, Excel, Entourage and Powerpoint.

Some entry-level jobs don't require experience; however, a few employers request up to eight years experience for advanced positions. The median salary for package designers was $47,372 per year in 2017.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most entry-level jobs related to graphic design, such as packaging design, require bachelor's degrees in graphic design (www.bls.gov). Some schools offer programs specific to package design, though these programs are not common.

Typical coursework in graphic design programs covers typography design, digital photography, 3-D design, illustration, multimedia, web design and figure drawing. Many programs have an internship requirement, allowing students to gain practical experience in the field.

Success Tips:

  • Develop a portfolio. A student's portfolio should be a collection of pieces that demonstrate the student's creativity, talent, technical skill, originality and artistic process. Some programs provide courses specifically for portfolio work. Potential employers may require a comprehensive portfolio.
  • Get involved with a student group. By participating in a design club, graphic design students get to interact with peers in their major. In a design club, students collaborate on projects and work on a team with classmates. Connections formed with other students may prove valuable when networking in the future.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Advertising and Commercial Design
  • Commercial Photography
  • Fashion Design
  • General Visual Communications Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration and Drawing
  • Industrial Design
  • Interior Design and Decorating

Step 2: Get Experience

Package designer positions are available at design firms or at corporations with an in-house design staff. Package designers can also work on a freelance basis. Designers create package layouts for a variety of products, including beverages, cosmetics, toys, apparel and food. After accumulating five or more years experience, designers may advance to senior designer positions.

Success Tip:

  • Join a professional organization. Designers working to establish themselves in the industry may find it helpful to become a member of a professional organization, such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). Member benefits include networking opportunities, professional development programs, and job-searching resources.

Step 3: Consider Graduate School

Package designers seeking advanced training may consider entering a master's degree program in graphic design. A master's degree isn't necessary to enter this field; however, these programs do exist and may assist in career advancement. The programs consist of package design courses like cosmetics packaging, electronic media, marketing, logo design and food packaging.

Most programs include directed research that allows students to work on individual projects or thesis planning under faculty supervision. A creative thesis, which involves producing a body of work, may also be required. The master's degree generally takes two to three years to complete.

To recap, package designers make product cases and packaging look aesthetically pleasing in order to attract customers. You should look into earning a bachelor's degree in graphic design and consider a master's degree in graphic design for career advancement. To be a good package designer, you'll want skills in art, creativity, communication, and computer design programs.

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