When browsing the shelves at a local store, what’s the first thing you generally notice about a product? Maybe the colorful box it comes in or the informative plastic wrapping? The right packaging can boost any product’s appeal, and designing that packaging can make for an inspiring career.
Package designers are responsible for drawing the customer’s attention while relaying important information and giving the item its purchasing power. But a package designer needs more than just savvy design skills. Collaboration is key to their job. They work closely with clients and marketing teams to ensure the company’s product and brand are well represented through the packaging materials. And to create prototypes that are cost-effective, sustainable and safe for customers, they need to team up with accounting professionals, engineers and consumer safety stakeholders to ensure all needs are met.
Here’s a look at the typical job description and salary expectations for a package designer.
Package designer salary benchmarks
Explore the Robert Half Salary Guide to find the midpoint starting salary for a package designer in the U.S. Salaries can differ wildly in various parts of the country, so use the guide to determine fair compensation for a product designer in your city.
Package designer duties and expectations
A package designer guides the design process from beginning to end. They conceptualize, design and execute a prototype for attention-grabbing packaging materials, using design elements such as shape, color, graphics and typography to create packaging that is functional and appealing to customers.
In most cases, the following responsibilities can be expected:
- Leads the design process for packaging materials for products, including brainstorming, sketching and creating prototypes
- Works with clients to understand their needs
- Evaluates consumer and market trends for packaging materials
- Collaborates with marketing and creative teams, especially graphic designers and copywriters, to create eye-catching designs
- Presents designs to clients and stakeholders using sketches and design software; ensures successful representation of clients’ brands
- Redesigns prototypes based on feedback from clients, engineers and consumer safety groups
Professional experience and skills
“It goes without saying for any design role, employers want someone with a good design aesthetic, strong technical chops and the ability to think conceptually,” says Karin Katselis, a senior vice-president of The Creative Group. “That’s no different when it comes to the world of package design. Hiring managers seek designers who can think dimensionally, bring a concept to life and tell a story.”
Experience with package design, including creating dielines and prototypes, is a must for a package designer position. This person must have a strong portfolio with a variety of samples that demonstrates their creativity, attention to detail and knowledge of market and consumer trends. Familiarity with different packaging materials is helpful. A bachelor’s degree in graphic design or industrial design may be preferred, and successful candidates have a strong knowledge of creative tools, including Adobe Creative Suite, 3D software programs and photography.
Due to the nature of their work, package designers must be very organized and able to meet tight deadlines. They must also have strong problem-solving skills to quickly identify and rectify mistakes. Package designers also require input and assistance from several different groups, so strong interpersonal abilities and project management skills are helpful. This combination of skills allows a package designer to create functional, yet creative and unique materials that engage the customer.
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