A packaging specialist occupation, also known by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics formally as Packaging and Filling Machine Operators and Tenders, is usually an assembly-line production position. The materials packed vary widely, although companies that produce or package food items, medicines, tobacco products and beverages employ some of the highest numbers of packaging specialists. Submitting an application for employment at any company that produces items that must be packaged is the first step to become a packaging specialist. After hiring, a new employee is often assigned to a more seasoned company employee who will monitor his work quality and production quantity. This period of on-the-job training is often the only training necessary to become a packaging specialist.
Assembly-line packaging specialists are responsible for running their machines, producing a minimum number of packages of acceptable quality and removing products that do not meet quality control guidelines. The variety of products manufactured and packaged means that an employee training to become a packaging specialist must become adept at filling and closing the containers that package his or her company's products, such as burlap bags, heavy paper bags, plastic bags, cigarette cartons or cereal boxes. Although a packaging machine or filler is usually operated by one person, the packaging specialist does not work independently and must time his work to keep the overall production line running smoothly. Depending upon the company and the specific plant, an employee may be required to become a packaging specialist for a variety of items.
The growth of parcel shipping companies has provided another means to become a packaging specialist. Generally, those sending the item are the only ones involved in packing it appropriately. Some shipping companies, however, have begun to offer this service prior to shipping and delivering items. These types of packaging specialist positions are not assembly line positions, but vary widely by customer needs. The training involved to become a packaging specialist in these companies is usually longer and more detailed in order to cover as many options as possible while following specific company guidelines.
Regardless of what type of packaging specialist position is sought, a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate is usually the minimum amount of education required to become a packaging specialist. In the US, the highest numbers of jobs of this kind are located in the states of California, Texas and Pennsylvania. There is little job growth anticipated in this field and the number of positions is expected to remain relatively static.