Packaging Operator Job Description
Packaging operators use machines to ensure that manufactured products are safely prepared and moved for transport. The machines they operate can sort, weigh, and seal a variety of items. Packaging operators most often work for manufacturing and delivery companies. Assembling packages, securing items, creating protective seals, and sharing production updates with supervisors are common tasks that operators complete. Their vigilant eye prevents damage to goods during the manufacturing process. In addition to a keen eye, packaging operators need physical stamina to avoid accidents. Most packaging operators work full time, and many work long 12-hour shifts and extended hours and overtime as required.
Packaging Operator Duties and Qualifications
No two packaging operators are exactly alike, since specific skills vary from employer to employer. However, after analyzing various online job postings, we identified several core duties and responsibilities common to the job:
Operate Product-Packaging Equipment
Running product-packaging equipment is a key responsibility of packaging operators. They are in charge of basic start up and set up at the beginning of the day. They also turn off machines at the end of a shift. They ensure that equipment runs properly according to company guidelines.
Sort and Weight Products
Packaging operators use machines to sort and weigh products after package sealing is over. They double check to make sure no errors have been made, and apply the correct labeling to each product. In some cases, they sort raw materials prior to packaging.
Conduct Product Quality Control Checks
Conducting product line quality control inspections is a critical task of packaging operators. They check for machine parts and equipment challenges. Packaging operators also collect samples to evaluate packaging integrity and functionality. They segregate any defective material and record inspection results. When problems arise, they report malfunctions to supervisory staff immediately. Their job is to communicate any quality control issues to minimize rework costs.
Perform Administrative Work and Training
Packaging operators fill out administrative paperwork at the end of their shift, ensuring that all information is entered correctly. When needed, they complete paperwork and other administrative tasks. Packaging operators also train new hires on the processes of equipment operation.
Oversee Product Transfers
Once materials are packaged, packaging operators help transfer them to their final shipping area. They keep products organized to help execute processes such as handling material, applying inserts, and stacking. They work with shipping crews to get materials to their final destination.
Packaging Operator Skills and Qualifications
Packing machine operators have excellent mechanical and troubleshooting skills. Employers typically look for candidates with a high school diploma and at least two years of machine or manufacturing experience. The following skills are essential to getting the job done:
- Mechanical skills – since packaging operators run machinery as a primary part of their job, they need strong mechanical skills
- Dexterity – packaging operators specifically need excellent finger dexterity and hand-eye coordination to perform their job well
- Equipment maintenance – preventative maintenance is a critical task that packaging operators perform regularly
- Troubleshooting – when production-related issues arise, packaging operators serve as frontline troubleshooters to resolve them quickly
- Physical fitness – packaging operators need the physical stamina to stand for hours at a time and operate heavy machinery without getting fatigued or distracted
- Administrative skills – packaging operators handle minor administrative tasks and record needed paperwork
- Communication skills – packing operators use written and verbal communication to update relevant documentation and share needed information with superiors and peers
Tools of the Trade
Packaging operators are comfortable using the following tools and equipment in a typical workday:
- Packaging equipment
- Securing tools (staples, fasteners, etc.)
Packaging Operator Education and Training
It is common for packaging operators to have a high school diploma. Employers find candidates who have an associate’s degree and at least two years of relevant experience especially attractive. Most packaging operators complete apprenticeships that teach them the basic skills of the trade.
Packaging Operator Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary of packaging operators is $29,430. The lowest 10 percent of earners make less than $29,350, while the highest 10 percent of earners make more than $48,550. Industry employment of packaging operators is projected to grow 2 percent through 2026. The BLS notes that this rate of growth is slower than average for all occupations.
We searched the web for the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a packaging operator. Here are more ways to learn whether becoming one is right for you:
Independent Packaging Association – IPA is a national organization representing over 250 manufacturers that work with packaging operators to get the job done
Principles of Machine Operation and Maintenance – learn how machinery works and develop the skills needed to diagnose and troubleshoot typical equipment problems with this book
Packaging and Filling Machine Operator and Tender Career: The Insider’s Guide to Finding a Job at an Amazing Firm, Acing the Interview and Getting Promoted – this simple, easy-to-understand book covers tips you need to win your dream packaging operator job and be the first in line for a promotion
International Corrugated Packaging Foundation – ICPF is a global organization offering career resources for aspiring packaging operators. Access job listings, internship opportunities, and more from top firms in the industry
National Association of Manufacturers – the largest manufacturing association in the United States, NAM advocates on behalf of the more than 12 million men and women employed in the sector
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