Undergraduate Degrees in Industrial Design: Options and Information
While industrial design programs are not typically available at the associate level, Associate of Applied Science programs in industrial design technology may be available. These programs can include topics like computer-aided design and manufacturing materials. Bachelor of Industrial Design programs, which focus more on product design and model making, are available at a large variety of universities.
Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Design Technology
A 2-year program in this subject can offer a student the opportunity to design, develop and produce products and parts in a hands-on environment. Students may learn to rethink how manufactured products are constructed, taking into account production procedures, aesthetics and ease of use for the consumer or client. Applicants are typically required to have completed high school or the equivalent.
Associate degree programs can instill in students both with fundamental concepts and technical competency in the field. Programs could include courses like:
- Computer-aided design
- Computer numerical controls
- Manufacturing materials
- Part modeling
- Mechanical design
- Commercial building design
- Engineering structures
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 28,670 commercial and industrial designers and 61,630 industrial engineering technicians as of May 2010 (www.bls.gov). Program graduates were qualified to work for engineering firms, construction companies, government agencies, hospitals, utility companies and consulting firms catering to the industrial design field. Associate program graduates have found employment as:
- Computer-aided design workstation operators
- Engineering technicians
- Technical assistants
Certification in computer-aided design programs - like SolidWorks - is available through independent organizations. Earning the Certified SolidWorks Associate credential requires applicants to pass a 3-hour exam that covers sketching, fill patterns, dimensions and reference geometry.
The Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering offers various certifications in the field. Certified professionals are required to earn a certain amount of professional development - also known as continuing education - credits in order to earn recertification.
Bachelor of Industrial Design
Industrial designers can be responsible for designing a wide variety of products, including such a variety of items as toys, automobiles and medical equipment. Professionals in this field may be responsible for choosing the proper materials and designs for both the functionality and aesthetics of the product. These 4-year programs offer coursework in creative thinking, product functionality and research methods. Applicants are required to be high school graduates or to hold the equivalent credentials.
Students can learn to base design decisions on factors like a material's availability, cost, the ease of manufacturing and human frustration with using a certain type of product. Programs can require students to complete a mandatory amount of studio time, create portfolios and complete coursework in subjects like:
- Professional practices
- Manufacturing processes
- Mechanical functionality
- Concept design
- Digital model design
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the 2008 BLS reports, commercial and industrial design jobs were projected to grow nine percent from 2008-2018. In 2010, the BLS reported that commercial and industrial designers took home an annual median wage of $58,230.
Industrial design programs are also available at the Master of Industrial Design level. Doctoral coursework in industrial design is available through a variety of programs, like architecture programs and computer engineering programs concerned with designing for human interaction.
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