Industrial designers develop the plans for a variety of devices, ranging from appliances to cars. Students can pursue an Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Design Technology degree that prepares them to become industrial design technicians, or they can pursue a Bachelor of Industrial Design and train to become industrial designers. Applicants to either program need to have a high school diploma or the equivalent. The 4-year bachelor degree programs offer coursework in creative thinking, product functionality and research methods. Other requirements include mandatory studio time and portfolio completion. Associate degrees cover manufacturing materials, mechanical design and engineering structures.
Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Design Technology
This 2-year program teaches students to rethink how manufactured products are constructed, taking into account production procedures, aesthetics and ease of use for the consumer or client. Associate degree programs can instill in students both with fundamental concepts and technical competency in the field. Programs could include courses like the following:
- Computer-aided design
- Computer numerical controls
- Part modeling
- Commercial building design
Bachelor of Industrial Design
Industrial designers are responsible for designing several products like 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. Bachelor's programs in industrial design can require students to complete coursework in subjects like:
- Professional practices
- Manufacturing processes
- Mechanical functionality
- Concept design
- Digital model design
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 38,400 commercial and industrial designers and 66,500 industrial engineering technicians as of May 2014 (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
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to BLS reports, commercial and industrial design jobs were projected to decline by 1% from 2018-2028. In May 2018, the BLS reported that commercial and industrial designers took home an annual mean wage of $71,430.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
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.
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.
Students who earn an undergraduate degree in industrial design will study topics such as statistics, part modeling and computer-aided design. When students graduate, they can go on to work as engineering technicians or technical assistants.