Design technology is used in architecture, construction, engineering and video game graphic design. The field involves the development of ideas from rough sketches and basic design layouts to working maps, models, drawings and illustrations.
Individuals can study design technology as part of a certificate, an associate's degree, or a bachelors degree. Accelerated certificate programs take as little as one semester to complete, while longer certificate programs take up to one year to complete. An associate's degree usually takes two years to complete. Applicants to design technology problems, regardless of level, must have a high school diploma.
Certificate in Computer-Aided Design
Students prepare for entry-level positions in design technology by learning to create 2D drawings for applications in architecture, interior design, construction, mechanical engineering and other industries. Certificate programs teach students about drawings, 2D editing tools, basic plotting, incorporating text, layers, layouts, navigation techniques and viewports. Prospective CAD technicians learn to organize and visually represent information.
Common coursework includes:
- Basic mathematics
- Desktop publishing
- Technical drafting
- Technical illustrations
- Two-dimensional design
Associate's Degree in Computer-Aided Design
Associate degree programs teach students to use CAD programs to create technical drawings to specifications, including parts lists and special graphics. Students learn freehand sketching, geometric construction principles, creation of orthographic projections and floor plan assembly drawings. Programs delve into the theory behind graphics, as well as to teach 3D drafting. Associate degree students are able to tailor their education by learning about the mechanical processes and theories for a specific industry.
General design technology coursework includes:
- 3D CAD
- Descriptive geometry
- Technical detailing
Bachelor's Degree in Design and Technology
A bachelor's degree program in design and technology allows students to specialize in both computer-aided design software and the industry in which they would like to work. Programs are available in general design and technology, construction design technology, and product design engineering and technology. Generalist degree programs lean towards the arts, teaching subjects like art history and design for interactive mediums. Due to the range of specific applications for this degree, the curriculum will vary depending on the industry.
The core courses in most programs include:
- 3D animation techniques
- CAD customization
- Mechanical drafting
- Structural drafting
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 204,400 individuals employed as drafters of all kinds as of 2014 (www.bls.gov). During the same time, architectural and engineering fields accounted for half of all drafting jobs. Entry-level workers could be employed as:
- CAD operator
- CAD technician
- CAD coordinator
- Technical salesman
According to BLS data, candidates with at least two years of college education in drafting should have the best opportunities for work. Increased sophistication of CAD programs has led to more productive work hours for draftspersons. Graduates from associate degree programs found work as the following:
- CAD designer
- CAD manager
- CAD technician
- Design draftsperson
- Technical salesperson
BLS data showed that employment of drafters is projected to decline by 3% from 2014-2024. Employment between drafting industries was anticipated to vary, with electrical and electronic drafters having the highest expected increase, at 5%. Architectural/civil drafters should expect a 3% decline, while mechanical drafters should expect a 7% decline in employment during the same time period.
Students with an interest in design technology can choose between the following programs: a Certificate in Computer-Aided Design, an Associate's Degree in Computer-Aided Design, and a Bachelor's Degree in Design and Technology.