The term "industrial arts" generally refers to anything that involves the use of tools, machinery and mechanical systems. Traditionally, industrial arts classes were the shop classes in high school, such as metal shop or woodworking. Today, industrial arts encompasses traditional shop training as well as advanced systems, such as robotics, electronics and mechanical design.
Wood and Metal Work
Woodworkers are not just craftsmen who build ornate furniture using hand tools, they are highly skilled tradespeople who operate advanced equipment and machinery. They set up equipment, cut and shape wooden parts, and finish products. Similarly, metalworkers study plans and use machines, measurements and technology to craft products and build frames for buildings. Neither career path typically requires a college degree, but both require apprenticeship training and an aptitude for building and reading plans.
Industrial engineers determine the most effective ways make a product or material work. They study products and their requirements; develop management-control systems; and determine how to most efficiently combine raw materials, construction, costs and transportation. Becoming an industrial engineer requires a college degree and a background in mathematics and the physical sciences. A degree in industrial engineering might include courses in operations research, production and inventory control, probability and statistics, and information systems.
Mechanical designers are also known as drafters and computer-aided design and drafting operators. They craft plans for products; structural and architectural projects; designs and mechanical parts and tools. Aeronautical drafters prepare drawings used in manufacturing aircraft and missiles; architectural drafters draw plans for construction projects; and mechanical drafters prepare layouts that show details for a wide variety of machinery and mechanical devices. To become a mechanical designer typically requires at least an associate degree and preferably a bachelor's degree.
Tomorrow's industrial arts professionals will always need good teachers. Industrial arts teachers can teach small engine repair, ventilation systems design, welding and metal working. They also can teach computer repair, graphic design and computer-aided design. Typically, this is a career path for teaching high school, which means a career requires at least a bachelor's degree. Teaching requirements vary by state and district, but typically, industrial arts teachers need to complete a degree program in the field.