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What Is an Industrial Arts Degree?

by Lee Grayson, studioD

Industrial arts study, promoted by progressive education reformers beginning in the 1900s, trained students at all education levels from elementary through college to learn the practical skills necessary for work and business. The field focused on employment trends, and early students completed hands-on training in carpentry, metal work, ceramics and leather crafting. Modern industrial arts study, now frequently called career and technical education, offers students degrees in many of the same traditional fields, but also expands the degree options into include two and four-year study of technology and applied arts.

Vocational Laws and Acts

State departments of education fund education programs, but the agencies also accept money from the federal government to promote special training or vocational programs. The federal government offers states, counties, education offices and individual schools an opportunity to apply for grants to pay for student training at the high school and community college level in industrial arts, also called vocational education. Federal programs, including the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Workforce Development Act, promote industrial arts training. These federal acts continue to offer categorical grants as of 2013 for programs in career work development.

Hands-on Instruction

Industrial arts degrees teach students using hands-on instruction. The most effective programs train with the same equipment and technology used by professionals in the workplace so students practice and perfect the techniques required by the job. Employment fields, including construction trades, frequently don't require a formal degree for hiring, but an industrial arts degree shows employers that program graduates have the required training and skills to move directly onto the job site for work. A degree also proves to potential employers that graduates have the commitment to the field and the motivation to complete a demanding study program.

Technical Degrees

Technical and vocational degrees offered by industrial arts programs include criminal justice, information systems, industrial technology and management, computer science, engineering, graphic arts and healthcare management and administration. Art schools and some two and four-year colleges have degree programs in interior and fashion design. Industrial arts programs frequently combine apprenticeships with formal industrial arts degrees and give students a chance to enter the workforce immediately after graduation. Advanced vocational degrees, including a Master of Arts in industrial arts, allow students to take jobs at design firms and technology companies. Degrees also train students for employment as teachers or project managers for industrial technology and digital media firms.

Technical Colleges

For-profit and nonprofit technical schools, sometimes called career academies or vocational colleges, issue degrees in industrial arts, but students don't necessarily earn the traditional bachelor's degree at the schools. Training schools frequently give students the option of earning certification or a license in the career field. Formal degree programs at technical colleges feature the career fields of digital entertainment and technology, criminal justice, game design, construction management, drafting and communications. Students interested in business degrees also have a selection from a field of degrees in management, administration, marketing, technology and accounting. Master's programs at technical colleges include programs in business finance and management and project and human resource management. Students can also earn advanced degrees in public administration and network and communications management.

About the Author

Lee Grayson has worked as a freelance writer since 2000. Her articles have appeared in publications for Oxford and Harvard University presses and research publishers, including Facts On File and ABC-CLIO. Grayson holds certificates from the University of California campuses at Irvine and San Diego.

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