Learn AutoCAD

a Comprehensive Guide to Start Learning AutoCAD

AutoCAD is a CAD (computer-assisted design) software commonly used for drafting. AutoCAD is common in fields like engineering, architecture, interior design, and 3D printing.

Discover the various ways you can learn AutoCAD, the industry's most widely-used computer-aided design software, and the types of careers that commonly use this tool. We discuss how you can leverage free resources, classes, and tutorials to enhance your skills, making you more competitive in the job market.

Key Insights

  • AutoCAD is the most widely-used computer-aided design software worldwide, and is extensively used by architects, engineers, graphic designers and others for creating 2D and 3D models and drawings.
  • AutoCAD skills are in high demand for careers in drafting, engineering, architecture, and design. These professionals use AutoCAD to convert designs into technical drawings and blueprints, produce designs and specifications for various items, create floor plans and 3D renderings, and develop prototypes.
  • Learning AutoCAD can significantly enhance your job marketability and salary prospects, and it serves as a foundation for learning other design programs.
  • Noble Desktop offers several AutoCAD learning options, including self-paced, virtual and in-person classes, and tutorials.
  • AutoCAD Professional Certification, offered by Autodesk, is an industry-recognized certification that can accelerate your career opportunities in architecture, engineering, construction, product design, and manufacturing.
  • The cost of an individual AutoCAD subscription is $235 monthly, $1,865 a year, or $5,315 for three years, but free 30-day trials are available.

AutoCAD is the most widely-used computer-aided design software in the world. Architects, project managers, graphic designers, engineers, and other professionals rely on AutoCAD to create 2D and 3D models and drawings. If you’ve always wanted to learn AutoCAD but can’t figure out how to get started, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn more about the various ways to learn AutoCAD, free resources to take advantage of, and the types of careers that commonly use AutoCAD.

What is AutoCAD?

AutoCAD is the most widely-used computer-aided design (CAD) software worldwide. It is used to create architectural, construction, and engineering blueprints, schematics, and models. Released by Autodesk in 1982, AutoCAD makes 2D and 3D designing more efficient. As a result, millions of professionals across several industries rely daily on this powerful, collaborative software.

AutoCAD is available for download at Autodesk’s website, where you can purchase a subscription to keep up with the latest software versions. There are several ways to learn AutoCAD, as there are a variety of self-paced, virtual, and in-person classes and tutorials available. While there are other comparable CAD programs on the market, AutoCAD is known as the industry-standard, and it is a valuable skill to add to your resume.

Read more about what AutoCAD is and why you should learn it. 

What Can You Do with AutoCAD?

The industry-standard software for CAD and drafting, AutoCAD enables users to create, edit and collaborate across desktop, web, and mobile devices. With AutoCAD, you can produce precise 2D and 3D drawings and models, electrical diagrams, construction drawings, interior designs, and more. 

AutoCAD is a versatile software featuring many industry-specific tools and features. It makes the design process easier through its many automation and customization tools. AutoCAD is a popular and vital tool for professionals in many industries, including interior design, project management, machining, manufacturing, architectural design, and engineering. The software allows team members to share and collaborate seamlessly on projects across their devices from anywhere. 

Careers that Use AutoCAD

AutoCAD is an essential tool for professionals in several different sectors. In fact, many workers in these fields could not perform their jobs without this versatile software. Here are some careers where AutoCAD skills are in high demand:

  • Drafting: Drafters use AutoCAD to convert designs (created by architects and engineers) into technical drawings and blueprints. These drawings and blueprints are used to create structures, machines, or tools. In addition, AutoCAD enables the designs to be easily reworked and improved before delivering the final result. The most common drafting positions include Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics, Civil, and Architectural Drafters.
  • Engineering: Engineers use AutoCAD to produce designs and specifications for a wide range of items, such as car engines, elevators, bridges, highways, and even electrical grids in a city. AutoCAD enables engineers to run simulations to test how designs will perform in real-world situations. Engineering careers where AutoCAD skills are most needed include Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics, Civil, and Industrial Engineers.
  • Architecture: AutoCAD is extremely popular in the world of architecture. Architects use AutoCAD to create comprehensive floor plans and 3D renderings of structures like office buildings, residential homes, and outdoor landscapes. In addition, the software can analyze a building’s many parts and calculate the load levels of support structures.
  • Design: Similar to Architects, Interior and Industrial Designers use AutoCAD to create 2D models and 3D renderings of their design plans, using its extensive libraries and templates. Interior Designers use AutoCAD to produce detailed images of interior spaces with design ideas for color schemes, furniture placement, and more. Industrial Designers use the software to create designs for manufactured products ranging from toys to toasters to cars. Their goal is to create products that are both functional and attractive to users. AutoCAD enables designers to develop a prototype for testing its functionality and cost-effectiveness. 

In addition, the recent expansion of additive manufacturing—or 3D printing—has dramatically increased the demand for AutoCAD skills. Since 3D printing relies on the development of CAD models to guide printers, it’s driving job growth in this field across many manufacturing industries.

Why Learn AutoCAD?

Creating 2D and 3D blueprints, schematics, and models is crucial in architecture, engineering, drafting, and construction. As a result, learning software like AutoCAD is a valuable addition to your resume if you hope to pursue a design career in these fields. There are several exciting career opportunities available for people with AutoCAD skills.

Adding AutoCAD to your resume will put you ahead in today’s job market and help increase your salary. It may also help to advance your career if you’re already employed. Furthermore, since all other CAD software is modeled after AutoCAD’s interface, learning it will give you a solid foundation for learning any additional design programs. It’s also a valuable skill to have if you hope to make some extra money freelancing or enhance your hobbies like home and furniture design or personal 3D printing. 

Read more about why you should learn AutoCAD

How to Learn AutoCAD

If your preferred learning style is taking a structured class, Noble Desktop has several options to help you find the best AutoCAD course to fit your needs. If you’re looking for courses taught in a traditional classroom, check out Noble’s class locator tool to find in-person AutoCAD classes in your area. You can also explore Noble’s many live online AutoCAD courses if you’d prefer virtual learning. Noble’s instructors are industry experts and teach in small groups, providing interactive, hands-on training.

Too busy to attend a structured live course? An on-demand AutoCAD class may be the better option for you to learn these skills. On-demand courses are self-paced, and many are free of charge or available at low cost. You can find several choices online, covering the fundamentals for beginners to more advanced AutoCAD topics for experienced users. Providers offering on-demand AutoCAD classes include Cerstaffix, Udemy, CTO, and LinkedIn Learning.

In addition to several live online and in-person AutoCAD classes, Noble also features a hub of AutoCAD tutorials, articles, and resources for you to explore.

 Read the full guide on how to learn AutoCAD.

Free Introductory AutoCAD Course Online 

Not quite ready to commit to an entire course? Start learning AutoCAD by exploring free online classes, guides, and tutorials. Noble Desktop offers several free online AutoCAD resources to help jumpstart your training. You’ll explore topics like entering line, rectangle, and circle commands, using mechanical and architectural templates, navigation techniques, and more. Noble’s free introductory training provides a solid overview of AutoCAD without spending a dime.

AutoDesk, the company that developed AutoCAD, offers free online tutorials and courses through its AutoDesk University. Topics range from essential “tips and tricks” to industry-specific tasks and processes. There are also several forums and blogs on the AutoDesk website where you can connect with peers, ask questions, and share information about AutoCAD.

Several other providers and websites also offer free AutoCAD tutorials and courses for learners at all levels. Udemy, Coursera, myCADsite, and CADTutor cover 2D and 3D practice drawings, basic drafting techniques, and other fundamentals. The training programs vary in length and are available in several different languages. You can also find hundreds of free AutoCAD tutorials on YouTube, covering various topics, including industry-specific videos. Just be sure to watch the most recent uploads to ensure you’re learning the latest versions of the software.

Read about more free AutoCAD videos and online tutorials.

Level of Difficulty, Prerequisites, & Cost 

At first glance, learning AutoCAD appears to be a daunting task. Its many powerful tools and number of commands are undoubtedly complex. But experts and the average users agree that anyone can learn AutoCAD; it just takes time and practice. Opinions vary on exactly how long it takes to learn the software. Some say you can learn the basics within one to three months, while most agree it can take up to a full year to master the software. The level of difficulty and amount of time it takes to learn the software depends on factors like your existing computer knowledge, budget, schedule, and level of commitment.

The good news is that you don’t have to be a math or tech genius to master AutoCAD. While it’s a bit more complex than the average software, you are ready to go once you learn its interface and the basics. As long as you have basic computer skills, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty understanding the program. Before you start, research your career path to ensure you get the proper training. You can also explore the many resources online to become familiar with the software’s capabilities and get a head start in your learning journey.

To download AutoCAD, you must purchase a subscription on the Autodesk website. An individual subscription costs $235 monthly, $1,865 a year, or $5,315 for three years. Autodesk also recently launched a new program, Autodesk Flex, for occasional product use via a token system. As a subscription alternative, you can purchase tokens to access the software for 24 hours at a time for around $3 per token. The type of subscription you choose will depend on whether you buy it for student, individual, or business use. Financing and free 30-day trials are also available.

Read about how difficult it is to learn AutoCAD.

How Does Learning AutoCAD Compare to Other Applications?

So, you want to learn AutoCAD but are afraid it may be too difficult? Read on to put your fears aside. While AutoCAD may take more time to learn than design applications like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe XD, Adobe InDesign, and SketchUp, it’s not too tough to grasp. Let’s explore the process of learning AutoCAD versus a comparable computer-aided design application like SketchUp. 

AutoCAD is a complex software with many powerful features and tools. Before you start your training, it may be a good idea to familiarize yourself with some 3D modeling. Users report that once you become comfortable with AutoCAD’s interface, commands, and viewports, you are well on your way to mastering the software. As an alternative, SketchUp is known as a user-friendly and easy-to-learn 3D modeling program. It’s also geared more toward beginners and is considerably less expensive than AutoCAD. Users report that anyone can learn SketchUp within a few hours of practice, and the interface is intuitive. 

While it may be easier to learn SketchUp, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should write off AutoCAD. AutoCAD remains the preferred CAD software across many industries. The software you choose to learn depends on your career goals. Architects and Engineers prefer AutoCAD, while Graphic Designers, Filmmakers, and Product Engineers lean toward SketchUp for its substantial 3D capabilities. Since both programs are well-respected and have been around for over 20 years, you can’t go wrong with either choice.

How to Decide the Best Way to Learn AutoCAD

Before jumping into an AutoCAD course, you should first consider which training works best for you. You should explore Noble Desktop’s free Intro to AutoCAD seminar for a high-level overview of AutoCAD. This seminar will help you test the waters before spending money on a more comprehensive course.

In contrast, Noble’s AutoCAD Bootcamp is an excellent fit if you’re looking for an immersive AutoCAD course to help advance your career. Enrolling in a comprehensive bootcamp can take you from a beginner to an advanced-level learner within a week. Noble’s course is the perfect option if you don’t have the time to commit to a lengthy class but need to gain skills fast. This bootcamp covers basic drawing and modifying techniques for drafting and technical drawing that you can use to build real-world objects.

If you are seriously considering a career in design, drafting, or engineering, you may want to think about earning an AutoCAD Professional Certification. This industry-recognized certification helps you stand out to employers and gives you an advantage over the competition. With so many professionals learning AutoCAD independently or on the job, there is no real way for potential employers to measure skill levels accurately. While a potential candidate may appear proficient in AutoCAD, they may only know basic commands or functions. That’s where certifications play a crucial role in gauging one’s knowledge and capabilities. 

Autodesk, the maker of AutoCAD, offers specialized AutoCAD certifications in architecture, engineering, construction, product design, and manufacturing. Keep in mind that these certifications require adequate preparation before taking the exam. Noble’s AutoCAD courses are a great way to prepare for these prestigious certifications. 

There are essential factors to consider when choosing your AutoCAD training. Do you want the convenience of learning online from home or prefer a traditional classroom setting? In addition, keep in mind that some training programs can be costly and time-consuming. Make sure you choose a course that fits your schedule and budget. AutoCAD is a complex software; more advanced classes may recommend prior software experience before enrolling. You may also want to find courses that offer mentor and networking opportunities in addition to the educational component. These added perks can be instrumental in setting you up for a successful and lucrative career.

Learn AutoCAD with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Noble Desktop offers a variety of AutoCAD classes for learners at all levels. Whether you take an online course from home or attend an in-person class at Noble’s Manhattan campus, you’ll get up-to-the-minute hands-on training from leading industry experts. In addition, Noble’s courses are taught in small groups and include an optional free retake for students within a year.

Noble’s AutoCAD Level 1 course for beginners provides an overview of all the basics, like printing and plotting layouts and sheets, working between model and paper space, and scaling drawings through viewports. AutoCAD Level 2 builds upon the fundamentals and teaches you how to create more technical and advanced projects. 

Noble’s AutoCAD Bootcamp combines all topics from Levels 1 and 2 for a comprehensive overview of everything you’ll need to master the software. In addition, you’ll learn how to create drawings that you can use to build real-world objects and get valuable feedback from instructors in real time, whether you participate virtually or in-person.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in design, drafting, or engineering, you may want to consider earning an AutoCAD Professional Certification. This certification is industry-recognized and can help accelerate your career opportunities. Autodesk offers specialized AutoCAD certifications in architecture, engineering, construction, product design, and manufacturing. Noble’s AutoCAD courses are a great way to prepare for these prestigious certifications. 

AutoCAD Bootcamp: Live & Hands-on, In NYC or Online, Learn From Experts, Free Retake, Small Class Sizes,  1-on-1 Bonus Training. Named a Top Bootcamp by Forbes, Fortune, & Time Out. Noble Desktop. Learn More.

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