The answer to the question of – “How long does it take to learn AutoCAD?” depends on the level of proficiency you want to obtain. To get certified takes four to six months for rapid learners. Recruiters for companies usually seek people who have at least two years of practical experience using AutoCAD on the job.
These are the topics we will explore:
- What is AutoCad? →
- Who uses AutoCAD? →
- Reasons to Learn AutoCAD →
- Benefits of Learning AutoCad →
- How Long Does It Take to Learn AutoCAD →
- How to Learn AutoCAD →
- Is it easy to learn? →
- What You Will Learn →
What is AutoCAD?
Automated computer-aided design (AutoCAD) software is a product made by Autodesk. AutoCAD has been the industry standard for CAD designers since it was released originally in 1982. The software is the tool used to design and draft everything imaginable, including products, buildings, interior spaces, and infrastructure.
AutoCAD incorporates technical accuracy in the drawings that represent scaled measurements. This allows engineers to make design calculations and manufacturers to run technically correct simulations.
This video, produced by AutoCAD, gives a nice overview of AutoCAD 2021.
Who uses AutoCAD?
There are over eight million licensed AutoCAD users supported by Autodesk around the world. More than 300,000 companies use this software. The average company using AutoCAD has 10 to 50 employees with annual revenues of $1 million to $10 million. A few behemoth companies are using AutoCAD, such as Bechtel, with about 55,000 employees and $22 billion in annual revenues.
The majority of the companies using AutoCAD are in the construction/design industries. There are around 150,000 companies in the United States that use AutoCAD. There is about the same number of companies using AutoCAD in the rest of the world.
Here are the number of companies using AutoCAD in the United States reported by Enlyft as the top-ten categories:
- Construction: 14,042 companies
- Architecture/Planning: 12,005 companies
- Machinery: 6,342 companies
- Computer Software: 5,008 companies
- Computer Hardware: 3,574 companies
- Design: 3,041 companies
- Civil Engineering: 2,985 companies
- Higher Education: 2,882 companies
- Manufacturing: 2,854 companies
- Information Technology: 2,620 companies
Here are just a few examples of the types of AutoCAD users:
- Architects: Architects use AutoCAD to create blueprints for construction projects, such a custom homes and commercial buildings. AutoCAD offers useful tools in its suite that can show any design flaws in the CAD drawings. This helps discover things that do not connect properly or have incorrect measurements.
- Engineers: Civil, electrical, and mechanical engineers use AutoCAD for infrastructure and building systems design.
- Manufactures: Manufacturers use AutoCAD for product design, prototyping, and to create models to use for 3D printing.
- Interior Designers: Interior designers use AutoCAD to create floor layouts with furniture placement for aesthetics and to understand traffic flow through a space and other usage issues.
- Real Estate Developers: Real estate developers use AutoCAD for project planning and community planning.
- Government Officials: Government officials use AutoCAD for zoning, utility services, transportation, public works, and municipal support system design.
- Artists: Artists use AutoCAD to create models to scale, to envision sculptures, and to design large public art installations.
- Inventors: Inventors use AutoCAD to create design drawings for their inventions, such as the drawings that can be used for patent applications.
The variety of user types that work with AutoCAD is extraordinary. Autodesk offers a free version for students who are studying the software to be able to learn how to use it. Paid users are charged a monthly subscription rate for a per-seat license fee of $210 per month (discounted to $1,690 per year). There are free, open-source CAD programs that can be used as an alternative for those who cannot afford AutoCAD license fees.
Reasons to Learn AutoCAD
AutoCAD is a creative tool used by so many disciplines, including architects, civil and mechanical engineers, interior designers, fashion designers, manufacturers, and more. Every person pursuing a professional career in any of these areas must know how to use AutoCAD because it is so widely used.
Photoshop is for graphics, like AutoCAD is for blueprints and technical drawings. Even if you do not use AutoCAD in your regular employment, learning CAD is useful for certain hobbies, do-it-yourself design projects, and get some freelance work. For example, AutoCAD is the perfect tool if you want to design furniture and figure out the perfect layout for your home’s interior design.
The ability to design a product, a building structure, or an interior layout is advantageous. The wages for doing this work are high. The average earning for a CAD designer is $29 per hour ($60,000 per year). Top designers earn two to three times this amount.
You need to know AutoCAD to participate in the explosion of 3D printing applications in industries. This megatrend is causing manufacturers to re-think product design, and production techniques to now use additive methods. AutoCAD is used to create the 3D models used by the 3D printers.
Learning AutoCAD is the tool required to become a CAD technician or designer. It also provides the foundation needed to learn other CAD tools used for specialties. AutoCAD can be used for 2D drawings or 3D drawings.
In this video, produced by SourceCAD, the narrator explains everything about how to make a 2D drawing using AutoCAD. He shows how to work with dimensions, plot settings, line types, and more, which gives a nice demonstration of how to use the software.
Benefits of Learning AutoCAD
Learning AutoCAD and getting an expert certification is required if you want to enter certain professions (architect, engineer, designer, etc.) and excel in your career path. Building a portfolio of excellent CAD design work to show prospective employers or clients is the most effective way to get hired.
One woman I know got hired at a major aircraft manufacturing company over thousands of other applicants because she showed her CAD design to the recruiter. Her exquisite design was for a hobby drone she built with 3D printed parts.
If you are a student and have not yet decided on what you want to do but know that learning CAD will be useful in your chosen profession, you might go ahead and learn CAD while still deciding what you want to do for your career.
One young man I know, who wanted to get into medical school, tried for many years to get accepted. While he waited for acceptance, hoping to beat the odds to get into medical school, he designed a medical device using AutoCAD. He never got into medical school. Instead, he started a medical device company that became very successful.
Since AutoCAD set the standard, all the related software products work with the same types of files. Knowing AutoCAD makes it much easier to use other design programs such as FreeCAD, BlocksCAD, Creo, Fusion 360º, Solidworks, CATIA, OpenSCAD, Rhino, and others.
Learning AutoCAD is fun. Autodesk, the makers of AutoCAD, offer a free online program called TinkerCAD. This program is made for an absolute beginner. It is suitable for children (grades 3 to to play with as well. It is easy-to-use for creating designs to make almost anything you can imagine. Once you play around with this software for a little while, you will be hooked on using it. Teachers and hobbyists use this tool extensively to create fun projects.
Inventors use AutoCAD to create renditions of their ideas as a virtual model before making a physical prototype. This can save enormous amounts of time and money if design flaws are discovered before the expense of making a physical prototype is incurred.
How long does it take to learn AutoCAD?
A full-time student needs about two months to master the basics of AutoCAD. Online classes allow students to move more slowly through the material.
A certification program, which requires passing four courses, might take a part-time student four months to complete when studying at the rate of seven work-hours per week. It is reasonable to allow six months to two years to achieve expert-level CAD skills by working on projects.
How to Learn AutoCAD
Some people are self-taught or learn AutoCAD while working on projects. I think it is much easier to learn by taking online courses. Some advantages of taking an online course or completing an online certification program are that you can learn at your own pace from the comfort of your home or office.
For each course you complete, you get a sharable certificate to add to your resume. I reviewed the best AutoCAD courses to help you find a course or certificate program that is suitable for your career goals.
Is it easy to learn?
Geeks think it is easy. Regular people do not. Taking online courses that provide step-by-step training is the way most people get comfortable with using this software.
For the technically inclined, who study full-time, it is fairly easy to use the software with basic skills within a couple of months. Knowing how to use the software and applying it to a real-life project comes from using it to create designs and solve problems.
What will I learn?
There are three stages of learning AutoCAD. First, you learn the interface. Second, you use to tool on projects to master the software. Thirdly, you become proficient using AutoCAD components for special purposes such as architecture, manufacturing, mechanical engineering, or infrastructure design.
A beginner’s level course will cover the following:
- How to draw and organize objects.
- How to use the coordinate system.
- How to create and edit layouts using blocks.
- How to maintain version control.
An intermediate level course will cover more, including:
- How to import CAD files.
- How to use massing tools.
- How to create views.
- How to work with rooms, areas, object families, and parameters.
Advance courses will cover specialties, such as the following:
- AutoCad for Architects
- AutoCad for Manufacturing
- AutoCad for Mechanical Engineering
- AutoCad for Infrastructure Design
Did I answer the question – How long does it take to learn AutoCAD? More or less, six months to two years. I continue to learn more about AutoCAD, even though I have been using the program for decades. Most AutoCAD professionals participate in continuing education to learn how AutoCAD is used in innovative ways.
I started using AutoCAD for interior design and now progressed to using it for environmental mapping projects. Be sure to check out my best AutoCAD courses to see the variety of specializations and certificate programs that are available for ongoing education. I look forward to seeing some of your designs.