AutoCAD is a computer-aided design and drafting software used by professionals in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. If you’re hoping to get a job in the industry without an engineering or architecture degree, having drafting skills is a must. AutoCAD is one of the most universal drafting programs, used by drafters, designers, project managers, assistants, engineers, and more.
The AutoCAD software is expensive: a 3-year license of the full program, with both 2D and 3D modeling capabilities, costs $4,345, while a 3-year license of AutoCAD LT, which has only 2D modeling capabilities, rings in at $1080. Both programs are free for students and educators at accredited institutions, so enrolling in a course through an accredited program is a good way to help you access it inexpensively. Free courses and tutorials are also available, but to take advantage of these, you will need to have access to the software or be willing to pay for it. If you are already working in the AEC industry but want to improve your skills, some employers will cover the cost of a certification course and exam—be sure to inquire.
There are dozens of courses online that can help you master AutoCAD and make a career change or simply move forward in your job. Whether you are a complete beginner or an intermediate user looking to brush up your skills, these courses are the top options to help you learn AutoCAD online.
Best Beginner Courses
Introduction to AutoCAD (Virtual Design & Construction Institute)
Introduction to AutoCAD is for complete beginners, and you will learn to draw drafting symbols, kitchen and bath fixtures, and a floor plan. You will also become familiar with the program’s user interface and basic commands. VDCI is an Autodesk Authorized Training Center and an accredited institution, which means the fee for the course gives you access to the AutoCAD software. The course includes 30 instructional hours spread over 18 days, and you can work at your own pace to complete the lectures and projects.
Free AutoCAD Video Tutorial Series (The Source CAD)
The Source CAD provides access to a series of about 70 videos covering basic user skills as well as both 2D and 3D modeling topics. It values hands-on learning and retention by including practice drawings and quizzes at the end of each section. The course is free to watch online, or the videos and data files can be download for offline use for $9.
AutoCAD LT Essential Training (Lynda/LinkedIn Learning)
If your goal is to master 2D modeling, this course will teach you to use AutoCAD LT, the 2D version of the software. At 6 hours and 12 minutes long, this is a great class to introduce you to the basics, from drawing simple geometry, using workspaces, becoming familiar with the interface, adding dimensions, and more.
The Complete AutoCAD 2018-2020 Course (Udemy)
A best-seller on Udemy with over 21,000 students enrolled, this is a course intended for complete beginners. It is project-oriented: each module includes practical questions, and there a section dedicated to practice drawings. Included in the course are 184 video lectures—a total of 17.5 hours of instruction—as well as content about navigating the features of new versions of AutoCAD, creating and modifying drawings, adding annotations, and much more. Buyers of the course retain full lifetime access.
Autodesk AutoCAD Masterclass: The Ultimate Guide to AutoCAD (Skillshare)
For those who hope to eventually become certified AutoCAD users, this course is a great option. At 10 hours and 55 minutes long , this free class covers an extensive array of topics, including drawing shapes, working with properties and layers, editing commands, annotations, hatching, and printing and publishing. As a bonus, students who join the course receive a 50% discount on the price of the official AutoCAD certification exam.
Best Intermediate Courses
60 AutoCAD Tips in 60 Minutes (Autodesk)
If you’re pressed for time or looking to improve your existing skills, consider this 60-minute course offered through Autodesk, the company that developed the AutoCAD software. It offers tips and tricks to streamline your use of the program and includes two free handouts to download so that you can go back and reference what you learn.
Introduction to 3D Drafting (My CAD Site)
Once you’ve mastered 2D modeling, you can move on to 3-dimensional projects. These tutorials about 3D Drafting are an excellent introduction to the topic. My CAD Site offers text-based tutorials with images, which is useful for those who don’t learn well from video lectures. It is easy to re-read or search each post to find the information you’re looking for, and each module ends with a short quiz to help you retain what you’ve learned. The site is a repository of dozens more free lessons for all levels of AutoCAD users.
CAD & Project Management (Virtual Design & Construction Institute)
If you are looking to get into project management in architecture or construction, this course can help you learn the most important skills to excel. Taught by a senior Project Manager, the course focuses on how to manage CAD projects and update projects to conform with office CAD standards. Course prerequisites include either 6 months of professional AutoCAD experience or completion of previous CAD courses. Since VIDA is an accredited institution, enrollment in this course means that you will have free access to the AutoCAD software. The course consists of 30 instructional hours over 18 days.
CAD Detailing (Virtual Design & Construction Institute)
This course is meant to introduce students to the two dominant methods for 2D detail drawings at AEC firms: creating them from scratch, and referencing and clipping information from other drawings. Taught by a licensed architect, the class includes lectures, hands-on demonstrations, and lab exercises. Intermediate users will benefit most from this class; in order to enroll, you must have completed previous CAD courses or must have 6 months of professional AutoCAD experience. The course includes 30 instructional hours, completed at your own pace over 18 days, and the fee includes software access.
Best Advanced Courses
AutoCAD Advanced Training (CAD Training Online)
This advanced course includes 24 hours of online training which can be completed in either 3 full days or 6 half days. Topics covered in the class include working with tables and dynamic blocks, attributes, text objects, external references, macros, and more. Students can choose whether they would prefer to learn with an instructor—ideal for those who prefer to interact with a teacher and other students—or through a self-paced option that includes live support. The course fee includes the AutoCAD software licensed for 3 years.
AutoCAD for Architecture (CAD Institute)
Users with prior experience in AutoCAD can take this course to perfect their skills at creating 2D drawings for architectural designs. Topics include symbols and attributes, object properties, dimensions, multilines, grips, selection sets, and more. The course does not provide access to the software, so it is best suited for those who already have AutoCAD on their home or work computers.
If you’re hoping to move forward in the architecture, engineering, or construction industry, mastery of AutoCAD is an invaluable skill that is well worth the investment of time or money. These courses will help you learn the ropes of the program, brush up your skills, and develop your expertise so that you can become a proficient AutoCAD user and a more valuable employee.