How Long Does It Take To Learn AutoCAD? (Beginners)
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At first glance, learning AutoCAD seems like a daunting task. The many commands, tools, and menus can make anyone’s head spin. It’s easy for beginners to feel intimidated to the point of becoming discouraged or just giving up entirely.
We understand that the learning process for AutoCAD is confusing and time-consuming. But worry not! It’s possible; all it takes is time, commitment, and practice.
As well as helping you understand how long it’ll take you to learn AutoCAD, this article also includes handy tips and pointers to accelerate your learning.
- How Long Does it Take to Learn AutoCAD?
- The Best Ways to Learn AutoCAD On Your Own
- Tips for Self-Learning with AutoCAD
How Long Does it Take to Learn AutoCAD?
The basics of AutoCAD can be learned in 1-3 months, but it’ll take 6-12 months to get up to speed with the full set of features and fully understand and learn AutoCAD.
AutoCAD themselves estimate it will take:
- Three months to understand where everything is and how to use it
- Six months to get up to speed
- 12 months to master the software
How long it will take to learn AutoCAD also depends on you, and your chosen learning method. Other factors, such as whether you have any existing AutoCAD knowledge, and how much time you have free to dedicate to learning AutoCAD, also affect the learning curve.
AutoCAD is a complex program and starting to learn it can be difficult. So, other factors that affect your learning include:
- Are you already familiar with computer-aided design (CAD)?
- Can you afford to take a structured course?
- Are you learning AutoCAD for fun or as a career goal?
These factors will influence how long it will take to learn and master AutoCAD.
Beginner: Understanding the Interface
Here are some basic tasks that you should start with when you first begin learning AutoCAD:
- Understanding the AutoCAD workspace, user interface, navigation, selection, and units set up
- Learning and using basic drawing, editing, and viewing tools
- Drawing basic layouts and drawings such as simple floor plans or elevations
Your AutoCAD learning journey begins with understanding the interface and learning how to interact with and set up the workspace. Much like learning any new software, you need to learn to walk before you can run.
AutoDesk estimates that it can take around three months (90 days) to become proficient with the interface. A solid 2-4 hours a day for a month is sufficient to learn and become familiar with the basics of AutoCAD.
Start by poking around and learning how to access and activate basic drawing tools, modify tools, and any others. This won’t take too long if you’re already familiar with Windows applications. All you need in the beginning stages is a little patience and practice.
CAD users can also customize the interface to suit their needs.
Intermediate: Becoming Proficient in the Basics
Once you’re familiar with the setup of AutoCAD, you now need to learn the basics. This part of the learning process can take anywhere from 3-6 months.
During this stage, you’ll start to figure out how to utilize the devices, tools, and commands and how to create basic drawings and blueprints.
These aspects of learning AutoCAD are fundamental in mastering and using the software efficiently.
Here are some basic tasks that you should learn to become an intermediate:
- Understand drafting settings
- Using annotation commands (Text, Dimension, Leader)
- Creating basic blocks
- Creating and using basic layers
- Setting up layouts and sheets (Paper Space) with accurate paper size and print settings
- Using crucial commands to make changes such as move, duplicate, twist, reflector, and scale
- Using template files (.dwt)
Expert: Mastering the Software
Once you’ve gotten the hang of the basics and mastered how to create basic drawings in AutoCAD, you’re ready to take your CAD skills and expertise to the next level. It can take up to six months to truly master the software.
As they say, practice makes perfect. There is no shortage of things you can create with AutoCAD, and there are various exercises online to help you build up the design process.
Advanced AutoCAD includes mastering such aspects:
- Learning advanced drawing (Hatch) and modifying commands (Array)
- Drawing complex layouts and drawings such as reflected ceiling plans
- Creating reusable blocks
- Cross-referencing various drawings
- Creating complex blocks with attributes
- Creating annotation styles
- Creating and using a full list of layers
- Basic use of external references (images, pdfs, Dwg)
- Understanding proper project folder setup
The Best Ways to Learn AutoCAD On Your Own
There are many great ways to learn AutoCAD, from a web-based course and in-person class to a YouTube tutorial. But the best way to learn AutoCAD is to take it one step at a time and keep practicing.
Whichever of the below methods you follow, stick with one that best suits your learning needs and challenges you. Only then can you achieve the best results.
You can find multiple online AutoCAD training courses via Google. Which course you choose will greatly depend on:
- Your budget
- Your AutoCAD training goals: what knowledge you want to acquire.
The order of learning is the most important thing to look for with online courses. You need to find a course that best suits your needs and gives you the right guidance on where to start and the route to take to learn AutoCAD correctly.
If you want to go straight to the source, Autodesk has an official training website that shares tips, tricks, and courses for all skill and knowledge levels.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or need a skill refresher after a sabbatical period, Autodesk has free and paid resources.
For paid resources, you can attend authorized training centers to receive hands-on training from professional instructors.
The biggest advantage of these paid resources is that you can earn an official AutoCAD certification by completing the course. This a major plus if you’re taking this skill to future employers.
Learning from YouTube is also an excellent alternative. Video courses are the best CAD learning paths, especially if you’re a visual learner.
YouTube is free, and you can find all the information you need in multiple languages. You’re not limited to only one information source and can advance at your own pace.
However, there is a drawback. Some tutorials may use a different version of AutoCAD than you or have completely different program settings.
Another great way to hone your skills and get inspired is to participate in design competitions. Many online design communities set up competitions with different themes to encourage users to explore new ideas, get out of their comfort zone and promote their work.
This is a great option if you’re struggling to think of new concepts or just want to connect with other designers and promote your work.
Tips for Self-Learning with AutoCAD
Here are a few tips and tricks to follow in your self-learning journey:
- Patience and practice are key to success with any skill you’d like to master; this is especially true for beginners.
- Find tutorials and blogs specific to your niche.
- Search for exercises to help you memorize the AutoCAD commands or replicate drawings. This will help boost your self-esteem and motivation to continue learning.
- Learn how to do 2D drawings before you begin to do 3D. Start by using the 2D drawing tools and apply what you learn to 2D drawing samples – there are some online 2D samples to practice with.
- Once you’re confident with the 2D tools, you can move on to the 3D drawing tools. Both sets are pretty much the same except for some specialized 3D tools.
- Never stop practicing! You could take the best AutoCAD course and become a CAD Guru, but you will lose your skills if you don’t practice regularly.
Is it hard to learn AutoCAD?
Those new to AutoCAD may find the program very complex, but it’s not hard to learn with the right training options. With a little motivation from knowledgeable resources, you can learn AutoCAD features relatively easily. Mastering AutoCAD will take time if you learn each step properly.
Can I learn AutoCAD in a month?
Learning AutoCAD from scratch can take months. However, if you dedicate a good amount of time each day to learning, you can pick up the basics and understand the software in a month. Hands-on learning is your best bet to quickly become a more advanced AutoCAD user.
Can I learn AutoCAD on my own?
Definitely! There are many ways to learn AutoCAD on your own, such as web-based online courses or YouTube tutorials.
Can I learn AutoCAD online?
Many free online resources allow new users to learn AutoCAD without registration. Autodesk Training, in particular, offers various free and paid courses for all skill and knowledge levels.