Best AutoCAD Courses to Design Things Like a Boss

Best AutoCAD Courses to Design Things Like a Boss

AutoCAD has long been the computer-aided design (CAD) software application of choice: the widely used program first hit the shelves way back in 1982.

And for any professional who incorporates design elements into their day-to-day tasks, this powerful tool is still the best option on the market. From architects to engineers and everyone in-between, AutoCAD offers unbeatable functionality and performance—it’s an essential bit of kit.

But as effective as the program may be, it’s no use if you don’t know how to use it. Like all specialist software suites, AutoCAD requires some commitment to learn the ropes.

Thankfully, there’s no need to enroll in a time-consuming and expensive in-person AutoCAD course. A whole host of quick and cost-effective online courses are out there, each with sufficient detail to teach you the essential info from the comfort of your own home.

From beginner-orientated AutoCAD courses to advanced classes aimed at the seasoned pros, we’ve covered the top ten options on the internet today.

Orientation: Key AutoCAD Considerations

Before you start perusing our reviews, it’s worth taking a moment to consider what you need. The ideal online AutoCAD course depends on your specific situation, so keep the following factors in mind.

Difficulty Level

AutoCAD courses range from beginner-friendly walkthroughs to advanced, in-depth modules suitable for the seasoned pros. First things first, assess how well you understand the inner workings of the program and enroll in a course that’s appropriate for your skill level.

And be humble about your abilities; there’s no point forking out for an advanced program if you’re not up to speed on the basics.

Length

The longer the course, the more you’re going to learn. But it’s crucial to be realistic. After all, there are only so many hours in the day. Once you factor in your work, study, family commitments, and social life, are you going to have time to complete an in-depth AutoCAD course?

Our top recommendations range from 60 minutes to 12 months, making them suitable for time-poor professionals and budding design students alike.

Cost

When searching for an AutoCAD course, it’s worth considering how much it’ll cost.

Although some AutoCAD courses are completely free, these won’t necessarily offer the best value. You need to factor in the time it takes to complete the course.  For example, if a premium option teaches you all the skills you need in half the time, it’s going to offer better value than a free course.

In any case, work out how much you’re prepared to spend on an AutoCAD course and shop accordingly.

Course List: The Top 10 AutoCAD Courses

a professional using AutoCAD in the office

Now that you know what to look out for, it’s time to browse our list of recommendations. We’ve identified and reviewed the most reputable AutoCAD courses from the top online learning institutions, as well as a few independent offerings.

Top 10 Best AutoCAD Courses to Design Things like A Boss 2021


1. Best Overall: The Complete AutoCAD 2018-21 Course

  • 18.5 hours on-demand video $19 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Create and edit AutoCAD drawings and layouts
  • Prepare for the AutoCAD exam
  • Work with floor plans and mechanical diagrams

Why we like it

This comprehensive online course from Udemy teaches you everything you need to know about the program for a very reasonable price.

Who Should Buy It

This uber-comprehensive option from Udemy is ideal for anyone who wants to learn the nitty-gritty details of the program from scratch. It’s a long and in-depth course, so it’s not worth it for students simply seeking a quick refresher.

The Review

As the bestseller on Udemy, this widely popular AutoCAD course is an option you can trust. Over 65,000 students have completed the program — the vast majority of whom have left positive reviews.

What we love most about this one — and the reason we rate it as the best course overall — is that it’s among the most comprehensive options on the internet. Rather than just focusing on a few specific areas, instructor Jaiprakash Pandey (a certified Autodesk educator) offers a wide range of information to cater to design professionals of all types. From AutoCAD command lists to practice projects and a Mac overview, there’s a massive amount of content to get through.

Another big plus is that the course is highly project orientated. Rather than spending excessive time on the theory, it prompts students to complete practice projects to enhance their hands-on experience.

As for the format, the course contains a sizeable 17-hour video library, plus numerous self-assessment quizzes and practice projects. The content variation here helps keep the program interesting, which is a significant factor in its success.

Despite its low price tag, Jaiprakash has personally answered every single question on the course Q&A. It’s a zero-risk commitment, too: if you don’t like the class, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • Highly comprehensive course
  • Reputable option with thousands of positive reviews
  • Instructor answers questions on the forum
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Project orientated with real-world practice questions

Cons

  • Too comprehensive for some students


2. Best for Beginners: AutoCAD 2021 Beginners Course

  • 7h 21m of video $32 per month or $168 annually (7-day trial is free) Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Hands-on class projects
  • Learn essential functions
  • Create a building outline

Why we like it

This awesome Skillshare option will quickly teach the novice AutoCAD user all the essential info to navigate the platform like a pro.

Who Should Buy It

As the name suggests, this nifty course from Skillshare is specifically targeted at beginners. If you’ve never used the software in your life, this is the perfect option for you.

Unfortunately, however, it’s only useful for Windows users. As the Mac commands are different, Mac users would find the content confusing at times.

Intermediate to advanced users will also probably find this one a bit too simplistic for their needs.

The Review

Skillshare superstar Michael Freeman runs this superb beginner-friendly course, which boasts over seven hours of action-packed video. It’s among the most popular AutoCAD courses on the platform, with over 2,000 happy customers to date.

Michael has been in the design industry for over 25 years, and he has used AutoCAD almost every day. As a result, he knows his stuff and has a passion for teaching others how to master the platform.

Michael believes that other AutoCAD courses focus too heavily on outdated features and functions. His overarching objective is to teach students the most recent techniques without wasting time on outdated methods. That way, he can help beginner users get up and running as quickly as possible, giving them the knowledge they need to start earning real-world experience in the workplace.

Despite having such a large number of enrollments, Michael endeavors to answer all student inquiries personally.

Pros

  • Highly experienced instructor
  • Reputable, high-performing course
  • Focus on up-to-date techniques
  • Instructor answers questions

Cons

  • Not suitable for intermediate or advanced users
  • Not suitable for Mac users


3. Best for Exam Prep: AutoCAD for Design and Drafting Exam Prep

  • 17 hours $59 per month Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Draw objects using advanced functions
  • Perform drawing management techniques
  • Create and manage layouts and outputs

Why we like it

This superb 17-hour course is specially designed to see you pass the grueling Autodesk Certified Professional exam.

Who Should Buy It

This custom-built course specifically targets advanced users who are preparing to take the AutoCAD for Design and Drafting Exam. Autodesk states examinees should have at least 400 hours (approximately two years) of real-world experience at a minimum, although the company recommends 1,200 hours or more.

The Review

Becoming an Autodesk Certified Professional is the highest AutoCAD accolade a user can achieve. The grueling two-hour exam delves deep into the advanced features of the software and requires a whopping 400 hours of real-world experience to attempt.

As passing the exam is no easy feat, it’s worth investing time and effort into the preparation process. And who better to teach you all the necessary skills and techniques than Autodesk themselves?

Autodesk released this specially designed exam preparation course on Coursera to help seasoned professionals prepare for the exam. With over 17 hours of in-depth tutorial videos, it covers all the necessary concepts over two weeks.

As Autodesk created the course themselves, you can rest assured you’ll learn everything you need to know and nothing else. Content includes drawing and organizing objects, advanced editing functions, printing and layouts, managing layers, applying object snaps, working with the User Coordinate System, and a whole lot more.

Although Coursera is among the priciest monthly subscription platforms in the online education space, it’s nice to know this course has been designed to take place over two weeks. That way, you can quickly cram for the exam then cancel your subscription before paying for an additional month.

Pros

  • Autodesk created course
  • Specially designed for the exam
  • The two-week timeframe is good for cramming
  • Comprehensive content

Cons

  • Only suitable for exam prep


4. Best for Architects: AutoCAD: 3D Architectural Modeling

  • 4h 26m $41 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Extrude 2D plans onto solid objects
  • Build 3D staircases
  • Model complex ceilings

Why we like it

This fantastic 3D modeling class on LinkedIn has been specially designed for budding architects who want to fortify their AutoCAD prowess.

Who Should Buy It

This AutoCAD course is intended for architects, especially those who need a little help with 3D modeling. As it’s an intermediate course, you’ll need a reasonable understanding of the platform.

AutoCAD users in other professions should give this one a miss.

The Review

Industry veteran Scott Onstott delivers this easy-to-follow 3D modeling course, which he targets squarely at the architect set. The popular LinkedIn course boasts thousands of positive reviews from the community, with many alumni praising Scott for his innate ability to explain complex theories in an easily digestible manner.

The course teaches the user to convert 2D drawings into fully functional 3D models using the power of AutoCAD. Step-by-step instructions cover essential techniques like creating wall openings, adding doors, and building 3D staircases. Once the inside is done and dusted, you’ll learn to sculpt realistic landscapes using NURBS surfaces. Then, the hands-on course has you create a 3D model for a community center using a typical midcentury design.

Overall, the course is practical, easy to follow, straight to the point (no fluff content here), and fun—a winner in our book!

Like other LinkedIn Learning courses, you’ll get a neat certificate to add to your profile at the end.

Pros

  • Specially designed for architects
  • Practical course with hands-on content
  • Instructor clearly explains complex themes
  • Fast and easy option
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Only suitable for architects


5. Best Free Course: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to AutoCAD Basics

  • Self-paced Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Explore the User Interface
  • Create 2D objects
  • Collaborate with other users

Why we like it

Autodesk brings you a hands-on instructional course to teach the basics of their best-selling platform.

Who Should Buy It

This official Autodesk training program has been specially designed for beginner users, with a series of straightforward tutorials to help bring rookies up to speed. Nonetheless, the course does link to more advanced educational content, which is suitable for intermediate to advanced users.

The self-paced, non-linear design makes it a good refresher course. As it’s free, it’s also a top option for budget-conscious learners.

The Review

This fantastic self-paced learning program comes courtesy of Autodesk themselves, so you know it’s going to be good.

The easy-to-follow guide features simple, step-by-step instructions that outline how to complete a wide range of essential AutoCAD tasks. The great thing about this approach is the user can quickly hone in on the area they need help with and skip over everything else, which is perfect for a quick refresher on a specific theme.

Another big plus to this option is how comprehensive the guide is: Autodesk has covered every tiny detail of its software. No matter how obscure your knowledge gap may be, you’ll find a way to fill it somewhere here (or in the more advanced modules).

The official Autodesk forums and discussion groups are also quite helpful. There are a vast number of active expert users on there who happily provide tailor-made advice.

On the downside, it’s not quite as engaging as other courses out there, especially some of the premium options.

Pros

  • Free
  • Official Autodesk course
  • Expansive curriculum
  • Non-linear structure lets you skip to a specific section
  • Active discussion groups

Cons

  • Less engaging than other courses


6. Best Budget Beginner Course: AutoCAD 2022 Essential Training

  • 5h 32m $42 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Hatching and gradients
  • Dimensioning techniques
  • Modifying Objects

Why we like it

It’s an easy-to-follow, beginner-friendly course that’s suitable for engineers, architects, construction managers, and product designers.

Who Should Buy It

This up-to-date AutoCAD course is perfect for beginner users from various industries, including architecture, manufacturing, construction, and product design. The content is relatively basic, so AutoCAD pros should look elsewhere.

As it’s fairly cheap, it’s a brilliant option for self-funded learners who don’t want to invest a substantial sum.

The Review

Instructor Shaun Bryant has been rereleasing annual versions of his ever-popular beginners AutoCAD course, and this particular program is the most recent offering.

Shaun has been in the design business for 30 years, working as a consultant, manager, trainer, and base-level AutoCAD user in that time. And it’s this diverse skillset that sees him excel at educating the masses: Shaun understands user requirements from a broad range of fields.

As for the program, it’s succinct, simple to follow, and straight to the point. In fact, it’s everything a good online course should be. You won’t get long-winded waffles or impertinent tangents here, just easily digestible info to help you hone your skills.

The breadth of the content is another significant selling point on this one. From workflows to object modification and advanced dimensioning techniques, you’ll learn enough essential AutoCAD info to kick start your career.

Pros

  • Easy-to-follow course
  • Highly experienced instructor
  • Succinct delivery
  • Wide array of content

Cons

  • No advanced material


7. Best University Course: AutoCAD Online Course

  • 12 months $345.00 / Flexible $295.00 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Edit sketched objects
  • Reference external drawing files
  • Script files and macros

Why we like it

With enough targeted content to keep students busy for 12 months or more, this comprehensive online course covers everything you could possibly need to know.

Who Should Buy It

This super long college course takes an entire year to complete, making it an excellent option for anyone who needs to learn how to use the more niche features of the program.

The Review

The prestigious University of Houston-Downtown offers this all-encompassing AutoCAD course.

The monumental program has been broken down into three semesters: 2D, 2D advanced, and 3D. Each portion is designed to be completed in sequence, and you can expect to spend an entire year working through them all. At the end of the program, you’ll get an official Autodesk Certificate of Completion to show off your AutoCAD chops.

Like the look of the course but not keen on committing to an entire year? The university offers a flexible option, in which you can pick and choose the bits you want to do. The flexible version contains all the same content—think videos, worksheets, assignments, quizzes. The downside is you won’t get a certificate at the end.

Pros

  • Comprehensive course
  • From a reputable American college
  • Comes with an official certificate (guided version only)

Cons

  • Too long for many learners.


8. Best Premium: AutoCAD 2021 Complete Beginners Course

  • 7.5 hours on-demand video $142 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Create buildings and layouts from scratch
  • Master XRef’s and layout tools
  • Understand AutoCAD coordinates

Why we like it

Although it’s relatively expensive, this comprehensive beginner’s course delivers all the necessary info to get a total novice using AutoCAD like a pro.

Who Should Buy It

This premium beginner’s course is perfect for rookie users who don’t mind forking out a little extra to learn the platform as quickly as possible.

Students, amateurs, hobbyists, and engineers would find the content appealing.

The Review

It’ll cost you more than other beginner-orientated courses on our list, but this superb option from Udemy is worth it for the quality of the content. The premium course covers a vast array of topics, each clearly explained for the novice user who may find the software somewhat overwhelming.

A selection of downloadable practice exercises lets the learner reinforce the knowledge obtained in the tutorial videos. These real-world applications help the student learn first-hand, rather than relying entirely on traditional mediums.

At the conclusion of the course, the learner should have a solid understanding of the basics and be in a position where they can start earning money with their newfound skills. If not, the instructor offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • Comprehensive course
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Videos and practice exercises
  • Easy-to-following sessions

Cons

  • More expensive than others
  • No advanced content


9. Best Quick Course: 60 AutoCAD Tips in 60 Minutes

  • 60 Minutes Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • File tabs
  • Command lines
  • Color schemes

Why we like it

This rapid-fire course contains a wide selection of super helpful AutoCAD hacks, which is perfect for the time-poor professional who wants to expand their knowledge quickly.

Who Should Buy It

Practicing AutoCAD professionals who want to up their game will benefit most from this official Autodesk offering. Due to the rapid-fire nature of the tuition, it’s not suitable for anyone who isn’t yet familiar with the program.

The Review

Autodesk evangelist Lynn Allen has been using AutoCAD for some 25 years now, and she’s learned a thing or two about the software in that time. But even more important than her technical expertise is her ability to cover topics in a humorous and engaging way; it’s a knack that’s led Lynn to become one of the most highly sought-after speakers at Autodesk University.

In this crash course, Lynn presents a plethora of powerful productivity hacks with tips and tricks to help intermediate and veteran users alike. The whirlwind course covers 60 topics in 60 minutes, yet Lynn manages to explain each point sufficiently in just 60 seconds. To help reinforce your newfound knowledge, you get access to an array of relevant handouts and practice sheets.

As the jam-packed video lecture is a little too quick to appeal to new users, give this one a miss if you haven’t gained much AutoCAD experience.

Pros

  • Fast-paced course
  • Large number of quick productivity tips
  • Humorous and engaging instructor

Cons

  • Way too quick for beginners


10. Best for Digital Design: CAD and Digital Manufacturing Specialization

  • 6 months at three hours per week $59 per month Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Obtain Autodesk credentials
  • Design a search and rescue drone
  • Digital manufacturing

Why we like it

This in-depth course from Coursera is a worthy consideration if you don’t mind spending the monthly subscription fee.

Who Should Buy It

While this in-depth course features plenty of information on CAD, it’s equally focused on digital manufacturing. Therefore, the course is only really suitable for students interested in entering this specific field.

Other AutoCAD users, such as architects and engineers, need not apply.

The Review

Budding digital manufacturing specialists should enroll in this highly regarded option to hone their knowledge and skills. The superb Coursera course takes around six months to complete at an average pace of three hours per week: that’s slow enough for a busy professional to pull off.

The intermediate course comes courtesy of Autodesk, and the company provides an official certification at the end so you can show off your new skills. You’ll learn a wide range of digital design-related topics within the course, from 3D model creation to engineering design.

What’s more, towards the end of the course, you’ll learn how to design a real-world search and rescue drone—how cool is that?

The self-paced course covers videos, downloadable articles, quizzes, and assignments.

While it’s a fantastic offering that’s earned stellar feedback on Coursera, be aware that this is very much a specialist course. If you’re just looking to learn AutoCAD and nothing else, you should focus your attention elsewhere. Nonetheless, for the digital design gurus of tomorrow, it’s well worth a look.

More interested in mechanical engineering? Try this one instead.

Pros

  • Great for digital manufacturing professionals
  • Self-paced course with a wide variety of content
  • Comes with official Autodesk certification
  • Design a real-world drone
  • Reputable option with excellent feedback

Cons

  • Only a small portion is dedicated to AutoCAD


AutoCAD: FAQ

If you’ve still got lingering AutoCAD-related questions, there’s a good chance you’ll find the answers in the following FAQ.

We firmly believe that AutoCAD is the top computer-aided design tool on the market today. Nonetheless, there are a few worthy alternatives to consider, especially if you’re on a tight budget. One such option is SketchUp, which offers a wide array of potent 3D modeling functions for free.

You certainly can. With patience, perseverance, and the right online course, it’s possible to teach yourself how to master the art of AutoCAD design. We’ve covered the top 10 AutoCAD courses on the internet to point you in the right direction.

Although it’s possible to learn the ropes without investing a dime, it’s usually worth paying for a premium course. Generally speaking, paid courses provide better, more in-depth information and span a wide range of mediums to enhance the learning process. Nonetheless, if you really can’t afford to spend money on a course, check out our top free option, The Hitchhikers Guide to AutoCAD.

Costing well over a grand per year, AutoCAD doesn’t come cheap, even as premium programs go. The reason the program costs so much is due to its complexity. AutoCAD is a powerful platform capable of performing a wide range of task-specific functions, all of which cost a considerable sum to develop. Furthermore, AutoCAD has a relatively small customer base; it simply doesn’t have the audience that a big-name software suite like Photoshop does.

Although it may appear overwhelmingly confusing at first, AutoCAD is remarkably simple to learn. Any industry professional can quickly pick up the basic functions of the program, especially if they’ve enlisted in an appropriate online course. It will take some effort on the student’s part, but the learning process is relatively straightforward.

Absolutely. In fact, we’ve covered the top 10 online AutoCAD courses on the internet today, so you can do just that.

The time it takes to learn AutoCAD depends entirely on what you need to learn. Nonetheless, to transition from an absolute rookie into a competent AutoCAD user, expect to spend about 40 hours learning the ropes. That equates to an hour per day (Mon-Fri) for two months.



Extra Credit: Essential AutoCAD Info

AutoCAD computer-aided design program

Before you invest the time in learning how to master AutoCAD, it’s worth getting some background info about the program. In this section, we provide additional information on the world’s most popular computer-aided design application.

Who Should Use AutoCAD?

Wondering whether AutoCAD is worth learning? The powerful program is highly beneficial for anyone working in a design-related field. The following professions tend to get the most value out of an AutoCAD subscription.

  • Architects
  • Drafters
  • Industrial Designers
  • Engineers
  • Project Managers
  • Graphic Designers
  • Construction Managers
  • City Planners

That’s not an exhaustive list; however, plenty of other design-centered professions use AutoCAD in their day-to-day life.

The AutoCAD Exam

Autodesk offers two comprehensive tests to certify a student’s AutoCAD chops.

Autodesk Certified User is the low-end exam; it’s aimed at users with at least 150 hours of real-world AutoCAD experience. The next level up is the Autodesk Certified Professional exam; examinees should clock 400 hours or more of AutoCAD experience before attempting this one.

Both exams are undertaken online. The price varies from $90 up to $200 per attempt, depending on the city you live in. Don’t stress if you fail the first time around, as you can make up to three attempts within any 12-month period.

Once you pass, you’ll get an official Autodesk certification to add to your CV, which is valid for three years. After three years have passed, you’ll need to sit the test again to retain your certification.

The exam takes two hours and consists of 40 questions. As there’s no negative marking for incorrect answers, it’s in your best interest to answer every question, even if it’s just a guess.

The best way to prepare for the exam is to take a specially designed AutoCAD exam prep course. We recommend AutoCAD for Design and Drafting Exam Prep.

To sit the exam, get in touch with Certiport.

AutoCAD Price

There’s no point learning how to use AutoCAD if you (or your company) aren’t prepared to pay the ongoing subscription fee.

As a specialist software application, AutoCAD doesn’t come cheap. Autodesk, the company that created the program, currently charges an annual subscription fee of $1,775. A three-year subscription will cost $4,795, a saving of $530.

If you just want to use AutoCAD for a short period, a monthly subscription costs $220. Note, however, that Autodesk offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on their annual plan.

AutoCAD LT is significantly cheaper. This watered-down version only costs $440 for one year, $1190 for three years, or $55 monthly.

Students and educators can obtain a free version of the program under a 12-month license for educational use. The license prohibits commercial use, and a watermark is embedded in all exported files to discourage illicit practices.

AutoCAD LT

Autodesk first released AutoCAD LT in 1993 to cater to low-budget businesses and freelancers who couldn’t afford the hefty AutoCAD fee. This light version of the program is missing many of the more advanced features but comes at a considerably lower cost.

There are numerous advanced functions missing from AutoCAD LT, the most significant being:

  • It can’t create and render 3D models and 3D printing
  • It can’t be used on more than one machine in the same network
  • It doesn’t support LISP, ARX, .NET, and VBA customization
  • It doesn’t support Sheet Set Manager and Action Recorder automation and management capabilities

AutoCAD Compatibility

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Autodesk exclusively offered AutoCAD to Windows users. Thankfully, however, the company decided to start offering its flagship program to Mac users in 2010 and continues to support the operating system today.

The latest version of AutoCAD is compatible with Windows 7 up to Windows 10 and iOS X 10.11 (El Capitan) or later.

Linux users could use AutoCAD if they run the program through a virtual machine, such as VirtualBox.

Start Honing Your AutoCAD Skills

In this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know about learning AutoCAD, from the top considerations to exam cramming and the various versions.

Now that you’re up to speed on the nitty-gritty details, it’s time to peruse our top recommendations and choose the course that’s right for you.

Like learning any other new skill, mastering AutoCAD will take some time and effort. But once you’ve wrapped your head around this powerful program, you’ll be in a privileged position to start earning big bucks as an architect, designer, or engineer.

Best of luck!