AutoCAD is one of the dominant CAD software till this day (2023) and remain an essential software to learn by professionals in the AEC industry – architects, interior designers, engineers, and contractors. AutoCAD is a software by Autodesk, one of the top companies that specialize in engineering software and the maker of many classic software tools (Revit, 3DsMax, Maya … to name a few)
Learning AutoCAD (basics) will take about 20 hours of watching/reading about the different concepts that make up the software – then you need at least another 20-100 hours of practicing and trying the different concepts you learned. All in all, I would say can be learnt in under a 100 hours combined.
The Journey to Learning AutoCAD
If that TLDR answer didn’t satisfy your heart, then lets dive in the longer version and talk about learning AutoCAD.
As an Autocad trainer, I often get this question “How long does it take to learn Autocad? and my answer is always:
It depends …
First of all, you need to understand that you can’t just learn Autocad, definitely not the entire software – Unless you are planning to specialize in using it and be a CAD expert.
Becoming a CAD expert can be a bumpy road with a lot of frustration but honestly, being comfortable with AutoCAD allowed me to navigate all other design software comfortably. At heart, almost all design software have the same features with different ways to represent it.
What I like to tell people is to realize that there are levels of expertise when it comes to using AutoCAD.
Not only that, but there are also 2 main flavors of the Autocad software:
- Autocad LT
The Autocad LT version is essentially a 2D drawing software only. The other Autocad (the full version) has 2D drawing tools, 3D modeling tools, and visualization tools. A more detailed comparison is here
I should mention AutoCAD Web specially that it has been in the scene for a while at this point – it’s worth mentioning that none of my peers, clients, or friends use it or work with it. So not really sure how popular is this version and I personally haven’t found a reason to use it.
Now back to the 2 main flavors I was mentioning earlier: If you are planning to use 2D tools mainly, go with Autocad LT for sure. No need to bother with the full version or pay its hefty price tag. You can get AutoCAD LT for a little under $500/Year
Let’s talk about the levels of expertise – since I mainly use Autocad LT, I will be talking about levels of expertise in using the light version:
AutoCAD LT Levels
Level 1 – Autocad LT Essentials:
- Understanding the interface, navigation, selection, and Units setup.
- Learning basic drawing commands.
- Learning basic modifying commands.
- Drawing basic layouts (simple floor plan or elevations).
Level 2 – Introduction to Autocad LT:
- Understanding drafting settings such as Snap settings.
- Working with geometry grips (vertices).
- Creating basic blocks.
- Creating and using basic Layers.
- Using Annotation commands (Text, Dimension, Leader).
- Setting up a layout (paper space) with proper paper size & printing settings.
- Using a template file.
Level 3 – Advanced Autocad LT:
- Learning advanced drawing commands. (Hatch command).
- Learning advanced modifying commands. (Array command).
- Drawing complex layouts (reflected ceiling plans, sections, details).
- Creating Annotation styles (Text, Dimension, Leader)
- Creating complex blocks (with attributes).
- Using and creating a full list of layers.
- Creating a template file.
- Basic use of external references (images, pdfs, Dwg)
Level 4 – Expert Autocad LT:
- Creating Titleblocks.
- Creating dynamic blocks.
- Cross-referencing multiple drawings.
- Using Sheet Set Manager (Windows) or Project Manager (Mac).
- Setup proper project folders (Xrefs)
- Creating smart Tables (schedules)
- Knows all drawing commands.
- Knows all modifying commands.
- Knows all Layer settings for the same drawing and Xrefs.
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Rule of thumb I personally use when it comes to learning anything is 20 hours – so 20 hours for each level = 80 hours to “learn to become” an Expert in Autocad LT.
Learning Autocad for 80 hours will not make you an expert if you don’t put as much time in practicing it, making mistakes, reading online, watching YouTube videos and asking your peers on how to use it when you run into problems.
For most designers (interior designers, architects), knowing the essentials and the introduction is important. Learning the advanced features will give you much more flexibility when designing and working with other professionals (engineers, kitchen & bath designers, specialty consultants & contractors).
Expert level features are more commonly learned by CAD managers & drafting specialists who handle setting up CAD standards for companies, firms. and handle the transfer of large files or managing complex projects (think a hospital, train station, airport)
Learn AutoCAD With Me
Are you a student or a professional in the AEC industry and looking to learn Autocad or improve your existing skills? Look no further!
I offer Autocad training for new learners & advanced users. I offer flexible scheduling, bundle pricing, exercises, and best practices when it comes to using AutoCAD and
Visit our Education page to learn some more & fill the form to get in touch!