【2024】How to learn CAD: Explaining popular courses

Computer Aided Design (CAD) is a technology developed for designers to help them create, modify, analyse or optimise a design. This technology is based on software tools designed to increase the productivity of the designer, improve the quality of the design, automate the design process and create realistic projects and concepts.

CAD software offers a wide range of applications including prototype development, simulation of machining or manufacturing processes, rendering, animation and many other design tools used to bring a designer’s ideas to life.

Benefits of learning CAD

Investing your time in mastering a CAD tool can bring many benefits besides learning a new skill. Here’s a brief list of the main benefits.

  • Learning CAD software can help develop spatial awareness and creative thinking skills, providing tools to conceptualise abstract ideas and turn models into reality.
  • It helps people pursue personal projects by digitising a concept or idea and presenting it in an editable format. This allows an idea to be created, modified and played with in many ways in a virtual environment.
  • It opens up new career opportunities for professionals and enthusiasts, as mastering a CAD programme or being a proficient user of a CAD tool can make you a highly competitive prospect in any recruitment process. Companies want skilled designers, architects and engineers on their staff, and learning how to use CAD software will make the difference between other CVs and yours.
  • Digital and cloud-based programmes allow people to work from home and explore freelance opportunities. Learning CAD could turn into a new source of income or a side hustle for you, as there are thousands of online job opportunities for CAD designers around the world. This has become a growing source of jobs and it’s expected to continue to grow.

What is CAD? | Learn about the features of design software

Skills you will develop when learning CAD

Skills you will develop when learning CAD

The learning Pathway to learn how to use any CAD software should focus on:

  • Develop spatial reasoning skills
  • Understand parametric feature-based design, coordinate systems and units
  • Use the software interface and basic 2D and 3D tools Learn to use commands, create shapes and lines, set dimensions and move around the workspace
  • Learn to import and export documents, save features, work with files in different formats and print.
  • Create assemblies, work in layers, basic 3D modelling operations and complementary tools
  • Adding constraints, creating equations, generative design and design for manufacture

Best online courses to learn CAD

We will introduce the CAD learning method recommended by our staff.

Autodesk-approved seminars

We recommend that you attend an Autodesk accredited course. You can learn through videos, so you can watch them at work or at home.
There are only a few courses accredited by Autodesk, so check here.


Udemy is an online teaching and learning platform with thousands of courses in different subjects, languages and modalities. On this platform, teachers upload videos, share documents with students and open discussion forums to interact with their students. Udemy has many affordable options for CAD courses (some under $20), so you can choose the course you like best and review the course content, resources and reviews before enrolling. You can search for a course using keywords related to the CAD software of your choice.


Coursera is an American provider of massive open online courses for learners around the world. Coursera partners with universities and colleges to allow students to enrol in online courses, certifications and degrees from prestigious institutions around the world. It has the advantage of offering students a free trial of thousands of courses and programmes, but most require payment if you want to be graded on quizzes and exams and receive an official course certificate. Coursera offers specialised CAD courses from international universities and CAD software companies such as Autodesk, Rhinos and Siemens.

YouTube Channels

YouTube is always a great way to start learning a new skill or just to get audiovisual information on almost any subject you can think of. Tutorials are actually an affordable way to get started with new CAD software. Of course, YouTube is affordable because all the information available is completely free, but it is more advisable to use YouTube to learn CAD tricks, tips or short lessons on specific CAD programs. It can definitely help you clear up doubts, improve your skills or provide a broad introduction to any CAD platform.

Companies Training programs

Major CAD software companies, such as Autodesk and SolidWorks, often offer users training programmes and courses on their websites that can be included as part of the licence cost. They provide the most accurate and up-to-date information about their software and will guide you through the use of their programmes and the CAD tools they offer. Of course, most of these courses are only available to users who belong to their communities and have already purchased a specific CAD licence or plan.

How to choose a CAD software for beginners

As stated above, there are many aspects to consider when it comes to choosing the appropriate CAD software for you, in this sense here’s a list of the key factors you need to keep in mind when making that decision:


This is an important factor when making any financial decision and will always depend on the user´s budget. In terms of costs, the most affordable CAD software in the market is FreeCAD, LibreCAD (both open-source programs), Fusion 360 (the most affordable Autodesk license), SketchUp, and Rhino 3D.

Application and field of study

Some of the CAD software on the market offers specific tools for certain fields to help users create their drawings efficiently. For architects and interior designers, AutoCAD and SketchUp are the most popular programmes. For mechanical engineers, Inventor, SolidWorks and Fusion 360 are the best options. For jewellery design, many users like Rhino 3D and for the automotive industry, CATIA is the top CAD software.

Hardware and software requirements

Some CAD software requires powerful hardware and large amounts of graphics memory to work properly. Also, some CAD software is not supported on free operating systems such as Linux (such as Autodesk’s software) or doesn’t have a licence to run on Apple’s iOS (such as SolidWorks). With this in mind, it is always important to check the hardware and software requirements of a programme before purchasing.

Level of difficulty

Some CAD programs require more training to create drawings and master their tools than others. Professional CAD software such as CATIA or SolidWorks is not as easy to use as other programs such as Fusion 360, so it is up to the learner to spend more time familiarising themselves with the software. However, there are always online guides and tutorials that can make learning CAD much easier.

Best CAD software to start learning CAD

Today, there are many options available for 2D and 3D modelling software. Engineers, architects and designers tend to specialise in a particular programme or platform based on its features, interface and design tools. There are CAD programmes that are more specialised, such as SketchUp (mainly used by architects and interior designers) or Autodesk Inventor (designed for mechanical engineers).

However, learning any CAD software can help beginners understand other programs and become familiar with CAD design, how to create models and how to establish a design path.

Whatever your preferred software, you need to consider your field of work, the purpose of your designs and which tool is more appropriate and affordable for you. Some designers suggest starting with free open-source CAD software, especially if you are just an enthusiast. However, if you want to make a career out of CAD design, you may want to start with professional software.

Here are three software options for getting started with CAD:



FreeCAD is a free, open-source 3D parametric modelling software with the ability to recreate objects and modify their features and properties in the design process. It also allows 2D sketching with the ability to constrain shapes and geometries and to adjust or extract details from 3D models to create highly professional drawings. It is an excellent option for starting to create your first models because it is easy to use and there are no licence fees.

FreeCAD is a very accessible software and it’s compatible with all operating systems such as Linux, MAC and Windows in any version. It also integrates and manages different file formats such as STEP, IGES, STL, DXF, SVG, OBJ and DAE. Thanks to its format versatility, it’s a great feature to import drawings from other popular software such as AutoCAD, Fusion 360 or SolidWorks.

It can be a useful tool for professionals and students in engineering and architecture and includes simulation and analysis tools such as Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Stress Analysis of Elements and CAM/CNC Workbenches.

Fusion 360

Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is a cloud-based CAD/CAM/CAE software developed by Autodesk. It combines simple and dynamic modelling options with versatility to create manufacturable designs, prototypes and solids. It also offers simulation and CAM options that make Fusion 360 unique in the computer-aided design market.

This software has gained popularity over the past few years due to its versatility, easy-to-use interface and the fact that it is the most affordable professional CAD/CAM design option on the market. This software has a steep learning curve, making it easy for beginners and intermediate users to understand the programme and deliver professional looking models.

Fusion 360 offers a variety of options in the product development process, including 3D modelling (design), rendering, manufacturing, 2D drafting and CAM toolpath generation for CNC machines. A unique feature of Fusion 360 is its integrated CAD/CAM environment and its specific tools for 3D printing, making this software the first choice for beginners and enthusiasts of 3D printing technology.

Fusion 360 is known for having a beginner-friendly interface, as it contains more condensed commands and it’s more visually dynamic than other CAD/CAM software.

The software works with its own file formats (F3Z and F3D), but also integrates non-native formats such as STEP, DXF, STL and IGES to incorporate graphical data with different engineering and manufacturing purposes.

Similar to other Autodesk CAD programs, it offers a free 30-day trial and a free one-year student version, with renewable options for students and professors. The standard version of the software starts at $545/year with upgrades and maintenance included.

More information about Fusion 360 is available in this article.

Simple introduction to using Fusion 360! – Explanation of operations and commands


AutoCAD was the first CAD software developed for industrial and personal use, and its robust interface and design tools make it the most popular CAD software on the market. AutoCAD is the number one programme taught in universities and schools around the world and is the first name that comes to mind when people talk about CAD design.

AutoCAD is designed for designers to design and draw 2D and 3D models using graphical controls and commands. AutoCAD is used by a wide range of professionals. Depending on their field of work, some designers focus on 2D modelling (architects and civil engineers), while others focus on 3D modelling and 2D manufacturing plans (product designers and artists).

AutoCAD is well known for its ability to produce 2D drawings of floor plans, sections, electrical, piping, fabrication or any other flat representation, as well as 2D drawings for CNC fabrication and other cutting machines. It also provides high quality renderings and 3D models for prototyping and machining processes.


The software works with its local file format, DWG, which contains all the drawing information. It also allows users to export files such as DXF to Adobe as PDFs, and as it was the first commercial CAD software on the market, many other programs use the DWG format, making it very versatile and universal. It also offers many options for exporting files in the 3D environment, such as STL, OBJ, DAE, 3ds and so on.

AutoCAD, like other software developed by Autodesk, offers a free 30-day trial and a free student version to encourage CAD users and promote education. Although the student version only lasts for one year, it’s a renewable licence available to students and professors. The standard version starts at $1600/year with upgrades and maintenance included. Its competitive cost and versatility make AutoCAD one of the top CAD/CAM programmes on the market.

Because AutoCAD is still considered the “universal” CAD software for millions of people around the world, many beginners choose AutoCAD to start learning CAD, and then transfer that knowledge to other software as needed.

AutoCAD Online Training Course

AutoCAD Online Training Course

There are so many e-learning opportunities and online training courses available that it can be difficult to know where to start. There are courses designed for people who have little or no experience of AutoCAD, to courses designed for people who are very familiar with AutoCAD but need to learn about the more advanced features of this highly sophisticated software. Knowing what to choose in order to improve your skills and not waste your money can be difficult with all the options on offer. Sometimes it can feel extremely difficult to choose, especially if you are just starting out on your AutoCAD journey. Don’t lose hope just yet.

If you are just starting out on your AutoCAD journey and are looking for a top quality beginner’s guide to AutoCAD. Look no further than CADLab’s very own ‘AutoCAD Beginners Online Course’. This course has been developed over time and is designed for people with little to no knowledge of AutoCAD who want to get up to speed and interested in this incredibly comprehensive programme.

This course will teach you how to use AutoCAD’s user-friendly interface as well as a number of important features within the programme. Learning these interfaces and features will give you an edge in the competitive world we live in today.

Below is a breakdown of everything you will learn on this course:

  • AutoCAD screen operations and initial settings
  • Create objects (line segments, circles, arcs, polylines, rectangles, centerlines, etc.)
  • Select objects (basic, quick selection, similar selection)
  • Using drawing aids (grid and snap, object snap tracking, etc.)
  • Editing objects (move, offset, rotate, trim, fillet, stretch, etc.)
  • Layers and properties (layer settings, object properties)
  • Reusing content (shapes) (block definition, placement, editing, attribute definition)
  • Annotative text (text entry, multi-text, editing, styling)
  • Annotative dimensions (fills, multileader, edit, style settings)
  • Annotative hatches (create, edit)
  • Layout usage (page setup, create viewport, control panel)
  • Annotative scaling (settings)
  • Drawing comparison functions
  • Templates (create drawing templates)
  • Data management and utilization (external referencing, linking DWG files)

All of these tools are presented and explained in an easy to understand manner and at a pace that is not too fast for you to understand.

Do you want to know how to register for the course offered by CADLab? Simply click on the link provided and you will be taken to a page that will give you a breakdown of the course and a simple 3 step purchase method.