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CAD Training Courses – Everything You Need To Know

People Working at a Desk

If you’ve kept up with Scan2CAD’s blog, you’ll know just how important CAD software is. It’s integral to the foundations of most industries—from architecture to entertainment to aerospace. This heavy prevalence of CAD software means that CAD skills have become increasingly vital for prospective careers. As such, many people nowadays have began to turn towards CAD training. But what exactly does this entail?

Find out with Scan2CAD’s exclusive guide covering everything you need to know about CAD training. From the types of CAD courses available, and the benefits of training, to top training courses, we’ll provide you with all the essential information. 


Table of contents


Computer Aided Design

Computer Aided Design (CAD) software is used across industries and disciplines worldwide. As we’ve discussed in our guide to how CAD changed product design, great advancements in CAD software have reduced the prevalence of manual drawing techniques. Using CAD, designers and engineers can create 2D and 3D animation, drawings and advertisements. This importance has led to CAD skills being extremely sought-out in almost every industry out there.

As a result, many degrees now feature CAD software in their syllabus. For example, architectural students might use Autodesk’s Revit during their bachelor’s degree. Not all CAD software packages are used in university courses, however, which often leads to some people having greater skills in one package over another. This is problematic if you’re applying for a job that favors a package you’re unfamiliar with. In addition, you might find that a CAD package you were familiar with ten years ago has changed dramatically. So, what can you do? 

CAD training is the answer…

CAD training courses are available to help people learn how to use CAD software. These courses differ depending on what you’re looking for. There are general CAD courses that take you through basic concepts and techniques in 2D and 3D design, modeling and rendering. There are also more specific CAD training courses that teach you how to use specific software like SolidWorks, AutoCAD and Revit

CAD training is an option for people with any level of expertise—from beginner to expert. Instead of going through random CAD tutorials on YouTube, you can look at courses that use a professional syllabus or guide. 


Why is CAD training useful?

In demand

As we’ve mentioned, CAD skills are high in demand in today’s job market. CAD training therefore enables you to expand your expertise to stand out in such a competitive job market. There are many jobs out there that require the knowledge of CAD software—take a look at some examples below…

  • Drafters: use software like AutoCAD to convert designs into technical drawings or blueprints. These drawings can be used to create structures, tools and machines. 
  • Engineers: make use of CAD software to produce designs and specifications for the manufacturing and modification of mechanical components or systems. 
  • Architects: use software like Revit to create floor plans and 3D renderings of structures. They can use it to analyze a building’s components and structural integrity. 
  • Designers: make use of CAD software to create 2D models and 3D renderings of their designs. They can include aspects like surface features and interior features. 

And that’s not all! There are dozens of additional industries that require CAD skills, like the media and entertainment sector. The more software packages you can master or familiarize yourself with, the more valuable you become to your current or prospective employer. 

Experience matters…

As we discussed in our blog post covering CAD salaries, experience can have a huge impact on your salary through the years. The longer you work in a discipline, the more appealing you become to potential employers. Entry-level employees typically get a lower salary compared to experienced or late career employees—as you can see below. 

Length of Career CAD Drafters CAD Technicians CAD Designers CAD Engineers
Late Career (20 years+) Clipart image of a green triangle 24% Clipart image of a green triangle 38% Clipart image of a green triangle 30% Clipart image of a green triangle 24%
Experienced (10-20 years) Clipart image of a green triangle 19% Clipart image of a green triangle 24% Clipart image of a green triangle 13% Clipart image of a green triangle 10%
Mid-Career (5-10 years) Clipart image of a green triangle 6% Clipart image of a green triangle 7% Clipart image of a green triangle 2% Clipart image of a green triangle 7%
National Average $40,000 $40,000 $48,000 $56,000
Entry-Level (0-5 years) Upside down red triangle -9% Upside down red triangle -10% Upside down red triangle -14% Upside down red triangle -9%

Source: PayScale

Going through additional CAD training to get a certificate or additional experience can also have an impact on your salary. If you’re a job seeker, you’ll want to do anything you can to highlight your expertise to potential employers. If you’re an established professional, CAD training is the perfect way to stay relevant in your career. Technology is always advancing, which means that CAD software is always changing—keeping up with these changes therefore increases your chances of career advancement. 

CAD training isn’t just beneficial for individuals, however: it’s also relevant for companies. Many businesses nowadays opt to outsource CAD work to professionals because they lack qualified or experienced employees. While outsourcing can be cheaper than employing a CAD professional, it’s arguably much cheaper and easier to invest in in-house CAD training. Many course providers offer training for multiple employees at a training center, or even at your office.

But it’s not all about jobs…

If you’re a hobbyist, CAD training can be vitally important in helping you get to grips with specific types of CAD software. For example, you might have been interested in replicating Scan2CAD’s top 3D CAD models in SolidWorks. CAD training can be the perfect way to familiarize yourself with software of your choosing. Before you know it, you could be creating your very own laser-etched plaque!


Benefits of CAD training

Desk with a view

CAD training is a cost-effective venture. Arguably, the cost of earning certification through a training course can be cheaper than enrolling at a college for further education—e.g. a master’s degree. The beauty of CAD training is that it can be extremely flexible. Some courses allow you to take classes on a part-time basis so that you can work it around your existing schedule. In addition, the length of courses varies depending on your experience level. If you’re just looking for a quick refresher, you could even be done in a day or two. 

As we’ll discuss below, CAD training providers offer different methods of training. The most popular and accessible method is online CAD training, which comes with even more advantages…

  • It’s cheaper. Online training can be much cheaper than in-class training—for starters, you don’t have to pay for fuel or parking! Course providers also tend to ship out course materials and software at no additional cost. 
  • It’s at your own pace. Some courses involve strict timelines, but online training often allows you to work at your own pace. Instead of struggling to keep up with an entire class, you can concentrate on topics for as long as you’d like. 
  • It’s refreshing. Online training means that you don’t have to sit in a loud or distracting classroom. You can learn in the comfort of your own home. Of course, there are in-class courses for those who prefer a traditional environment. 
  • You can do it any time. You can register for most online training courses whenever you want—unlike with a college degree, there’s no set registration date. 

What types of courses are there?

Authorized Courses

Authorized training courses are offered by course providers that have been authorized by companies like Autodesk and Dassault Systèmes to teach courses involving their software to learners. This means that, often enough, you’ll receive official certification after completing your course or exam. Autodesk certification, for example, is industry-recognized and can be added to your resume. This is incredibly useful in helping you increase your success in your career, as we’ve discussed in our ultimate guide for CAD job seekers.

Some course providers offer this training at their own centers or in a traditional classroom environment. At the other end of the spectrum is online training with self-paced learning and virtual instructors. The syllabus and length of these courses depends on your level of expertise. Through this training, you’ll learn how to use specific CAD software through a variety of media types—from webinars, to slides, to videos.

College Programs

It’s also possible to complete a CAD training course with some colleges. This varies from courses focusing on general CAD drafting programs, to those specifically dedicated to the learning of AutoCAD, for example. These courses can be completed in a traditional classroom environment or online. You could even choose to complete them as a 6-month full-time program, or as part of a 12-month part-time program. These courses come with flexibility and a professional syllabus that takes you through the vital skills you need in a CAD career. At the end of the course, you’ll receive a certificate that highlights your expertise in CAD.

You can even opt for distance learning with some college programs. It can be a flexible way of studying—you can do everything at your own pace. The only dates that are fixed are exams and assessments. It’s cheaper than an entire degree, but keep in mind that it can still be relatively costly.

Non-credited Courses

If you don’t quite fancy forking out money for authorized training or a college program, non-credited courses can be a cheaper alternative. As the name suggests, these training courses don’t offer certification or credit once you’ve completed them.

One of the biggest disadvantages to these training courses is that they only scratch the surface. They don’t come with a professional syllabus or certification. Arguably, this is only really an issue if you’re looking to advance your career or resume. If you’re looking to master software so that you can complete your own hobbyist projects, however, you won’t exactly need professional certification.

There are, of course, additional resources to take advantage of. There are many free training courses out there. In addition, many software providers offer their own learning resources and courses. If you’re a student, you have access to dozens of popular CAD software and resources for free. For more information, check out the students’ guide to free CAD and resources

Degrees

Training programs aren’t the only way you can receive CAD training. Many degrees out there offer their own form of training with particular CAD software packages. If you haven’t yet completed any further education, you might want to consider it before you try out CAD training or certification. After all, if you’re looking for a lucrative career, you’ll need to have obtained a degree to be viable for anything beyond entry-level jobs—as we mentioned in our post on AutoCAD careers.  There are three main types of degrees which will help you progress to different stages in your career: 

  • Associate’s degree: a 2-year degree which can be taken at any technical institute. It opens up the door to entry-level positions. 
  • Bachelor’s degree: a 4-5-year degree which can be completed at colleges or online schools. It can often be the first required step for some careers. 
  • Master’s degree: a 2-year degree that is pursued after a bachelor’s degree. It can highlight expertise in a field and is an advised step for candidates who want to pursue higher salaries. 

These degrees will teach you how to use CAD software in relation to your job industry or discipline. For example, if you’re an architect taking a bachelor’s degree, you’ll learn how to use Revit and BIM. While obtaining authorized certification is beneficial in highlighting your expertise with a software package, you’ll still only be able to access entry-level careers if you haven’t got the right degree. If you’ve already got your associate’s (or other) degree, additional CAD training and certification can further increase the likelihood of career advancement. 


Which course is best for me?

Road directions

Now that you know what types of CAD training courses are available, you might be wondering which one is best for you. Ultimately, it all depends on what you want to get out of a CAD training course. If you’re a hobbyist looking to brush up on your skills, you don’t need to be forking out a lot of money for training. You can quite easily take advantage of the many free or cheap training courses and resources out there. In fact, it’s even possible to teach yourself how to use CAD software—as we’ve shown in our AutoCAD and SolidWorks tips and tricks for newbies

If you’re a job seeker or professional looking to boost your resume and skillset, however, you might find it’s worth breaking the bank for a decent course. Choosing an online authorized course, for example, can enable you to fit your training around your job searching. While it can be costly, you can get certification at the end which you can add to your resume. Extra certification always sets you apart from other job seekers.

Factors to take into consideration when choosing a course…

  • Online or in-class: do you learn better at your own pace or in a traditional classroom? Some training courses are only available online, whereas others offer you the chance to experience learning in a more fixed environment.
  • Cost: if you’re only looking for a refresh with a particular CAD package, you should look for a relatively cheap course. If you’re looking to get certified for your career, then you should look into an authorized course—bear in mind the cost for your training and exams. 
  • Learning medium: what kind of learning methods does the course provide? If you’re someone who learns best by reading, you might not mind courses that offer purely textual guides. If you learn better by seeing and doing, you might prefer courses with virtual instructors and videos.
  • Support: does the course offer additional support? Some courses provide virtual instructors who are always on hand to answer any of your queries; others don’t. If you’d rather not spend hours googling any of your queries, make sure your course has 24/7 support.
  • Experience level: does the course fit your experience level? You don’t want to rush into choosing a course, as you might end up buying a course that provides you with beginner-level training despite the fact you’re on an advanced level, for example.

CAD training courses

1. Authorized Training Courses

CTO's logoCAD Training Online

CTO is an Autodesk authorized training provider. You can take their courses online or at one of their training centers. They cover general CAD courses, like AutoCAD Introduction; architectural courses, including Revit; Civil and Survey courses like Infraworks; and manufacturing courses covering Autodesk Inventor. CTO doesn’t just provide one way of teaching—it has a range of training methods…

  • Online virtual classroom training: this will be presented by a live instructor in a virtual classroom where students conference via the internet. 
  • Online self-paced training: this is great for people who learn better at their own pace—using training videos, hands-on exercises and self-assessments. 
  • Company dedicated training: brings a course to your company or departments. It’s perfect for groups who have adopted new software. 
  • Custom tailored training: CTO develops custom curricula based on your requirements that can then be taught at a training center, online or at your office. 

AutoCAD Introduction 

This course takes beginners through AutoCAD software for the first time. You can take the instructor led course ($1,125 or $1,520) in which training materials are shipped directly to you and you get AutoCAD software to use for 30 days. CTO sets scheduled dates and times for classes, and gives you an Autodesk certification of completion at the end of the course.

Alternatively, you can take the self-paced course ($395, $525 or $845) in which all training materials are available online 24/7. You can also make use of AutoCAD software for a full 30 days. 

Revit Architecture BIM Management 

This course is only available in an instructor-led format. You have to pick two days from a scheduled list. You’ll then complete 8 hours of training per day, resulting in 16 hours of overall training. CTO will ship all training materials directly to you, and allow you to retake the class as many times as you want. 

Symmetry Solutions

Symmetry Solutions's logoSymmetry Solutions is the official SolidWorks training provider for the Upper Midwest. It provides training programs that are hosted online or at one of the training center locations. They offer SolidWorks-certified instructor-led training courses that can help you improve your skills, build your resume or learn how to use SolidWorks for the first time.

You can take these courses at one of their official training centers, offering you a more traditional learning environment. Or, you can take online training classes which are live, interactive, and taught by SolidWorks-certified application engineers. Each online class is held in a series of four hour sessions, so you’ll only spend half of your day training. Symmetry Solutions provide access to SolidWorks software, so you don’t have to buy an individual license. Examples of their courses include:

  • CAD courses: this includes topics like SolidWorks essentials, drawings, advanced part modeling and surface modeling. 
  • CAD advanced courses: including aspects like mold design, piping and tubing, and API fundamentals. 
  • Simulation courses: this include sub-courses like motion, flow simulation and simulation premium dynamics. 
  • Technical communication courses: this covers using SolidWorks Composer, SolidWorks Inspection and model based definitions. 
  • PDM courses: covering how to use PDM, the API fundamentals of PDM professional and using PDM standard. 
  • Electrical courses: this includes electrical schematics, electrical 3D and electrical advanced. 

2. College Programs

Digital School

Digital school's logoDigital School Technical Design College is a private vocational post-secondary college. It has provided CAD training to hundreds of students in full-time diploma programs and part-time industry training. Its flexible course calendar means that you can enrol and start every 6 weeks.

Computer Aided Drafter Certificate (Online)

This course can be completed as a six-month full-time program, or as a 12-month part-time program. You can learn in an online training format that includes text, audio, demonstrations, exercises and videos. The course covers aspects including:  

  • Building Information Management
  • AutoCAD essentials
  • Surveying techniques
  • Construction methods
  • Technical specifications
  • Inventor essentials

Ashworth College

Ashworth college's logoAshworth College offers learners an online AutoCAD training package that will show you how to use all of AutoCAD’s features, from commands to isometric models to 3D models. You gain access to a comprehensive AutoCAD eBook that provides an activity-based approach to learning AutoCAD. The online classes include virtual ‘field trips’, multimedia presentations and a variety of other resources to help you develop your skills. 

Ashworth College offers access to online AutoCAD Certified User Practice Exams and also allows you to take the Autodesk Certified User Certification exam—they even cover your fee. You can graduate in as few as four months. Tuition varies from $799 up to $999. The course includes: 

  • Access to AutoCAD software
  • Proctored AutoCAD Certified User Certification exam
  • Online exams and assessments
  • Access to academic advisers and a learning resource center 
  • Personalized career guidance

3. Non-credited CAD courses

Lynda

Lynda.com's logoLynda.com is an online learning platform that helps users learn how to use technology and software. Through individual, academic and corporate subscriptions, members have access to a video library of top-quality courses taught by recognized industry experts. 

By using Lynda, you can learn how to use a variety of CAD software including AutoCAD, SketchUp, Revit Architecture and SolidWorks. With over 13,000 video tutorials, you can look through a variety of lessons at a beginner, intermediate or advanced level. You have to subscribe to Lynda, which costs $25-$37/month. You can filter the lessons according to specific software and your level of expertise. 

Lynda doesn’t provide official certification or qualifications. Some employers will be content with the knowledge that you know how to use certain software, others will require official proof. This type of training is ideal for hobbyists, professionals looking for a refresher and CAD freelancers

Solid Professor

Solid Professor's logoSolid Professor is helping designers keep up with training in the cloud. It provides concise, relevant online video-based courses. You can look through courses authored by industry experts and an extensive library of software titles and topics. It also includes: 

  • Interactive lessons and hands-on exercises
  • Skills assessments and review tests
  • Create custom curriculum by class
  • Earn technical certificates to show career readiness

Solid Professor’s library covers a wide variety of software ranging from SolidWorks to CATIA to Onshape. It even covers the topic of 3D printing. The price for membership varies from $39/month for standard, $59/month for professional and $79 for premium. 


4. Software Certification

Most software providers out there offer their own training courses and programs. Some are available online and others require you to travel to a training center. These providers also offer exams where you can earn professional certification—like the AutoCAD Certified User exam offered at Ashworth College. 

autodesk logoAutodesk Certification

Autodesk offers industry-recognized credentials with their certification programs. You can get certified in most of Autodesk’s products including AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit and Maya. You have to take an exam at one of their training centers, and if you pass you get your certificate. There are three levels of certification: certified user, certified professional and certified specialist. 

You can also get Autodesk Certified digital badges which are web-enabled versions of certification. It validates your skills and can be posted on sites like LinkedIn. You can also use them in your emails and portfolios. Potential employers can then click on your badge to verify your Autodesk skills. 

You can undergo training directly with Autodesk before taking this exam. However, it can be expensive—many opt for training packages like CTO’s instead. 

Dassault Systèmes Certification

Dassault systemes logoDassault also offers individuals a certification program. By getting certified with Dassault, you can demonstrate your expertise and prove your capability in today’s competitive job market. Additionally, the program offers feedback on training programs by providing a before and after measurement of trainees’ acquired skills. 

You can get certified in CATIA and SolidWorks. By doing so, you can join a growing community of certified users. When you successfully pass an exam, an electronic certificate is generated and stored in your user account. You can also receive a label that you can use to promote your certification. Of course, you have to be fully prepared for these exams. You can either take courses with SolidWorks directly, or opt for another more cost-effective program. It all depends on how much money you’re willing to spend. 


Productivity tips

Image of a desk with a laptop, tablet and diary

If you’re looking to take CAD training, you need to make sure you’re doing as much as you can to be productive. Check out some of our top tips below to make the most of your time…

  • Prioritize. Most people undergoing CAD training do so alongside a job, education or family life. The important thing to do is manage your schedule carefully so that you’re not wasting your time. You should create a weekly schedule or routine—slot in an online class when you’re not working. 
  • Relax. While it is important to make the most of your time, it’s also important not to over-exert yourself. Multi-tasking—while efficient—can decrease productivity if you’re not careful. As such, you should make sure that you give yourself some much needed downtime between lessons. 
  • Make your own study space. If you’re completing your CAD training online, it means that you can do it in the comfort of your own home. This means that you don’t have to worry about showing up to a loud and uncomfortable classroom. Take the time to tidy up your desk ready for your studying. 
  • Have some fun. While it’s important that you learn how to use CAD (for your career or hobby), it’s also vital that you remember how fun CAD can be. Check out some of our top CNC projects to inspire you—once you know how to use the software, the world is your oyster. 

Extra Resources

Scan2CAD knows how confusing it can be as a beginner in the world of CAD. In fact, it can be pretty confusing even for people who have been in the CAD industry for years. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of top resources that you can use either alongside your CAD training, or as a precursor. 

YouTube

If you like to learn through a hands-on approach, then YouTube tutorials are the perfect resource. There are hundreds upon hundreds of videos out there for all types of CAD software—from AutoCAD to SolidWorks to Creo. The great thing about this is that there are channels dedicated to specific software. You can enjoy tutorials ranging from beginner lessons to intermediate 3D models. Check out a few examples below…

Official Blogs

Keep up with the latest industry news and software changes with official software blogs. Immersing yourself in the world of CAD can make your learning experience much easier. It’s also useful for keeping you inspired—seeing recent innovations from Dassault, for example, might have you itching to start your CAD training so you can start your own CAD projects. 

Scan2CAD

If you’ve ever wondered how you can convert your images and drawings to a vector CAD format (without having to manually trace them) then you should checkout our product, Scan2CAD. Scan2CAD is the market-leading raster-to-vector conversion software.

You can use it to do anything from vectorizing your logo for CNC or converting a GIF to DXF.  Scan2CAD is the ultimate vectorization software, and you can get it in a free 14-day trial

If you’re looking to stay updated on everything CAD, CAM and CNC related, you should keep an eye on Scan2CAD’s blog. Recent subjects cover everything from vectorizing using Illustrator to how the engineering industry uses CAD to an introduction on CNC control software

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3 Responses to CAD Training Courses – Everything You Need To Know

  1. Greg Blannon Sep 20, 2017 at 3:58 PM #

    The last AutoCAD program I worked on was AutoCAD 2007. What type of refresher class do you suggest I take to get up to speed with the newer AutoCAD programs.

    Thanks

  2. Jennifer Balsom Jan 9, 2018 at 1:41 PM #

    Great information provided Bethany!
    AutoCAD is a must nowadays for architects & Civil engineers, most of their time during their education they are taught mostly using AutoCAD.

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