Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley

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Professions: What to Pick? [v2.1]
By Elegant Caveman
Not sure what profession's right for you? This might help you decide.

[16.03.13] v2.0

Skipping straight to 2.0? Oh my, gutsy. Well, it felt appropriate. Or maybe this is v1.0 and I just came out of Early Access. Point being, big changes, so it seemed fitting.

  • Overall: Split sections into sub-categories; hope that makes navigation easier. Added link to Reddit in Introduction about how to edit your save file to change professions, as well as a link to this guide's "official thread" in the Steam forum. Added "TL;DR" and "Thank You" sections.

  • Farming: Massive update to Agriculturist (seriously, check it out). Small tweaks otherwise.

  • Mining: Final Thoughts are pretty much a complete re-write. The rest has received a lot of medium/small changes. Less emphasis on iridium (considering v1.05) and geodes (considering you can buy them, which I didn't know).

  • Foraging: Significant changes to Botanist and Tracker. Added a screenshot to show what Tracker does.

  • Fishing: Slightly de-emphasized Pirate, but no huge changes.

  • Combat: Added a few details (base crit chance & clarification of Desperado), but no major changes.

[16.03.14] v2.1

  • Farming: Turns out that Agriculturist not sucking is a bug.


This guide aims to look at the various bonuses you can get from professions and discuss the pros and cons of each one.

When you first reach level 5 in a skill, you'll get to choose between two different professions. When you reach level 10 in a skill, you'll get to choose between two more different professions, and these are based on the profession you chose at level 5 for that skill (each skill has four total level 10 professions).

The profession descriptions in this guide are taken from the wiki[]; I didn't write them, I didn't test them. If some information is incorrect or has changed, please let me know in the comments.

For each section, I'll also give my thoughts about each of the professions. These will be my personal opinion, nothing more and nothing less. It's up to the reader to decide what's best for their playstyle.

In case you've already picked a/some profession(s) and you're really not happy with your choice, there's unfortunately no official/ingame way to change them, but this thread on Reddit has some instructions about how you can alter your save file to change them.

I tend to be ranty (as you can already see), so if you don't really care about the hows and whys of things and just want some quick & dirty recommendations about which professions to pick, you can find a TL;DR section at the bottom of this guide.

Finally, I've created a thread in the forum as a "home" for this guide; a place for discussion and the asking of questions. I'll also post there when I update the guide.

Farming - Overview

Level 5

Animal Products worth 10% more.
Crops worth 10% more.

Level 10

Befriend Coop animals quicker.

Incubation time cut in half.
Befriend barn animals quicker.

Sheep produce wool faster.

Artisan Goods (wine, cheese, oil, etc.) worth 50% more.
All crops grow 10% faster.

Farming - Comparison

Level 5 :

  • Rancher: Everything I've seen on the forum points to animals not being a very good source of income when compared to crops. As such, I would recommend Tiller. Even if you intend to have a lot of animals, Tiller is probably still a better choice (see the level 10 profession Artisan for more details).

  • Tiller: A 10% bonus to the value of crops isn't amazing, but it adds up. More important, though, are the professions you get at level 10 with this skill. Read on!

Level 10 Rancher :

  • Coopmaster: Why did you pick Rancher? Well, too late now; here you are. Between the two level 10 choices for Rancher, though, Coopmaster is probably the better one, for the increased incubation speed (especially for void chickens and dinosaurs, I'd imagine).

  • Shepherd: So you picked Rancher, and now you want to pick Shepherd. Just... why? Well, I guess this might be kind of worth it if you intend to raise & sell a lot of barn animals, as you'll be getting their hearts up faster. Still, this is probably the worst profession combination for Farming.

Level 10 Tiller :

  • Artisan: This profession is amazing. As far as single professions that make you the most money go, this is probably number one. Ancient Fruit wine with a +50% value bonus?!?

    Yes please! That aside, this profession is good for a lot of things. Even if you have a lot of animals and barely/don't grow crops, all those artisan goods you'll be making with your animal products will also benefit from this profession.

  • Agriculturist: Presently, Agriculturist is bugged (thanks to xylonez in the forum for pointing this out) and acts as though you were using Deluxe Speed-Gro even if you're not. This gives you an effective growth speed bonus ranging from ~25% to 50%, depending on the crop (the bonus affects growth stages, which is why the end result is variable; check out the Reddit link for more info).

    Until the bug gets fixed, this makes Agriculturist kind of decent and not a bad choice if you don't want to bother with artisan goods. You get the benefit of Deluxe Speed-Gro on all your crops automatically, and you can still use fertilizer.

    Once the bug gets fixed, though, Agriculturist will presumably go back to its stated 10% bonus, which is terrible.

    Artisan is the clear winner.

    Until then, you can learn more about Agriculturist's present behavior in TreyNutz's very useful thread.

Farming - Final Thoughts

I can't conceive of a situation in which you shouldn't pick Tiller -> Artisan. Buggy Agriculturist is kind of fun right now, but that can change at any time.

If you picked Rancher before reading this and haven't reached level 10 yet, I'd strongly recommend Coopmaster over Shepherd. Faster incubation seems like a much better idea than faster wool, especially considering void chickens and dinosaurs (assuming dinosaurs sell for a good price; the wiki doesn't have that info at the time of this writing).

Disclaimer: I don't bother with animals much in my game, so Coopmaster vs. Shepherd is conjecture based on what I've read in the forum and the wiki. Artisan is great even for animals, though, so I'd suggest that anyway, if you can still get it.

Mining - Overview

Level 5

+1 ore per vein.
Chance for Gems to appear in pairs.

Level 10

Metal bars worth 25% more.
Coal find doubled.

Geode find doubled.
Gems worth 20% more.

Mining - Comparison

Level 5 :

  • Miner: Do you want a lot of ore? Because this is how you get a lot of ore. It's maybe not a huge bonus (+1 is roughly a 25% increase, I think), but it adds up. Getting ore's not exactly hard, but if you intend to do a lot of crafting (this goes well with the "industrial" route of Artisan), this can be a decent choice. Or you could always buy your ore.

  • Geologist: Who doesn't want double diamonds? Double diamonds are awesome! I don't know what the chance is, exactly, but based on personal experience, I'm guessing around 33% (~25-50%). More importantly, this lets you take Excavator at level 10. Extra gems become much less exciting once you have access to a Crystalarium[], though. Note that geodes apparently count as gems, and getting double geodes is a pretty fun thing (thanks to [Jö] Barney Bread for reminding me of this in the comments).

Level 10 Miner :

  • Blacksmith: If you took Miner and play long enough, you'll probably reach a point where you have more ore/bars than you know what to do with. At that point, pretty much all you can do is sell them, so this might come in handy.

  • Prospector: This appears to be the most controversial profession. When I first wrote this guide, I called this one of the worst professions (second only to Combat's Defender). Judging by comments on this guide as well as on the forum, though, it seems that a lot of people love this profession and have a hard time getting coal. So... if you want more coal, go ahead and take this. Who am I to stop you?

    Note, though, that finding coal is relatively rare. So even if you double that, it's probably not going to make a huge difference. More on this in the Final Thoughts section.

Level 10 Geologist :

  • Excavator: This was originally my top pick due to the fact that you can get iridium from Geodes. Now that iridium's a lot easier to get, though (see the Final Thoughts section for more on this), this is much less important. That said, this is still an interesting pick since geodes can give you all sorts of goodies (this profession might be especially interesting for achievement hunters, as geodes will help you get various things faster than you otherwise might, especially artifacts).

    This profession suffers from the same failing as Prospector: geodes are relatively rare, so even if you double your chance, you probably won't see a huge increase in geode-finding.

  • Gemologist: This isn't terrible... get more money from your double diamonds. Honestly, I wish this was higher, like maybe 50%. 20% just doesn't seem like enough.

Mining - Final Thoughts
Since the last patch (1.05), iridium has become a lot easier to find. My original guide placed a strong emphasis on Excavator and Pirate since geodes and treasure chests helped you get more iridium. This is no longer anywhere near as important.

When I first wrote this guide, I also didn't know that you could buy omni geodes from Sandy in the desert for 1000g on Wednesdays, so I placed an undue emphasis on their importance.

AverageJack brought up an excellent point in the comment section: the longer you play, the more value you can get from choosing Miner -> Blacksmith.

As for Prospector, I can see it being most useful for those who do a lot of crafting.

There are many ways to get coal, though. The simplest is to buy it outright from Clint. This is easy, but can add up relatively fast. This becomes less and less of an issue the longer you play and get richer. You can also grow a bunch of trees and turn 20 wood into 1 coal with the Charcoal Kiln, though trees grow rather slowly (buying coal from Clint is a bit cheaper than buying wood from Robin and turning it into coal). You can also farm Dust Spirits[], which you can find on floors 40-79 of the mine (a bonus of this approach is you'll end up getting other things as well while doing so).

For both Prospector and Excavator, one considerable issue is that you get coal/geodes by breaking regular rock, which is something I imagine most people don't do too much of while they're in the mines, beyond what they need to do to clear a path. Double the chance of a little bit is just a slightly bigger little bit, after all. I'm not sure if the "double find" chance also applies to monster drops; I imagine not, but... it's always a possibility.

Honestly, after thinking about it a lot, reading the forum and all your comments, the Mining professions are probably the ones I'm least sure of.

Pretty much the only thing I feel comfortable saying with any kind of authority at this point is "Don't take Gemologist", but I'm probably going to find a comment waiting for me tomorrow with someone saying that they're making mad bank with the Crystalarium & Diamonds factory with the mighty power of Gemologist or something, so... whatever, I don't know, I give up.

If you keep having coal problems, though, go for Prospector. A lot of people swear by it.

Extra gems seem nice, but once you can make Crystalariums, it's pretty much a moot point (I didn't know about the Crystalarium when I first wrote this guide).

Miner -> Blacksmith or Geologist -> Excavator are my top picks at this point. Honestly, I'm not super-impressed by any of the mining professions, but those seem like the best bet to me.

Foraging - Overview

Level 5

Wood worth 50% more.
Chance for double harvest of foraged items.

Level 10

Normal trees occasionally drop hardwood.
Syrup is worth 25% more.

Foraged items are always gold quality.
Locations of foragable items are revealed.

Foraging - Comparison

Level 5 :

  • Forester: Who sells wood?! Seriously...

    That said, if you really like trees, the level 10 professions for this aren't bad.

  • Gatherer: Foraged items are good for cooking, selling, and gifts. As such, a chance for more is always nice. Like the gem bonus from Geologist, I don't know the exact chance, but I'm guessing it's the same, around 33% (~25-50%). As Anketam points out in the comments, it's also worth noting that this applies to all forage items, not just plants - you can get extra minerals in the mine, or goodies from the beach (and, yes, Gatherer also works with Truffles).

Level 10 Forester :

  • Lumberjack: You can get 12 hardwood per day from the secret forest, but picking this will probably have you swimming in hardwood if you plant & chop down a lot of trees. I have no experience with this profession, but it sounds kind of interesting. Maybe especially good if you intend to do a lot of crafting, as it's a pretty common "ingredient".

  • Tapper: Not really impressive unless you plan on making a lot of syrup. But, if you are... this does go well with Artisan. Your 200g syrup will get boosted to 250g, then jump to 375g with Artisan. Worth considering if you want to have a huge maple farm.

Level 10 Gatherer :

  • Botanist: Seems I originally sorely underestimated this one; given the wording, I assumed it only applied to forage items that you find out in the wild. Turns out it also affects the ones you grow yourself, so this is a very nice profession (thanks to Kalafiorek & mieltjoes in the comments for pointing me in the right direction).

  • Tracker: This sounded pretty good at first, but I was imagining some kind of item overlay on the big map, where you'd see where everything is (and it would show you what item is where). But, nope... all you get are little arrows on the edge of your screen that point you in the direction of forage items & worms (thanks to Dark in the comments and guilleen in the forum for clarifying this). I mean, that can be nice if you're artifact hunting, but... ehh...

Foraging - Final Thoughts

There seems to be two solid choices here: Forester -> Lumberjack and Gatherer -> Botanist.

Forester's pretty useless (a tree gets you about 20 wood for 2g each, so you're making an extra profit of 20g per tree, which is a joke), but Lumberjack is a nice source of Hardwood. Tapper is... highly specialized.

Gatherer's a solid profession on its own, but really shines when you combine it with Botanist. Tracker seems like a rather sub-par option, unless you really feel you need help with locating forageables.

Hardwood's easy to get, but not fast in large quantities, and it requires a side-trip whenever you want to go get it. If you feel you have a high need for hardwood, Lumberjack can be a good choice. Plant lots of trees!

If you're more concerned about income, I'd suggest going for Botanist. Forage items have a variety of uses, and having them be all-gold is a nice bonus to that, especially if you intend to grow them yourself in considerable quantities.

Note that if you turn your foraged items into artisan goods (like pickles, jam, juice and wine), the quality doesn't matter. That gold star will only come in handy if you sell it directly, or eat it.

As for Tracker, here's a screenshot of it in action, courtesy of guilleen:

Can you see the little arrows? One up, one left, one down. Yeah...

Fishing - Overview

Level 5

Fish worth 25% more.
Resources required to craft crab pots reduced.

Level 10

Fish worth 50% more.
Chance to find treasure doubled.

Crab pots never catch trash.
Crab pots no longer need to be baited.

Fishing - Comparison

Level 5 :

  • Fisher: If you fish, you should probably take this. Crab pots are pretty useless, unless you really like cooking with the things they can get you.

  • Trapper: If you don't fish, take this. Because... well... you don't fish.

Level 10 Fisher :

  • Angler: Holy, 50%?! That's awesome! I don't know if it's additive or multiplicative with Fisher's 25%, but either way, this is good money. Except...

  • Pirate: Treasures are nice. In the original version of this guide, I pushed Pirate since it slightly raised your chances of getting iridium, but that's less important now. What's still important, though, is that treasure chests are an excellent source of artifacts. As such, I still prefer Pirate over Angler, but not as much.

    Also, come on! Pirate! YARR!!!

Level 10 Trapper :

  • Mariner: Well, if you really hate trash, pick this, I guess... but trash is pretty cool. Recycle! Save the planet! Then again, by mid/late game, you don't really care so much about what trash can get you, so this isn't a terrible choice. If you picked Trapper for the food-potential, this might be your profession of choice.

  • Luremaster: This isn't overwhelming, but think of the time you'll save. Bait is cheap; this isn't about money. This is about effort (or lack thereof, as the case may be). If you picked Trapper, it's because you don't fish (I hope... or you -really- like escargot and fish stew), so you might want a whole bunch of these. Not having to bait them every time you harvest them will save you considerable time & annoyance/frustration. Maybe. Hopefully. Or just go with the no-trash thing, whatever.

Fishing - Final Thoughts

You know what's awesome? And what's really hard to get? Yeah, iridiu-- wait, no. This is the New And Improved™ version of the guide that doesn't really care so much about iridium anymore.

Still, Pirate gets you a bunch of other nice things, not just iridium, so my "ultimate pick" for Fishing hasn't changed, it's still Fisher -> Pirate.

Angler is still a nice choice, with a direct boost to fish prices. If you're mostly concerned about profit, Angler's the "safer/steadier" choice, compared to the gamble of Pirate (What's in the chest? Is it a handful of diamonds?! No! A single Bait...). If you don't want to hunt as much for artifacts, though, Pirate might make your life a lot easier.

I see little reason to take the Trapper path unless you hate fishing. Crab Pot items can be nice for cooking, but if you fish a lot, I still think you're better off with the Fisher path.

If you don't fish (or, for some strange reason, really really like crab pots), both options offer an interesting choice.

Trash is nice to recycle early on, but it becomes a bother later on, so getting rid of it might be good. On the other hand, not having to bait your pots can save you a considerable amount of time, especially if you have a lot of them (which you probably should if you pick Trapper).

Combat - Overview

Level 5

All attacks deal 10% more damage. +15 HP.
Critical strike chance increased by 50%.

Level 10

Damage is increased by 15%.
HP is increased by 25.

Cooldown on special moves is cut in half.
Critical hits are deadly.

Combat - Comparison

Level 5 :

  • Fighter: Not bad, but not great. Still, what I recommend.

  • Scout: At first glance, this looks awesome, but it's a multiplicative bonus, not additive. That is to say, you don't suddenly get 50% chance (and more) to crit, you just get a 50% bonus to whatever your chance to crit was before taking this profession. Considering that base crit chance seems to be 2% (thanks to Controller PlayA in the comments)... yeah... this isn't huge. I'm not sure how this profession stacks with items that give a bonus to crit chance, though.

Level 10 Fighter :

  • Brute: If you picked Fighter, this is the one to take. Another straight damage bonus. Nothing overwhelming, but it's solid and goes well with your Fighter bonus.

  • Defender: You've reached level 10 of Combat... do you care about 25 HP at this point? No... probably not. Take Brute; this is a worthless profession. If you're worried about your HP, just bring more food with you. This is probably the worst profession, period.

Level 10 Scout :

  • Acrobat: Do you use the right-click "special move" of your weapon a lot? If so, this is the profession for you. If not, move along.

  • Desperado: According to AverageRaven (in the comments section), this doesn't outright kill a mob but actually does numbers of damage. It does so much damage, though, that it might as well be an insta-kill, so... either way. Still, unless you boost your crit chance somehow, you won't be getting a lot of crits, so... meh.

Combat - Final Thoughts

Unimpressive overall. I suggest Fighter -> Brute because a flat damage boost that applies all the time isn't a bad thing. We're trying to make the best of a bad situation, here.

Defender is a joke. If it added defense instead of HP, then it might be worth looking at. Or if it added 250 HP instead of 25... but no, it just gives you 25 HP. That's barely more than a tortilla.

As for the Scout path...

Crits are nice. Crits are very nice. Problem is, they don't happen very often at all. If you use equipment that boosts your crit chance, though, Scout can be a nice choice... depending on how these items interact with Scout. At this point, I simply don't know.

For level 10, I'm not sure how useful Acrobat might be. I don't use special moves much, but if you're someone that does, this would be something to consider. I see this as being more of a "strategic" option.

If you happen to have found nice equipment that lets you crit often (we're assuming Scout stacks well with equipment), Desperado might be really good, but that's highly situational.

Basically, it all depends on your playstyle.

The Fighter path is the "safer" path; fixed bonus, no surprises. Nothing amazing, but it'll always be there and you can count on it. I'd recommend this to people who aren't too good with combat, or those that don't like leaving things to chance.

Scout can be good for those who are more tactical in how they play and have mastered the use of the special moves (Acrobat) or those that like to gamble and see some high burst damage (Desperado).


So, tired of reading, eh? Well, here's the short version. These are all, of course, simply based on my personal opinion, and I make no promises that they're necessarily the best pick for you.

Reading the detailed comparisons should better allow you to make your own choices, but the following suggestions should be just fine unless you happen to have an exceedingly strange & specific playstyle.


Take Tiller -> Artisan.


Probably Mining -> Blacksmith. Or maybe Mining -> Prospector, if you have serious coal issues, though I really don't understand this choice... it seems to be a popular one, though.

Geologist -> Excavator is also fun, but more luck-based.


If you intend to do a -lot- of crafting that requires lots of Hardwood, take Forester -> Lumberjack.

Otherwise, Gatherer -> Botanist is probably a better choice. Hardwood is pretty easy to find.


If you fish, take Fisher -> Pirate.

If you don't fish, take Trapper -> Luremaster.


Pick Fighter -> Brute. Just do it.

Thank You

I've already mentioned a few people throughout the guide; people who have posted comments that have helped me see the error of my ways or reminded me of details which should be included in the guide, as well as a few people in the forum who have been particularly helpful.

That does not mean, of course, that these are the only ones deserving of thanks.

I've debated how to approach this, exactly, and I still find all of this a bit awkward. I could have tried to take a more "professional" and cold tone and not mentioned anyone specific, issuing a blanket "thanks to everyone who's helped', or I could have tried to list everyone by name, linking to the various threads that have helped me in writing this guide... but then Stardew Valley 2 would probably be out before I was done with that.

So I've opted for a mix of the two, realizing that some might feel left out, and I'm sorry for that. Hopefully I've not offended anyone too much, but as I kept trying to figure out who to thank, the list kept growing, and this guide has already grown (both in required work and degree of popularity) more than I expected.

So thank you, to all of you. To those who have commented here with their suggestions & opinions or simply to give your thanks, to those of you in the forum who have helped me (knowingly and not) make sense of these sometimes headache-inducing professions, and to the silent majority who just pass by and read, hoping to improve their game experience a little bit.

Hope I've helped, and happy farming.

< >
cvspenc Jan 16 @ 11:30am 
fighter -> defender is the best with iridium snake milk so you don't waste food so much:steamhappy:
badatgames Nov 26, 2021 @ 11:23pm 
The main reason I like botanist is that it heavily decreases inventory clutter. I hate when I just grab a handful of forageables and it takes 3-5 slots in my inventory because of the different qualities and different types of forageable. With botanist, a handful of forageables will be 1-3 slots, maximum, which is awesome if you're like me and actually long-term plan with your inventory space instead of grabbing things from chests every time you need to do something.
glitzerpaillette Jun 15, 2021 @ 11:54am 
Yes, of course the forester skill changed. This guide is quite old.
Most importantly, you can now change professions by handing some gold over to the dog statue in the sewers
FC360 Apr 10, 2021 @ 1:41pm 
Did forester skill change since this guide was written as it says increases the amount of wood gained by 25%
Kisu Apr 9, 2021 @ 4:23pm 
Forester skill does not increase the wood price. The skill description says "Gain 25% more wood when chopping"
miniL Oct 24, 2020 @ 1:51pm 
True, I'm in no way saying ther eis no profit to be made, but it seems wasteful, since you will artisan a LOT of things that would otherwise have had a benefit from gatherer + botanist. So personally I went with forester and lumberjack, which if you plant loads of trees yourself will have quite a benefit (not even looking at sales, but it simply cut down my walks to the forest HUGELY).

No clue if it would actually give you a bigger profit as well though.
Den Flygende Bergenser Oct 24, 2020 @ 4:00am 
@miniliQuid there is the point to be made though that not all things are able to be Processed into artisan goods, like rainbow shells, coral and other stuff
Lambda Sep 9, 2020 @ 10:11am 
About Acrobat:
Did you know that the special of the hammer can do the most amount of damage?
It does an AOE, capable of damaging enemies behind you, but if you mash the regular attack button during the animation of your special attack, you can do 2-4 special attacks in one go. If you can do these 2* as often it's like a 100% increase in dps.
However, that damage has to be concentrated in your special and it has to be a hammer. I recommend practicing this kind of attack, even if you don't want to use hammers.
If you love hammers, love to do this multi-AoE attack and want to do it multiple times in an encounter, go with Acrobat
miniL Jun 27, 2020 @ 3:23pm 
Considering your first advise is always going for tiller + artisan, I feel that Gatherer + Botanist is kind of a waste? You are totally going to artisan your stuff, otherwise that profession goes to waste. So picking both of these paths seems wasteful.

With tiller + artisan in the pocket, wouldn't it be smarter to then just go for forester + lumberjack?