Stardew Valley Profession Guide
What professions should you choose?

At levels 5 and 10 in each profession, you are given the option between two professions. Many professions make some aspect of each skill more profitable for you. While professions don't generally have a large impact on the game, they allow you to specialize in order to make parts of the game easier.

Farming

How to level farming: Harvest crops; note that planting and watering crops does not increase level. This means that vine crops are the best option for leveling, followed by the fastest growing crops in a particular season.

Quick Tip: Harvest as much parsnips as you can in your first spring, then switch to corn for the summer and fall. This isn't the most profitable option, but leveling is more important than cash (you'll get that later).

LevelOptionOption
Level 5 Rancher - Animal products sell for 10% more. Tiller - Crops sell for 10% more.
Level 10 Coopmaster - Befriend coop animals faster; incubation time cut in half Shepard - Befriend barn animals faster; sheep produce wool faster Artisan - Artisan goods worth 50% more. Argiculturist - All crops grow 10% faster.

Farming professions have two different routes: animals or crops.

The rancher option has you specializing in animal farming. The 10% boost to animal products isn't anything special, but it opens up either coopmaster or shepard at level 10. If you like raising small animals, coopmaster is for you (and it's probably the better option); shepard makes you better with larger animals but forces you to use sheep (no cows for you).

Unfortunately, animals farming in Stardew Valley isn't so great right now; it's pretty tedious until you get set up properly with silos and deluxe buildings and isn't very rewarding without crafting. Although, duck farming with coopmaster (especially with deluxe coops) appears to be a viable alternative to crop farming.

The tiller option specializes in crop farming. Again, the 10% boost in value isn't anything great, but it gets you the level 10 skills. Artisan increases the value of certain goods by 50% and this should be an indicator that tells you that it should be your money maker (any profession that increases the value by that much should tell you that's the type of good you should plan to sell). Agriculturist makes your crops (read: crops, not tress or vines) grow 10% faster and 10% isn't necessarily enough to warrant this choice.

Mining

How to level mining: Smash rocks using the pickaxe. Clear your farmland, spend time in the mines (30s for copper, 40s for iron and coal, 110s for gold), clear the quarry once you unlock it.

LevelOptionOption
Level 5 Miner - +1 ore per vein. Geologist - Chance for gems to appear in pairs.
Level 10 Blacksmith - Metal bars worth 50% more. Prospector - Coal find doubled. Excavator - Geode find doubled. Gemologist - Gems worth 30% more.

The mining professions are very well done; however, I wish Miner and Prospector were switched on the tree. The miner side is all about consistency, while the geologist side provides a lot of value.

Miner gives an additional ore per vein and that's a huge bonus when you stumbled upon iridium ore. Blacksmith is another 50% increase to the value of metal bars, so this is another moneymaker; if you'd rather spend your time in the mines than growing crops in your field, this is a really good choice. Prospector is great since coal is pretty rare (granted you can always buy it from the blacksmith for 150g, but that's 750g for bars and 1,200g worth of coal per preserving bin totalling 1,950g), it comes online a little late though.

On the other side of the mining profession tree is geologist, it gives you a chance at getting extra gems from nodes. Since gem nodes are fairly uncommon, this is a decent choice (but its value is greatly deminished by the crystaliarium that can just duplicate gems for you). Excavator is really nice since geode find is doubled and that allows you complete the museum quicker or give you ore and coal that you're missing from not taking miner or prospector. As for gemologist, it's hard to get enough value from this profession since gems are somewhat rare and if you're using crystalarium(s), you don't need the 30% bonus.

Foraging

How to level foraging: Pick up everything you see; chop down trees, note that stumps do not increase levels. 

Quick Tip: Once you get seeds, plant as many trees on your farm as you can. Chop them down once they grow up. Replant seeds with one empty space between seeds. Make snacks for extra energy.

LevelOptionOption
Level 5 Forester - Wood worth 50% more. Gatherer - Chance for double harvest of foraged items.
Level 10 Lumberjack - Normal trees occasionally drop hardwood. Tapper - Syrup is worth 25% more. Botanist - Forged items are always gold quality. Tracker - Locations of foragable items are revealed.

Like mining, the foraging professions are in a pretty good spot. One side deals with planting and cutting down trees and the other side is all about finding more goods.

Forester unlocks lumberjack or tapper and is highly underrated. A 50% increase to wood (and hardwood!) value is an indicator that you should be selling wood; this is something a lot of people don't do and they are missing out on a lot of benefits. It's also the only substantial increased value profession that comes online early. Without cutting the stump, trees provide about 12 wood, 5 sap, and a seed; 3 seeds turns into 45 energy, 5 sap is worth 10g or 2ish fertilizer, and 12 wood is worth 36g (with the perk). That's a better return than most crops that you have to buy seeds and water every day.

Lumberjack effectively removes the need to go to the secret area in the forest everyday for hardwood (and gives you a chance to make 22-44 more gold per tree); the value of not having to leave your farm for hardwood cannot be understated. The tapper profession is okay, syrup doesn't get a bonus from Artisan for whatever reason, but 25% isn't that much even though you aren't doing any work to get the syrup.

As for gatherer, getting additional goods is always nice; this means you can craft more often for less work or make your days a little longer by getting extra energy. Botanist effectively increases the value of foraged goods by 50% (not exactly, but kind of), but more importantly it's a space saver; you're guarenteed to have items only take up one spot in your bag instead of up to three spots (and that adds up, especially in the mines).

Fishing

How to level fishing: Catch fish (duh?) and use crab pots.

LevelOptionOption
Level 5 Fisher - Fish worth 25% more. Trapper - Resources required to craft crab pots reduced.
Level 10 Angler - Fish worth 50% more. Pirate - Chance to find treasure doubled. Mariner - Crab pots never catch trash. Luremaster - Crab pots no longer need to be baited.

The fishing professions are somewhat interesting (although using the word interesting to describe something is rarely a good thing). The two choices basically comes down to if you fish or not.

Fisher increases the value of fish by 25% and that's a pretty nice perk for how early you can get it.

The level 10 options are, again, in a weird place. The 50% boost to fish value comes online a little late because by this time, the increased value of fish shouldn't matter. Pirate is nice because you get more chances to catch treasure and treasure is generally extremely rewarding; I like to think of treasure as the geodes of fishing.

As for trapper and crab pots... Well, trapper is okay, but you get three crab pots from the community center and you can buy crab pots from Willy for 1500 gold. Crab pots are relatively expensive to craft without the trapper profession, but reducing the cost to copper (from iron) doesn't make it any better than just buying the traps.

Mariner seems somewhat detrimental to crab pots because catching trash (and recycling the trash) is actually the best outcome you can get from those traps. Luremaster is nice but there's another problem with that. First of all, bait only costs 5 gold and everything you trap rewards more than 5 gold. The bigger problem is that without bait, the default option when interacting with crab pots is to pick them up and that's really annoying.

Combat

How to level combat: Kill monsters. The levels 30-50 in the mines are great place to level combat; you'll get bug meat for fishing bait, coal from monsters for smelting, and ore from mining.

LevelOptionOption
Level 5 Fighter - All attacks do 10% more damage; +15 HP Scout - Critical strike chance increased by 50%.
Level 10 Brute - Damage increased by 15% Defender - HP is increased by 25 Acrobat - Cooldown of special moves cut in half. Desperado - Critical hits are deadly.

The combat professions aren't anything special. Fighter is more consistent, scout has a higher ceiling.

As for fighter, +15 is worth 3 levels and 10% damage is good no mater what. Brute is good for 15% more damage; nothing special, just consistent damage. Defender, increasing your HP pool by 25, is probably the least useful profession in the game; I'd just skip that one.

The scout side of things, an increased chance to crit is pretty good (and opens up more weapon options). Desperado substantially increases the damage of your critical attacks but does not guarentee one shots. Acrobat allows you to use your special move (right-click) more often; each weapon offers a different special attack.

Recommended Professions

SkillLevel 5Level 10
Farming Tiller Artisan
Mining Miner Prospector
Foraging Gatherer Botanist
Fishing Trapper Luremaster
Combat Fighter Brute

This setup is well rounded and focuses on making your farm as useful as possible. One of the advantages to this build is that late game, it lets you eliminate certain areas of the game; you spend most of your time on your farm or using the bus stop and have no real need to go to the beach or forest.

The farming professions allow you to specialize in using preserving bins or kegs. Your greenhouse eventually becomes a brewery that grows either hops for pale ale or berries for wine. Animals aren't anything special in the game, so it's best to stick to crops.

The mining professions make you better at gathering resources to upgrade your farm. The sprinklers in your greenhouse require iridium, so miner is going to go a long ways. Almost all of your coal is going to be spent making preserving bins or kegs to take advantage of the artisan perk.

As for foraging, gatherer affects so many parts of the game that you should not pass it up. Early in the game, getting extra coral is a big money maker and getting extra foraged goods keeps your energy up; late game, gatherer gives you a chance at getting additional truffle from pigs. Botanist is extremely good for inventory management and makes winter a little less painful; you can fill your crop fields with winter seeds and be guarenteed gold quality results.

While Fisher -> Pirate offers more upside, we're specializing in crab pots for a few reasons: (1) you aren't forced to play the fishing minigame that takes up quite a bit of time; (2) trash provides cloth, coal, and refined quartz; (3) along with sap from trees, the fish you catch in your crab pots create fertilizer. There are plenty of places to put crab pots that shouldn't be out of your way between the two ponds on your farm, the lake near the mine, and the river next to the blacksmith.

The combat professions aren't anything special, consistency over intensity. Critical attacks don't always happen and this set up requires the least amount of work and keeps those ring slots open for other options.

Highest Ceiling Professions

SkillLevel 5Level 10
Farming Tiller Agriculturist
Mining Geologist Excavator
Foraging Gatherer Botanist
Fishing Angler Pirate
Combat Scout Desperado

All of these professions basically change the way the game works and ignore most perks that increase the value of goods (because eventually gold doesn't matter).

Agriculturist is chosen over artisan here because Stardew Valley often rewards quantity over quality. This allows you to harvest more crops per season (probably one extra rotation than normal) and that means more cooking options.

Gatherer is chosen purely for crafting reasons, since foraged items are somewhat rare, getting a more of those goods means you can craft more. Take the totems for example, finding coral everyday means you can craft beach totems every day that allow you to get back to the beach easier to craft more totems.

Botanist is chosen primarily as a space saver since you don't need to worry about normal or silver quality goods.

Geologist and excavator rewards you for smashing random rocks and finding mineral nodes (which are much more rare than ore). More geodes means more chance at random loot;the same goes for angler > pirate, more treasure is good.

As for combat, increasing crit chance by 50% offers a higher upside than flat damage and desperado basically makes attack speed mean more than actual damage as everything you crit is almost always one shot.

Closing Thoughts

Don't restart the game just because you chose the wrong professions. In the end, most of your professions will only matter in your first year and half or so. Combat and farming professions (with the exception of artisan) have the only real long term, game breaking mechanics. For example, if you chose mariner and need trash, just use your fishing rod in the pond at your farm to consistently catch trash.

Even the recommended professions aren't necessarily the best. You could make the case for Angler > Pirate, Gatherer > Botanist, and Scout > Desperado. And honestly, I warmed up to animal farming as I researched and wrote this guide; coopmaster seems pretty solid.

All of this being said about professions, you should look into having an extra character or two in order to experience everything Stardew Valley has to offer.

Corey Docken

Corey Docken

Corey has been playing video games all of his life. He learned how to use grid references playing The Legend of Zelda on NES and spent way too much running in front of a TV as a child. He loves the Final Fantasy, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Dark Souls, and Civilization series and is stil trying to get over the loss of Fable.

Published on Sunday, March 20th, 2016 at 3:57 PM.
Last updated on Sunday, March 20th, 2016 at 5:27 PM.