Despite sweeping changes to the World of Warcraft over the years, professions have been an enduring feature of the game. Opinion will vary over how relevant they are in the Azeroth of today, but they still provide texture and depth to a game that could easily narrow its focus to just combat and storytelling.
I’ve tried every profession the game offers over the years (with varying degrees of interest and success) but despite poor choices and innumerable profession-switching in the early days, I have learned a few things about how the whole system works.
If you are an inexperienced player, you might be wondering which profession is best or if they are worth bothering with at all. I would argue that they are worth the effort, but picking the right profession from the outset is key. Professions can be unlearned and replaced at any time, but for casual players, this may amount to an unnecessary time sink. Thus a little fore-thought will serve you well.
There are currently eleven primary professions in the game and players can learn up to a maximum of two. They are separated into two categories; gathering and crafting. As the names suggest, gathering professions involve the collection of raw materials and crafting is the creation of things from them. I’ve listed them below with their corresponding materials and the type of item they produce:
• Herbalism (Herbs)
• Skinning (Skins)
• Mining (Ore)
• Inscription (Herbs to create magical scrolls and trinkets)
• Tailoring (Cloth to create cloth armour and other cloth items)
• Blacksmithing (Ore to create plate armour and other metal items)
• Engineering (Ore to create assorted devices and implements)
• Leatherworking (Skins to create leather/mail armour and other leather items)
• Alchemy (Herbs to create potions and flasks)
• Enchanting (Magical reagents to create item enchantments)
• Jewelcrafting (Ore to create gems)
At a glance you will see natural pairings between professions in each category. If you wanted to make items with Leatherworking for example, taking Skinning as your second profession choice would be the obvious and most sensible option.
Enchanting and Tailoring are the exceptions to this, having no corresponding gathering profession that directly fuels their production. The cloth required by Tailoring is found on the corpses of defeated enemies and the magical reagents essential to Enchanting are only obtainable by using its Disenchant function to break down items of uncommon status or better.
It isn’t immediately obvious but a workable pairing can be made between Tailoring and Enchanting. The items produced by Tailoring can be broken down to provide the materials for the budding Enchanter. The same is true of Leatherworking and Blacksmithing which can supply items for disenchantment in a similar fashion.
Before deciding on a profession, it is wise to first ask yourself what you want to get out of it. Do you want to create armour and items for your own use? Do you want to use professions to increase your powers in combat? Or do you simply want to make lots of money by selling your wares in the auction house?
If you intend to produce items for your own benefit, all professions will enable this to varying degrees. Which of these is right for you will depend on what you want to produce, how much and how quickly.
Armour-crafting professions typically offer a wider variety of useable items than say Engineering or Jewelcrafting. Therefore, if a wide variety of gear is your goal, Tailoring, Leatherworking or Blacksmithing would be appropriate options. As materials for these professions are found in abundance whilst questing, they also tend to have a faster production speed. This does mean they aren’t as lucrative as other professions, but they are the most straightforward. They are ideally suited to those who want simple progression and personal benefits from their profession without the hassle of cumbersome recipes.
Non-armour professions (Alchemy, Engineering, Enchanting, Inscription and Jewelcrafting) can also produce valuable items to boost your prowess. In comparison to the armour-making professions, these items are generally more limited in number and more time-consuming to collect resources for. This makes the process of levelling them slower but they will generally command higher prices and have greater longevity as part of your gear.
Show me the Money
Armour crafting diminishes in value when a player reaches top level and begins to obtain gear from end-game content. There will still be a market for crafted armour but cash returns will usually be modest. Of all the professions, Alchemy and Enchanting tend to retain their market strength best at top level. Potions and flasks are always in demand due to their temporary effects and the regular changes in player gear as new raid tiers are introduced will keep the need for enchantments steady.
If making money tickles your fancy, then these professions are recommended. Alchemy probably edges ahead of Enchanting due to the constant need for flasks and potions, but a dedicated Enchanter can still make some decent returns from their efforts. Be mindful though, as both require a substantial investment of time as the materials required to make the most sought-after items are often rare or difficult to acquire.
What’s Right for You
Hopefully I’ve been able to provide you with some useful pointers for deciding on a profession for your character.
Remember, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to these activities. Nothing they create is so essential that you simply have to craft it to progress. Similarly, they create nothing so rare that it can’t be bought in the auction house, if you have enough money of course.
Yet professions are in my opinion, a worthwhile aspect of the game and a pleasant activity. They are definitely something to consider allocating some time to, and have a wide range of benefits from unique items to satiate the zealous collector, to the calming effects of a laid-back collecting and crafting session (an activity I find great for destressing)
So my eager artisan, take a moment to ponder your options, choose a path best suited to your desired outcomes, and go unleash your inner industrialist. You’ll be swaggering the streets bedecked in fancy gear and filthy rich before you know it!