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A beginner's guide to WoW's gathering professions

As soon as your character hits level 5, it's time to pick up a profession -- or two or three! Each character you have can take two primary professions -- herbalism, mining, skinning, alchemy, blacksmithing, enchanting, engineering, leatherworking, tailoring, jewelcrafting, or inscription -- as well as however many secondary professions -- cooking, fishing, first aid, and archaeology -- they want. Primary professions are typically categorized as "gathering" professions -- herbalism, mining, and skinning -- that allow you to collect materials and "crafting" professions -- alchemy, blacksmithing, enchanting, engineering, leather working, tailoring, jewel crafting, and inscription -- that allow you to create items.

When choosing a primary profession, it's good to pick two that work well together: say, a crafting skill that uses the items you collect with a gathering skill. This means herbalism is typically paired with alchemy or inscription; mining is typically paired with blacksmithing, jewelcrafting, or engineering; skinning is usually paired with leatherworking; and enchanting and tailoring can be paired with anything (though often players will pair them together and use goods created by tailoring to level their enchanting). But if you aren't terribly interested in crafting or just want to give your character a leg up with money-making, you could pick up a pair of gathering professions and take whatever you gather while you're leveling to sell to crafters on the auction house. As to secondary professions, since you're not limited on the number you can take, you can really grab as many as interest you.

Not sure where to start with all these choices? We'll walk you through it.

Whatever profession you take, you'll start with a skill level of 1, which you increase up to 600 as you level up and use the skill. Apprentice skill (which you can train at level 5) covers skill levels 1-75, journeyman (level 10) covers skill levels up to 150, expert (level 20) covers skill levels up to 225, artisan (level 35) covers skill levels up to 300, master (level 50) covers skill levels up to 375, grand master (level 65) covers skill levels up to 450, illustrious (level 75) covers skill levels up to 525, and zen master (level 80) covers skill levels up to 600. To train in each skill level, you need to be both the right character level and have a certain amount of skill. Further, to harvest higher level materials or craft higher level items, you'll need a higher skill level -- in short, this means you'll probably want to work on advancing your professions while you level up.

But just which professions should you choose? There are good reasons to pick all of them, which can make picking the right profession for your new character a challenge. Today we're going to walk you through WoW's professions, explaining what they do and why you might want to take them. There's a lot of ground to cover, so today we'll start by talking the game's three gathering professions: herbalism, mining, and skinning.

A beginner's guide to WoW's gathering professions

  • What does it do? Allows you to pick herbs, which are primarily used for alchemy and inscription. In addition to being able to harvest herbs from the ground, you'll encounter the occasional plant-based monster that you can gather herbs from.
  • Do I need any gear? Though nothing is required, carrying the Herbalist's Spade in your inventory gives +10 to your herbalism skill. There are also bags specifically to carry herbs if you find your inventory swamped with herbs.
  • Do I get any extras? Herbalists have access to the spell Lifeblood, an instant-cast self-heal that temporarily boosts your haste rating. It's very useful at low levels and still provides a small boost at higher levels.
  • Why take herbalism? If you want to do Alchemy or Inscription, Herbalism is highly recommended so you can pick your own herbs instead of having to buy them on the auction house. But if you want to make money, Herbalism by itself is a good option, too -- just take your herbs to the auction house to sell.

  • What does it do? Allows you to mine for ore and gems, which are used for blacksmithing, engineering, and jewelcrafting. In addition to being able to mine ore nodes, you'll encounter the occasional earth-based monster that you can mine for ore after death.
  • Do I need any gear? Though you don't need any special tools to mine, carrying a Mining Pick in your bag will give you +10 to mining skill. If you carry lots of ore or gems, you may also want to invest in a mining bag.
  • Do I get any extras? Miners have access to the passive ability Toughness, which gives a bonus to stamina. It's a decent buff for any player, though tanks will certainly be appreciative of the extra health. If you want to pick up blacksmithing, engineering, or jewelcrafting, mining is highly recommended as a companion profession. However, just like herbalism, mining is good on its own as a money-maker, too.
  • Why take mining? Mining is a must if you plan to pick up blacksmithing, engineering, or jewelcrafting -- but by the same token, it's a great money-maker by itself. Because the materials gathered by mining are used in more professions than any other, they're typically in high demand on the auction house: with some savvy trading skills, your character could make a bundle.

A beginner's guide to WoW's gathering professions
  • What does it do? Allows you to skin animals for leather, which is primarily used for latherworking. Unlike herbalism and mining, in which goods you're collecting are found in nodes scattered around the world, skinning requires you to kill an animal in order to skin it. You can, however, skin animals others have killed so long as they've looted the corpse first.
  • Do I need any gear? Like the rest, you don't need anything, but you can pick up a Skinning Knife to give you a +10 skill boost. And, again, if you find yourself hauling around lots of leather, you may also want to invest
  • Do I get any extras? Skinners also have access to the passive ability Master of Anatomy, gives a bonus to your critical strike rating.
  • Why take skinning? If you pick up leatherworking, you'll probably want to pick up skinning to supply your own leather. But, just like the other gathering professions we've covered, skinning is also great on its own as a money-maker: on most servers, leather of all levels sells well.
Hopefully this helps you to get started with professions: check back soon for crafting professions and secondary professions!
Just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you can't bring your A-game to World of Warcraft! Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from the seven things every newbie ought to know to how to get started as a healer or as a tank.

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