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Best Stardew Valley Skills Guide

This Stardew Valley Skills Guide will teach you which of the skill choices are the best and which ones to avoid.

If you’re playing Stardew Valley, you’ll quickly notice that as you go through the game, your character levels up skills in several categories. The categories for Stardew Valley skills are Farming, Mining, Fishing, Foraging, and Combat.

stardew valley skills

Basics – Stardew Valley Skills

When you’ve reached level 5 in any of the Stardew Valley skills, you get a choice between two perks. Then, at level 10, you get another choice. The choice you get at level 10 is dependent on the choice you made at level 5.

Each level 5 choice gives two completely different options for your level 10 choice, so it’s important to make the right choice for your Stardew Valley skills at level 5 as well as level 10.

If you’ve made the wrong choice, and you want to go back and change your selection, you can go into the sewer and talk to the statue there. For a 10,000 gold charge, it’ll reset your skill selection for one of the Stardew Valley skills, and you can reselect your perk for that skill once you go to sleep that night.

However, getting into the sewer requires the Rusty Key, which you get for filling out the majority of the museum, and it also costs 10k gold, so it’s really better to just make the right decisions the first time around. So what are the right decisions for your Stardew Valley skills? Let’s get into it.

Farming – Stardew Valley Skills

stardew valley skills

In the farming line of Stardew Valley skills, you can choose to focus on livestock or growing. The livestock path turns you into a Rancher and the growing path turns you into a Tiller.

Rancher – Stardew Valley Skills

The Rancher path increases the value of animal products at level 5, and at level 10 allows you to specialize in Coops or Barns, either befriending Coop animals more quickly and decreasing incubation time, or befriending Barn animals more quickly and increasing Sheep wool production.

  • Level 5: Animal products worth 20% more
  • Level 10 (1): Befriend Coop animals quicker / Incubation time cut in half
  • Level 10 (2): Befriend Barn animals quicker / Sheep produce wool faster

Here’s the thing about the Rancher path. Every single Animal product can be easily made into an artisan good that’s worth more than the animal product even with the Rancher bonus. So that skill is 100% useless. Eggs can be turned into Mayonnaise, Milk can be turned into Cheese, Wool can be turned into Cloth and Truffles are not classified as an animal product to begin with.

As for the level 10 skills, by the time you get to level 10, your animals are almost surely at 5 hearts already. The only value to be had out of these skills would be the reduced Incubation time for producing lizards. Otherwise, by the time you get these skills, all the incubation you’re ever going to need to do has almost certainly already been done.

Tiller – Stardew Valley Skills

The Tiller path for the Farming skill line increases the value of crops slightly at level 5 and then at level 10 gives you a choice between a dramatic increase in the value of artisan goods or a modest increase in crop growth speed.

  • Level 5: Crops worth 10% more
  • Level 10 (1): Artisan goods worth 40% more
  • Level 10 (2): All crops grow 10% faster

Crops being worth 10% more is a very modest, almost unnoticeable increase, but it’s much better than the alternative (20% more for animal products), because at least it’s 10% more money instead of 0% more money.

Throughout the entire game you’re going to be growing and selling crops consistently so while the upside to this skill is very slight, you do get a lot of mileage out of it.

The level 10 skill is where the Tiller path really starts to shine, because both of these skills are great. At the real end-game levels, the most profitable thing you can do is sell Aged Ancient Fruit Wine, which requires growing Ancient Fruit in mass quantities and aging it in casks to turn it into wine.

This strategy benefits from both of these skills, but crop growth can be increased by fertilizer already, so there’s not much unique utility to be had there. The 40% artisan goods price bonus, meanwhile, is huge.

The further you get into the game, the more everything you grow can be easily transformed into artisan goods. Jams, cheese, wine, cloth — very rarely do you just want to sell raw products once you’ve set up your various little factories for your farm plots and your livestock.

So, the sheer amount of produce that ends up benefiting from this skill is enormous, and the bonus is quite high at 40%. It’s not uncommon in year 2 or 3 to be selling 10-20k shipments regularly, which become 14-28k shipments. Not bad.

Farming Verdict – Stardew Valley Skills

For your Farming skill choice, there’s no question. Go Tiller at level 5 for the 10% crop profit bonus, and then go Artisan at level 10 for the 40% Artisan goods bonus. It’s very difficult to make an argument to go any other way with Farming skill picks.

Mining – Stardew Valley Skills

stardew valley skills

With the Mining line of Stardew Valley skills, you’re deciding between a focus on ore vs. a focus on gems and geodes. The ore path turns you into a Miner and the gems path turns you into a Geologist.

Miner – Stardew Valley Skills

The Miner path gives you additional ore from veins at level 5 and then a choice between extra profit from selling bars (Copper, Iron, Gold, Iridium) or an increased chance of finding coal.

  • Level 5: +1 Ore per vein
  • Level 10 (1): Metal bars worth 50% more
  • Level 10 (2): Chance to find coal doubled

When you’re first playing through the game, that additional ore per vein can seem very enticing, because ore seems like a relatively rare thing that you need a lot of.

But, by the end of the game, you’ll be swimming in every kind of ore except Iridium, and Iridium veins are fairly rare and are not even the best way of farming Iridium ore.

As for the level 10 skills, they are not useful at all. Metal bars being worth more is not very good because when push comes to shove, you’re not going to be selling your bars of any quality. You’ll be stockpiling them in case you need them as crafting materials.

Even at the end of the game, there will be times when you need to dig out your copper bars to make, say, an extra Tapper or a Cheese Press.

The coal skill is also pretty worthless. It’s unlikely you’ll ever come anywhere near running out of coal if you save what you find and you never sell it or throw it away.

Geologist – Stardew Valley Skills

At level 5, the Geologist path gives a chance for gems and geodes to come in pairs when found through breaking rocks and nodes. Then, at level 10, you can choose between doubling your chance for finding geodes or increasing the value of sold gems.

  • Level 5: Chance for gems/geodes to appear in pairs
  • Level 10 (1): Chance to find geodes doubled
  • Level 10 (2): Gems worth 30% more

I mentioned above how ore is incredibly common except for Iridium ore. Well, the best way to get Iridium ore before year 3 when you get the Statue of Prosperity (and the game is essentially over), is to farm Omni-Geodes in the Skull Cavern and kill Iridium slimes and bats.

Since the level 5 and level 10 Geologist skills increase your chance of finding Omni-Geodes dramatically, so does your income of Iridium ore. While killing enemies for the ore is the best source, increasing Omni-Geode drop rates will give you a lot more Iridium ore than that +1 ore from deposits skill ever will.

The double chance of finding Geodes is also probably more profitable in the long run than the increased gem price, since about half the items you get from Geodes are gems.

The gems skill is not totally useless since, unlike ore, there’s very little to keep most of your gems (except Diamonds in certain circumstances), so you may as well sell them. Still, the utility that the double geode drop-rate skill provides more than eclipses the modest boost in income you get from more valuable gems.

Mining Verdict – Stardew Valley Skills

Don’t be enticed by that +1 ore at the start of the game. It doesn’t pay off. In the end, you’re going to want to be swimming in Omni-Geodes for a variety of reasons. They can contain Iridium ore. They give you gems that you can sell. You can trade them to the Desert Trader for a variety of things. Geologist and then Excavator is the way to go here.

Foraging – Stardew Valley Skills

stardew valley skills

The Foraging line of Stardew Valley skills focuses on increasing the value of foraged goods (i.e. the items you find on the ground) or increasing the supply of wood you get from trees. If you go the wood route, you become a Forester. If you go the foraging route, you become a Gatherer.

Forester – Stardew Valley Skills

At level 5, the Forester skill grants an additional 25% wood from chopping down trees. Then, at level 10, you can choose between a chance of getting Hardwood from any tree or increased value for Syrup.

  • Level 5: Gain 25% more wood when chopping
  • Level 10 (1): All trees have a chance to drop Hardwood
  • Level 10 (2): Syrupts worth 25% more

Let’s get this one out of the way quickly: Syrup sells for very little, takes a long time to produce and is generally not a good source of income with or without the skill bonus provided here. So definitely don’t take that skill.

As for the other skills, wood is not particularly hard to farm, but you do have to spend a lot of it, since it’s used in all of your building upgrades and most of your crafting projects, so 25% extra wood can be pretty convenient.

The real winner here, though, is that Hardwood bonus. Unless you’re on the forest map, you can only get a maximum of 12 Hardwood per day from the secret forest unless you have this skill.

A few crafting projects require Hardwood in decently large quantities, so it becomes a pretty big chore to farm Hardwood 12 at a time for 2 weeks of game time to afford a Stable or several Cheese Presses.

Still, aside from the stable (100 Hardwood) and the 2nd house upgrade (150 Hardwood), you only need like 100-200 max for anything else you’d want to use Hardwood for. Not enough recipes require Hardwood to make investing your skill points in it totally necessary.

If you’re on the Forest map, don’t bother with the Hardwood skill at all. That map is covered in Hardwood. You’ll be drowning in it.

Excavator – Stardew Valley Skills

At level 5, the Excavator branch gives you a chance for double items when picking produce up off the ground. At level 10 you get a choice between every foraged item automatically being Iridium quality or the location of all forageable items revealed.

  • Level 5: Chance for double harvest of foraged items
  • Level 10 (1): Foraged items are always highest quality
  • Level 10 (2): Location of forageable items revealed

This is kind of an interesting branch, because it can help make foraging for items pretty lucrative actually. The main thing to remember here is that pig truffles are considered foraged items, and the level 10 bonus for quality means all your truffles will be purple star quality and you have a chance to pick up double truffles.

Still, if you’re turning all your truffles into truffle oil, the quality of the truffle doesn’t matter. Then again, if you have 4 or more pigs, unless you have a full factory of Oil Makers, it’s a lot more convenient to just collect the massive amount of truffles you’ll be producing and sell them outright. You’d need ~8 Oil Makers to keep up with your daily truffle production.

The combination of the Gathering and Botanist (quality bonus) skills also mean as you run back and forth between the town and your farm, you end up with 3-5 foraged items on any given day, which is a free 500-1000 gold or so depending on the season.

Foraging Verdict – Stardew Valley Skills

This one is really up to you, a lot moreso than than the other skill choices. Personally, I feel like going Gatherer and then Botanist gives the greatest benefit, especially if you have pigs on your farm. If you’re not using pigs, it’s a little harder to justify.

The extra wood and hardwood skills are certainly useful, but the main problem is that after a certain point, you just don’t need any more wood. I think you can’t go wrong either way. Just make sure if you’re going the wood path, take the Hardwood skill, and if you’re going the foraging path, take the bonus quality skill.

Fishing – Stardew Valley Skills

stardew valley skills

The Fishing path has you making a choice between increasing the value of your fish or increasing the effectiveness of your crab pots. If you go the fishing route, you become a Fisher, and if you go the crab route, you become a Trapper.

Fisher – Stardew Valley Skills

As a Fisher, at level 5 you increase the sale price of all your fish. Then, at level 10, you get a choice between further increasing the sale price of fish or doubling your chance of finding treasure while fishing.

  • Level 5: Fish worth 25% more
  • Level 10 (1): Fish worth 50% more
  • Level 10 (2): Chance to find treasure doubled

Increasing the value of fish goes a long way if you’ve set up any fish ponds, especially if those fish ponds are producing high value fish like Fire Eels, Lumpfish and Sturgeon.

Even if you haven’t set up fish ponds yet, 50% increased sale value for fish is a significant increase that shouldn’t be ignored. No matter what you do in the game, you’re going to be selling some fish sooner or later, so you might as well maximize your profits.

Don’t take the treasure talent. By the time you get to level 10 in fishing, there will be absolutely nothing of value that you can possibly find via fishing treasure.

Trapper – Stardew Valley Skills

As a Trapper, your crab pots has a lower materials requirement for crafting. Then, at level 10, you can choose between crab pots no longer producing junk or crab pots no longer requiring bait.

  • Level 5: Resources required to craft crab pots reduced
  • Level 10 (1): Crab pots no longer produce junk
  • Level 10 (2): Crab pots no longer require bait

Look, here’s the thing about crab pots. They’re terrible. The best thing crab pots can produce is a normal quality lobster, which sells for 120 gold. Compare that to a single lava eel you can sell with the Angler (+50% value) bonus: 2100 gold.

You’d need to have 20+ crab pots with the no junk bonus producing exclusively lobsters somehow in order to match the sale price of selling your 10th lava eel from a lava eel fish pond every couple of days.

Not worth it. Did I mention that in order to crab pots to even have a chance of producing lobster, they have to be placed at the beach, which is extremely far away from your farm if you don’t use a totem?

Extremely late in the game, you can buy a permanent warp totem for the Beach for a million gold, but do you really want to spend a million gold to pick up like 400g worth of crabs every day?

Not worth it. Fish ponds are way better.

Fishing Verdict – Stardew Valley Skills

There is no contest here. The increased sale price for fish is huge and crab pots are terrible. I would absolutely recommend going Fisher and then Angler for maximum profitability for fish. Try to get a few fish ponds early. You should be able to get a Sturgeon by the end of the first summer and a Lava Eel pretty soon after (just have to reach floor 100 of the mines). If you can get a Blobfish on the first winter, you’re golden.

Combat – Stardew Valley Skills

stardew valley skills

In the Combat skill path, you have a choice between focusing on critical hits or damage and health. If you focus on crits, you’ll become a Scout. If you focus on damage and health, you’ll become a Fighter.

Fighter – Stardew Valley Skillls

At level 5 the Fighter gains an additional 10% damage bonus, then at level 10 it can choose between an additional 15% damage bonus or 25 extra health.

  • Level 5: All attacks deal 10% extra damage / +15 HP
  • Level 10 (1): All attacks deal 15% extra damage
  • Level 10 (2): +25 HP

It’s pretty hard to go wrong here. As far as anyone can tell, the attack bonuses stack, so it’s a total of +25% damage. That’s a pretty significant bonus. It’s also very straightforward, and you get a little bit of bonus health to top it off.

The +25 HP perk is very bad. Do not pick that. 25 HP is basically a single hit from an endgame monster, and at that point it’s much better to just buy a stack of ~100 salads from the Saloon to chow down on if you ever run into HP problems. +25 HP won’t help you at all, ever. Among all the Stardew Valley skills, the HP perk is rock bottom.

Scout – Stardew Valley Skills

If you go Scout, you get additional crit chance at level 5 and then at level 10 you get a choice between additional crit damage or decreased cooldown on special moves which… requires a little bit of explanation.

  • Level 5: Critical strike chance increased by 50%
  • Level 10 (1): Cooldown on special moves cut in half
  • Level 10 (2): Critical strikes are deadly

The critical strike chance bonus is misleading. It increases your existing critical strike chance by 50%. Which means it adds about 1-2% critical strike chance. Not very good at all compared to other Stardew Valley skills.

You may be wondering what “special moves” the description for the Acrobat perk is talking about. Well, Swords can block, which you’ll never use besides accidentally activating it while trying to interact with objects while you have a sword equipped.

Daggers and Club have legit special moves, but they’re both worse than just slashing with a sword and daggers and clubs are worse than swords in general. So lowering the cooldown of special moves is not worthwhile.

Desperado, the crit bonus talent, does make crits impressive. They turn into pretty much one hit kills. Still, the crit rate is extremely low and there’s no way to boost it up besides the underwhelming Scout talent and Aquamarine Rings. If you’re using the best weapon, the highest crit chance you can get is 3.6% — 2% without these talents.

If you use a Wicked Kris, you can get the crit chance up to 10.89%, but you’ll be using a dagger with short attack range and weak base damage. It’s not recommended.

Combat Verdict – Stardew Valley Skills

No question about it, you want to go Fighter then Brute for maximum damage output. No matter what you do, crits are not reliable or even common, and the Scout talent doesn’t really help. The crit damage talent is pretty nice, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to making up the gap between the Fighter and Scout paths. Go Fighter.

That about covers it when it comes to the best choices for Stardew Valley Skills. Be sure to check out the Games Section for more game guides, and click here for more content related to Stardew Valley.


  • Ryan Night

    Ryan Night is an ex-game industry producer with over a decade of experience writing guides for RPGs. Previously an early contributor at, Ryan has been serving the RPG community with video game guides since 2001. As the owner of Bright Rock Media, Ryan has written over 600 guides for RPGs of all kinds, from Final Fantasy Tactics to Tales of Arise.

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