Today I want to do an overview of professions and how to choose the best ones for your play style and making gold. Almost everyone knows that professions are divided into gathering and crafting professions. Unfortunately, everyone who knows this is wrong (including Blizzard). In reality there are three different types of professions in World of Warcraft.
Now before I go into the three types of professions I want to clear one thing up real quick. I am not going to be telling you one profession that you should choose to make the most money. Why? Because the top money making profession will change with time. As new patches/hotfixes/expansions come out the top money making profession will change. If you are always trying to have the top money making profession you will be constantly changing your professions and will have to go through the leveling up / recipe buying process repeatedly. I don't think this is how you want to spend your time playing World of Warcraft. So instead I am going to be going over how the different types of professions work and which professions you should get if you want to constantly make money (regardless of patches/expansions/time past) even if the profession choice won't always make the most money possible.
Farming - Skinning, Mining, and Herbalism
Farming professions are good professions to choose if you want to make gold with no risk and enjoy farming. If you choose farming professions you will ALWAYS be able to make money using them. Simply go out and spend some time gathering materials and then sell them on the AH. Some people find this an enjoyable way to spend their time and if you are one of these people you should definitely not give up your farming professions. If, however, you don't like to farm but you have farming professions because they make money or you think they provide you free mats to craft with, you should read my previous post on opportunity costs here and then choose other professions as there are other professions that offer greater money making opportunities at very little risk.
Crafting - Blacksmithing, Engineering, Leatherworking, Tailoring, and Alchemy.
Crafting professions are the worst professions to choose long term if you are interested in gold making and you are limited in how many toons you have. The reason for this is that the crafting professions are basically a crap shoot. Depending on your server and the patch you may, or may not, be able to make money with crafting professions. While there may be times that people with a certain crafting profession are able to make the most money on your server I still would not choose to take the profession as this will change with time. After a few weeks or months, or when the next patch comes out, or some other event occurs the profession may no longer be profitable and you will be looking to change professions again.
Converting - Inscription, Jewelcrafting, and Enchanting.
These professions are usually lumped in with crafting professions (even Blizzard makes this mistake). These professions are different from crafting professions though because they convert the materials gathered by people with farming professions into new materials! They can then use these new materials to make other items. Converting professions are the best professions to have (unless you just like to farm) in terms of gold making. This is because these professions have two separate ways to make money! You can either convert farmed mats into the basic mats for your profession and sell those OR you can craft items to sell on the AH. If you are an enchanter you can make and sell enchanting mats OR enchants, if you are an inscriptionist you can make and sell inks OR glyphs and cards, if you are a jewelcrafter you can make and sell raw gems OR cut gems. This leads to long term profits because usually if the market in one side of your profession dies down the market for the other side of your profession will grow!
As an example lets look at what happened to enchanting when Cataclysm came out. Most servers saw the price for enchants to be very, very low as many people were trying to level the skill up and thus making lots of scrolls without worrying about if they were profitable or not. This lead to a huge supply spike in the enchants available at a time when most people didn't have high level gear that they wanted enchanted. Thus if you were in the enchantment market at this time you were almost certainly losing money. If you were in the enchanting supplies market, however, you were making a killing. All those people wanting to level up their enchanting as fast as possible needed dusts, essences, and shards to do it. This created a demand spike for these items and anyone who could supply them (AKA smart enchanters) was in to make serious $$$.
This means that people with converting professions are almost always able to make serious profit with their profession. If the market for your goods gets too crowded or dies down chances are that you can just switch your production focus and continue to make lots of gold without changing your profession at all. Thus if you want to choose professions that you won't have to change, will make money for you day after day, and don't require hours farming for materials then you should definitely choose to train in two of the converting professions.
Come back tomorrow (or subscribe!) and I will breakdown each type of profession and list which professions are the best within each of the three categories.
EDIT: Click here to be taken to Part II
EDIT: Click here to be taken to Part II
Have fun making gold!