I went over this a while ago, but I keep on seeing one of the most common questions all over the various forums I watch: what professions should a hunter take? The answer is deceptively complex.
First, identify what it is that you want. If you’re going for pure DPS, you’ll want to pick one way, but if you’re looking for money, you’ll want to pick one of the other paths.
Picking professions for DPS is relatively straightforward. All gathering tradeskills have very small bonuses, and all crafting skills (other than engineering) have very large ones, which will be going up in patch 3.2. None of the “freebie” skills (cooking, first aid, fishing) have a direct, non replaceable influence on your DPS. Please note that for DPS purposes, I’m not going to count the ability to farm and craft your own consumables as a benefit. You could spend the same time doing dailies and just buy the same end product for less time usually.
You can min/max a little bit when it comes to non-gathering professions, however in patch 3.2, they will all add up to just about the same bonus. The best you can do is choose something with good flexibility and synergy.
- Blacksmithing gives you two extra gem slots.
- Alchemy magnifies the effects of your flask, as well as allows you cheaper consumables through doubling the duration of flasks.
- Jewelcrafting gets 3 better gems.
- Enchanting allows your to enchant your rings.
- Leatherworking allows you an improved bracer enchant, as well as cheaper leg enchants.
- Inscription gives you a better shoulder enchant, and allows you to skip the dreaded and expensive sons of hodir grind.
- Tailoring gets a cloak enchant and more cloth drops
- Engineering gets Rilgon cussin’.
As raiding hunters, you will get more DPS from agility than you do AP normally. You might get even more from armor penetration. Thus, the professions that are flexible enough for us to choose what we gain will produce better results for us. Those are alchemy and jewelcrafting. Alchemy increases the effect of the ArP or AP consumables, and jewelcrafting allows ArP or agility gems.
Also, the synergy between blacksmithing and jewelcrafting allows some exponential DPS increase when they’re paired. To the right, you’ll see a screenshot I took from www.femaledwarf.com showing the various paper-doll DPS numbers I got by switching between professions. I included a data point with BSing and JCing at the end so you could see- if you simply added up the bonuses from smithing and jewelcrafting, you’d get about 47 less DPS than I predicted here. If I were stacking armor penetration and had best in slot armor pen gear with the appropriate build, this would be even more significant. Please note- this is based on my gurrent gear and will not reflect the results you see on your character, however the relative weight of the professions are correct.
TL;DR: take jewelcrafting and blacksmithing.
Performance and Money
I’m independantly wealthy, so this is not a factor for me, however there are a lot of people still doing dailies to pay for raiding consumables. If you want to balance your performance with money, you have a few options. You can take a gathering profession and deal with the reduced PvE performance boost, or you can take two crafting professions that have a monetary advantage.
- Herbalism gives you a self heal. Next to useless, but allows you to herb in Freya’s room as well as make more money when farming.
- Mining gives you stamina. Also, next to useless, however you can pick up a fair bit of cash farming with this, and you can mine some very profitable nodes in Ulduar.
- Skinning gives you a little crit. Least useless, but still half as good as a real professional bonus, and skinning makes the least money of all the gathering professions.
You can elect to pick a crafting profession that saves you money, or one that can make you money.
- Enchanting can be very lucrative, even if you don’t raid with your enchanter. You can sell twink enchants, regular enchant scrolls, and you can disenchant things for a profit. If you raid with your enchanter, you can also get rare enchanting recipes and sell those theoretically for more than the easily trainable recipes.
- Jewelcrafting can be profitable, but it usually needs enchanting. Most people use JCing to prospect saronite, cut and sell the valuable gems, and craft the green gems into items that can be disenchanted. You can possibly save yourself money here by not having to pay market rate for your gems, but that depends on your economy. [edit: there are also JC only dailies that can make you some cash- thanks Zeherah!]
- Alchemy is rarely profitable unless you can get herbs lower than AH prices to sell flasks, however it has a built in reduction of expenses- your flasks last twice as long. Also, you can use very cheap crazy alchemist potions instead of mana potions when you need to pop a consumable- they give back health and mana, and also provide a random buff.
- Blacksmithing is not profitable unless you can get cheap eternals to make belt buckles and sell them at a profit, and there is no cost reduction built in.
- Inscription’s cost reduction is mostly in being able to avoid the expensive or long sons of hodir grind, however if you are willing to grind glyphs and herbs, you can make a profit.
- Leatherworking saves you on your leg enchants, but is rarely inherently profitable itself. At least not obviously or easily.
- Tailoring generates more cloth drops per mob, however not many people got rich with a maxed out tailor. You can make bags and sell cooldowns.