Top 20 Bartering Skill-Sets

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Think over the past several years.  In particular, think back to a time when a problem popped up unexpectedly that was beyond your time and/or skill ability to fix and you ended up calling a repair man to come over to fix it.

Or, maybe it was a problem that you knew how to fix, but you needed a specialized part from a hardware store. 

As Preppers, if we had the space to store everything we needed, and the money to buy it, and possessed the precognition to look into the future to know what would go wrong, we could cover all the bases. But the fact is, we’ll have to do the very best that we can and expect some things to slip through the cracks along the way.

When you’ve got the cash to pay the repair man or buy the parts, it’s pretty straight forward.  But after a disaster when ATMs aren’t working or during a personal disaster when you simply don’t have any money, it’s another story.  This is when your bartering your skills can stand in the gap and get you through.  

The following is a list of the top 20 skill-sets that will be in high demand–both now and after a disaster.  Some of these skills take years of formal training.  Others can be learned and perfected relatively quickly.

Top 20 Bartering Skill-Sets

1. Medical Training: People get injured more often after disasters.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a short term disaster like a flood, hurricane, or tornado or a longer term disaster.  Those with medical training have been and will be in huge demand, including those with midwifery skills and those who are proficient at herbal healing–this will be especially true during a time when traditional medicines aren’t available.   

2. Dentistry:  This is an area where some Preppers are not fully prepared, but dental problems can be debilitating, and in some cases, life-threatening.  Those with dental training will not have any problem finding customers willing to barter what they have for the dental care they need. 

3.  Tactical/security: Not everyone will have the weaponry or tactical training required  to survive a societal meltdown.  Military, police, or private security tactical/security skills will be in huge demand from households, neighborhoods, relief agencies, companies, and government agencies at all levels.  Simply taking a local 3-5 day executive protection class can pay dividends to you and your family for the rest of your life…regardless of whether you ever use the skills professionally.

4. Hunting/Trapping/Fishing:  Once people have been forced to survive on basic bulk foods, canned goods, and MRE’s for a time, fresh meat and fish will be manna from Heaven.  If you’re a skilled trapper, hunter or fisherman, you’ll be able to barter wild game and fish for whatever you need. . .if you’re willing to give up a portion.  

5. Butchering/Curing/Smoking/Preserving of Wild Game:  If you’re an experienced butcher or are skilled at preserving wild game, bartering for portion of the meat or bartering your skills for other preparedness goods will help to fill in the gaps that a long-term crisis will bring.  An even more practical application of this is helping your neighbors quickly and effectively preserve as much of the meat and other food in their fridges and freezers after a disaster as possible.

6.  Reloading:  People will need ammo!  If you happen to be an experienced re-loader and have a reloading press, powder measurer/dippers, dies, shell holders, case trimmers, calipers/gauge measurer, priming tool, case lube, and a generous selection of powders and primers–most especially for 223 and 308, you’ll be kept busy.   Don’t go nuts on this unless it’s a passion…it still makes sense for most people to simply stock up on ammo rather than buy reloading equipment and learn a new skill.

7.  Gunsmith:  This field takes a two-year commitment to become formally trained in.  An apprenticeship is a possibility, where you can become trained in gunsmithing, but typically there are costs, rather than an income, involved.  Gunsmiths will be inundated with customers during a long-term crisis. 

(David’s note:  This is an area where you either need to passionately jump into the deep end and become the best gunsmith you’ve ever seen or decide that it’s just a hobby.  Gunsmiths are a dime a dozen, but good ones are hard to find–It’s fine to be a hobbyist take gunsmithing classes, and work on your own guns, but don’t add to the problem by calling yourself a professional gunsmith before you really have the experience to do so.)

8. Horticulture/Gardening:  In a breakdown, gardening and growing grains will be a necessity.  As long as you are in a location where there is enough land and irrigation water, your sweat-equity will pay off either by bartering the fruits, vegetables and grains you grow yourself, or by joining forces within your community.

(David’s note:  Food control has been a tool of tyrants throughout the ages.  A people who controls their food supply are free to make moral, ethical, and legal decisions without having to make choices about what they are or aren’t willing to do to feed themselves and their loved ones.  The more an area is able to feed itself, the less civil disorder it will experience after a disaster and the quicker it will be able to recover.)

9.  Home Canning/Dehydrating Foods:  Home canning and food dehydration are not difficult skills to perfect.  If you are able to put aside the necessary equipment, starting a home-run business, preserving food for others in your community, will offer you bartering leverage. 

10.  Carpentry:  If you have carpentry skills, there’s no end to the bartering potential this skill-set offers.  People will need household repairs to be done, roofs to be repaired, windows to be replaced, structures to be built, and as long as you have the right tools (including manual tools for grid-down), you’ll be able to barter for whatever you need. 

11.  Welding (and welding equipment):  Welding is a skill that will be in huge demand.  Think of the parts that will need to be repaired by a welder should retailers be forced to lock their doors.  People will need to make due with what they have, and necessities will need to be repaired on a large scale, meaning anyone with welding know-how and the right equipment will be kept busy.    

12.  Mechanical Repair: There will be mechanical failures of necessities like generators, chainsaws, ATV’s and vehicles.  Preppers may have the foresight to have stored the gas or diesel they need, but it’s not likely they all will possess the mechanical ability or tools to repair these items when they fail.  If you have mechanical ability, you’re bartering potential will be high. 

13.  Animal Husbandry: Farms will still exist during a meltdown and when possible, those with enough property will likely turn to raising cows, goats, chickens, pigs and other farm animals for meat and protein.  Horses will be used for transportation in grid-down.  If you have a working knowledge of the care of farm animals, your skills will equate to bartering potential. 

14.  Blacksmith (and forge making):   A blacksmith who is proficient at making tools, fixtures, agricultural implements, cooking utensils and weapons could barter for just about anything they needed.  This is especially true when goods and services are no longer available.   

15.  Sewing:  Sewing is a skill and as such has bartering power.  People will need to repair the clothing they have, and growing children will need clothing that fits.  Solar quilts and other insulating drapery will be in more demand.  If you have the foresight to purchase a treadle sewing machine that doesn’t require electricity to run, and a selection of fabric, threads and needles, you’ll be in business.   

16.  Knitting/Spinning: Knitting and spinning are skills that will be needed if fabric retailers ever close their doors.  People will need clothing, hats, gloves and bedding, and your skills will allow you to barter with others for whatever you find yourself needing.        

17.  Cooking:  Most of us who cook take our skills for granted, but just ask someone whose idea of cooking is making dinner reservations, or popping a frozen dinner in the microwave, and you get the picture.  Some people will need help with this every-day chore, and because of that, your bartering potential just went up.   

18.  Tree Felling/Wood Gathering:  Not everyone has the physical ability to fell trees, haul it and split it for firewood.  As long as you have a good tree-felling ax and other necessary tools of the trade and a strong back, you’ll have plenty of bartering power. 

19. Well-Driller & Witching (not real witchery…it’s just called that):  If there ever comes a time when municipal water supplies cease to function, having the tools and the know-how to drill wells will keep you extremely busy. Although wells are against code in many locations across the US, in a protracted emergency, these rules aren’t likely to be adhered to.        

20. Housekeeping/Care-giving:  Chores will be extremely demanding during an emergency that lasts more than a few weeks.  On top of that, children will require an adjustment period once TV, I-Pads and Play Stations cease to work.  If you’re a nurturer,   able to help with household chores and care-giving, your skill-set will be in demand by those able to share their preparedness.

(David’s note:  If you’ve read my book, “Urban Survival Bartering and Negotiating, you know that this is the tip of the iceberg.  There are other skills that I put at or above many of these in importance, including clergy, counseling, entertainment, fuel making, ice making, water purification, and more.  For a graduate level education in bartering and negotiating, I suggest that you get Urban Survival Bartering and Negotiating on Amazon for $17 by going >HERE< or you can get it for free when you sign up for the Journal of Tactics and Preparedness.

Here’s what one member had to say, “David, this is the best newsletter I’ve read having to do with survival; great articles on defense, alternative energy, economics and book reviews. This is one membership I think will be the most valuable. Right now I’m subscribed to numerous newsletters, subscription based memberships and am in the process of weeding out the weak. Tactics and Preparedness is gonna be a keeper! Keep up the great work and reporting!”   To learn more about the Journal and how to get my negotiating book for free, go >HERE<

Clearly, there are many skill-sets that will be in demand if life as we know it should be turned upside down.  What skill-sets do you believe will be the most sought after?  Please share by commenting below.  

God bless and stay safe,

David Morris and Survival Diva



  1. My son and I are chimney guys (install, build, fix, and service), and we’re busier than ever. I’m sure this trend will continue far into the future…

    • Survival Diva says:

      It makes sence that you are so busy. The increase in power costs has been mind-blowing. I recall reading an article that soon after the 2008 meltdown, in New York there was a HUGE influx of wood stove installations and it suddenly became difficult to find available firewood. Great bartering leverage!

  2. STEPHEN DAVIS says:

    Hi, I am wanting to know if the liquid soap receipe that you reference from the Duggar family can or is considered High Efficiency as that is what is recommended by the manufacture of my washing machine. As far as I understand it ‘high efficiency’ simply means it is low sudsing which helps the washer work more efficiently. Hope you can answer my question as I want to include this with my barter options and items. Thanks for all you put out

    • Survival Diva says:


      Research has shown this laundry soap recipe is highly efficient, although for deep stains, a spot remover is recommended, as it is for any laundry soap. At the point when bartering becomes necessary, it’s likely the grid will be down. If it’s an economic collapse that leads to barter, people may not be able to pay an electric bill, even if the grid remains. Washing machines may have to be replaced with hand scrubbing clothes and hanging them dry. What I like most about the laundry soap recipe is that it is compact enough to be able to store ahead for long-term laundry needs.

      • Hey Stephen, I understand your question and don’t know the answer, but I DO know the consequence of using regular detergent in a HE washing machine. It’s ugly.

        My limited understanding, which came from using non-HE detergent in a HE machine, was that if the detergent didn’t have Sodium Laurel Sulfate (?sp?) in it, I was good. Another test is to put some in a tub/sink and start running water. If the suds pile up, it has a foaming agent in it that won’t play well with a HE machine.

        To your specific question, the Duggars say that their detergent works fine with HE machines.

  3. Woe is me! I am Doomed! I have none of those Hands-on Skills; Zilch – – Zero! What’s an Old Body like me to do? My skills are analytical, behaviorist in nature; I can read the Tea Leaves pretty well. Strategic – – Project Manager? Yep! That would be me. Attention to Detail and very thorough in analyzing data. Will any of these Intellectual Skills even get me a Cup of Coffee? I can wash dishes.
    Woe is me; I am Doomed!

    The Survivalist – – only in my Mind!

    • Survival Diva says:


      I’m still chuckling. . . you’re a leader. That’s all you need to be. It may not pay well, but it can save many : )

    • Donal,

      I normally don’t pipe in on survival and preparedness stuff, but a positive attitude and the ability to influence other’s attitude in a positive way is INCREDIBLY valuable. If I were you, I’d start working on that immediately. If this was said in jest, I’d work on limiting sarcastic comments.

  4. As you stated, there are other ideas, skills, goods, etc., one can follow, learn, and store in order to live better and help others through a collapse.

    I am hopeful that in a crisis that one skill or area of knowledge I can barter is dog training. The market is flooded with poor trainers or in my opinion con artists, so in short it’s almost unappreciated or people avoid it because they’ve been burned. Ammunition and other forms of security will be probably be very hard to come by so hopefully this knowledge will benefit me.

    I believe other skills currently underrated will experience a sudden demand as people become aware of anything that can make their lives better. Collecting plastic, Thus even mundane things such as collecting plastic, reclaiming wood and metal, laundering clothes, blankets, and tarps, cutting hair, grooming pets or refurbishing rusty tools can get you far.

    The idea of teaching is great and I enjoy learning as well. The main thing to look for in a teacher are open-minded people versus those who think they know it all and are closed to new findings, methods, equipment. They don’t have to be famous or know everything as long as they know what they are doing and can teach you to do it well. And we often forget how much we learn and sometimes under estimate what we can offer.
    What a benefit it would be if those you teach, learn with or from become friends in a crisis instead of desperate souls demanding your food and supplies. You could save each others lives.

  5. Ham radio people!

  6. Hello there! This post couldn’t be written much better!

    Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!

    He always kept preaching about this. I am going to forward this article to him.

    Pretty sure he’s going to have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Great Grey says:

    Locksmithing. Knowing how to adjust and fix locks and bolts, also make from scratch. Goes with blacksmithing, carpentry and masonry.

  8. Without electronic media available to educate and entertain, I hope I can contribute as a neighborhood lending librarian. I am no longer able to contribute physically other than cooking or hand sewing, but I have a large library of encyclopedias, classics, how-to books, etc. to fill others’ down-time hours.

    • Survival Diva says:

      The idea of a lending out books is awesome. People will really appreciate if ever electronics goes south.

  9. Desert Fox says:

    I’m not sure why there is a dark shade on some replies…they are a little hard to read! 😉

  10. Another skill/service that can be looked at is a courier/delivery/taxi service. If its a grid down situation and fuel is either scarce or non existent, people may not or will not use what they have for transportation purposes and not everyone will have access to horses/carriages or any other means of transportation that can haul more than just the operator (bikes). People may need to get from one neighborhood/town to another to reunite with family or to meet up with contacts for other barter arrangements for their area. Whatever the case, having the ability to use your vehicle (especially wood gas powered trucks/cars, or even EV’s or veggie oil diesel vehicles) can be a barter service. Need to get produce to a nearby town/settlement as per a previous barter arrangement? Got animals to pick up from a farmer 10 miles out in the country? If you have a truck and trailers along with fuel/means of power, then you can almost name your price for your services. Such a service can literally be a way to reunite areas that may be cut off from the rest of the world, the more areas that are united whether for commercial purposes or even for “wartime” purposes (shipping ordnance/personnel to an area in need of security), the stronger the region as a whole will be against outside attack.

    Another service for those who have alternative energy systems would be recharging batteries and fuel production. If you have a large solar system you can offer your services to those who need to recharge batteries for smaller equipment or even vehicles, or those who may not have any solar panels/gennies but have access to a couple of batteries (marine or starting) and an inverter that they’ve been using to power a few small items. For those who have large tracts of farmland, maybe alcohol production via corn, etc to provide fuel for those with converted machinery/vehicles. If you grow soybeans, then biodiesel may be another possibility, so long as you have the equipment to squeeze the oil from the beans. If you really wanna get more Mad Max, maybe setting up methane digesters to turn animal/human crap into methane for pumping into bladders or pressure vessels (with the proper compressors) may be a possibility. Even during WW2 vehicles all the way up to buses had these ridiculously huge gas bags they toted around that contained methane and producer gas at a lower pressure for running the engines for short distances between refueling stations. All can be possibilities for those with the tech knowhow and ambition to set up such apparatus.

  11. Sue the Frugal Survivalist says:

    As silly as it sounds, project managers will be very useful. A good project manager can identify everything that can go wrong with a plan of action, so that steps can be taken to avert disaster when moving forward with the plan. Some people have a gift for seeing all the pitfalls ahead and thus can avoid them while remaining hopeful .

    In a group setting, a good project manager could easily save lives by warning of possible dangers others hadn’t thought about. The group could then revise their plan to take such dangers into account.

    • I don’t think that would be something you would want to have a specialist for, too much like a bureaucrat.

  12. Plumbing. Roman society differed from barbarian tribes in that they coudl channel water to irrigate , sanitize and supply their citizens with water. Anyone with the skills to get water to go from opne place to another , store it and then get it delivered on demand, will be invaluble in a post disaster society.

  13. Home brewing (said BobR as he put a few of his latest in the ‘fridge to cool) — if you can get the ingredients and supplies (bottle caps, right grains, etc). People will pay a premium in times of crisis for some liquid relief.

  14. HappyClinger says:

    Don’t forget comms and other information services – setting up and maintaining communications networks, even if they’re only within your very small community.

    I’m happy to see some things on there I can do – like gardening, sewing, knitting, cooking, and canning. I was wondering what I’d be good for if the SHTF. Very encouraging!

    • I’ve tried to find peopleon craigslist that know how to can & do preservatives and tried to get them to give classes to people. Especially right now, teaching canning and how to preserve would help alot of people. Someone could charge $25-35 a class and give the people a jar of whatever you do and all for the $25-35. I’d keep the class small, maybe 5-7 people in each class and you could have a couple of classes a day.
      If you know how to dehydrate meats and sew and whatever, you copuld be making money off of teaching people how.

      Good Luck

      • Survival Diva says:

        You might try to find a Church group in your area that get together to home can. A long-shot might be a community college–try extended education classes. They are cheap : )

  15. The field of quantum energy is growing by leaps and bounds. One aspect of this field is energy healing. Many have probably heard of EFT (tapping), hypnosis, Reiki, and many others. As well as having been a R.N. for over 25 yrs. I am also a certified Emotion Code Practitioner, which is relatively new to this field. So I was glad to see item #1 on your list.
    Thanks, and keep up the good work.

    • EFT and hypnosis can be great tools, but people need to be aware that there are SEVERAL definitions of EFT and hypnosis, and there are also outright bastardizations of EFT and hypnosis.

      In short, EFT and hypnosis take advantage of the way that God made the body to help the body heal neurologically and emotionally. Although many will argue this, after more than a decade of studying and using both, I am confidently of the opinion that they don’t allow the practitioner to manifest reality, attract stuff to themselves, or become more God-like.

      One good mental picture of what they do is to envision the fact that most people only use a fraction of the power of their brain–many estimates are in the 10-15% range.

      But the brain drives the body…everything from the level of peak muscle tension to many auto-immune disorders like allergies. Things like the release of brain chemicals that are the equivalent of a combination of heroin, pot, cocaine, and/or meth…only many times more potent with no side effects. The brain can enhance or tune out pain receptors, magnify or minimize emotional events, increase or eliminate the ability to focus (mentally and visually). In other words, it’s an incredibly high leverage tool.

      And yet, again, most people only use 10-15% of their brains.

      When people use more than 10% of their brain and don’t know what’s going on, they often attribute it to bizarre outside forces and influences, but it’s really just how God made us. EFT and hypnosis, in their most basic forms, allow us to use a higher percentage of our brains AND allow us to do the equivalent of emotional/neurological first aid on ourselves.

      This higher use of brain power doesn’t change reality…but it does allow the brain to more easily recognize and identify patterns that match what the person is looking for.

      As an example, hypnosis can slow the frequency of the brain down, cause it to switch from sequential to parallel processing, increase the frame rate that we see at from 2 frames per second to 20, increase our processing speed by 10,000x, increase maximum muscle tension, and more. It increases creativity, slows down time, increases strength, increases pain tolerance, and more. When monitored under fMRI, it becomes evident that more of the brain is being used. And, although it may feel like the practitioner has reached a transcended state and might even feel god-like, it’s really just a testament to how incredible our Creator is/was and a reminder of how much of our lives we spend with our mind in neutral rather than in top gear.

      • You are so right. Mental health will take a strong knock in a SHTF world and combined with the running out of anti-depressants, the situation will be dire for many people and those close to them.

    • Many of us older ones were raised on farms. The skills once so common will be
      refreshed and used when the need comes. The problem is not in the doing, but
      govt intervening and preventing. Available land is going to be key, along with
      able and capable people.

  16. Grandma Joyce says:

    Knowledge is always negotiable. Anyone versed in the ‘pioneer’ skills will be in high demand. Being able to live without the amenities (electric, running water, stores) and teach those skills to others will be beyond price. Today’s younger people are crippled without their cell phones and the internet. They will need to gravitate to those with the knowledge to survive.

  17. Joseph Lee Morehouse says:

    I like the article very much , The premise of the article is to be well rounded with different skills, of course you can’t be able to have all these skills but combinations of these skill would be helpful. I would add herbal medicines would be helpful. Plus if things does get really bad knowledge is power a well verse library with means of copying the pages or books would be very valuable for bartering.
    Thank you – keep these articles coming.

  18. One skill that is always in demand is leadership and organizational skills. It always amazes me how people in a bad situation will just get to the bare edge of safety and everybody goes to sleep! A leader understands how to set a proper watch, so every member of the group can sleep soundly, knowing someone has the “watch” to maintain safety and warn all of danger – flood, wind, or bandits. Then, after a few hours, they can sleep soundly, too, properly relieved. Survivalists say that 2 is 1 and one is none. With just 4 people, everyone can get a solid 8 hours rest, 12 highly productive hours, 4 hours of “watch” and minor chores, and be ready 7×24 for whatever happens. It may not work every time, but it sure makes the group a much harder target to steal from or attack.

  19. My wife is a cosmetologist and I think her skills might be a barter trade. Sure hope so since we’ve been stocking up on the tools and chemicals of her trade. Granted it will not help others survive but it might help women feel a little better and provide a creature comfort. Of course that isn’t our only barter skills but it is a specialized one.

    • Survival Diva says:

      Check into what Trends analyst, Gerald Celente has to say. His research shows that people turn to luxuries during tough times for normalcy.

    • Dan, do not underestimate the value of these skills should it become necessary to protect your identity! When everyone around you is filthy from lack of hygiene, you would not want to stand out by looking too clean! A little touch-up could be the answer.

  20. I’m hoping Bee-Keeping will be an advantageous contribution for barter too. Some witchcraft, palm-reading, and astrological forecasters might come in handy too. Historical scribes to document historical events and record biths/deaths might be advantageous. Caretakers and Burial specialists for taking care of the deceased and bereaved will be needed. Probably would be easiest to create a list of non-essential, such as professional politicians, lawyers, dream interpreters, etc….

    Love your site!

  21. I think being mechanically inclined will be valuable. To be able to look at a broken machine and figure out how it should work and get it back in operation is not something that everyone can do. I am not just referring to auto mechanics, but also small engine mechanics, industrial maintenance, diesel mechanics. For example if using wood gas to power a tractor for plowing a field, and the tractor breaks, food production is dramatically affected. Also, the small engine mechanic can fix the generator that powers the water pump. Etc, etc, mechanical ability and having hand tools will be important.

  22. Herbalism/Medicine Making is another skill worth considering,

  23. all good info to have


  1. […] (David’s note:  As I’ve stressed before, stocking up on stuff for barter is fine, but stocking up on barterable skills is even better.  Psychology, counseling, soap making, hunting, animal husbandry, firemaking, gardening, hunting, trapping, and dozens of other skills will all be worth more than “stuff” because knowledge and skill never run out.  Read more about 20 top skills for post-disaster bartering by going >HERE< […]

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