The Top Bartering Skills to Have Post-Collapse

by Tara

When preparing for a doomsday disaster, we must also prep to survive (perhaps even thrive) during what comes next. Stockpiling items for bartering purposes is a common prepping practice, but thinking beyond what might be needed after an apocalyptic event,
could vastly enhance the chances of long-term survival.

Eventually, society will begin to reform, and a new normal will emerge. Exactly how long that will take and what it will look like will depend on both the type of SHTF incident, and where you live.

There are numerous articles floating around the internet that provide lengthy lists detailing what items preppers should stockpile for bartering during a SHTF scenario. Some of those articles even discuss quality bartering items, but none go into great detail or really thinking outside the box – like we are about to do right here.

Seed packets, canning supplies, socks, gloves, and similar items will make good bartering materials both during and after an apocalyptic event, but the most valuable bartering item takes up no space at all… knowledge. The tools that might be necessary to help you apply your knowledge will require some storage  space, but not nearly as much as a gross of toilet paper rolls.

What you know and what you can do will be the most profitable prep you can possess when striving to rebuild the life of your family after surviving a long-term disaster.

The more pioneer, off grid living, survival, homesteading, and bushcraft skills you have (at least a working knowledge of, and the manual tools necessary to accomplish the tasks) the greater the odds you will be able to not only provide for your family, but carve out a significant niche for then in the emerging new world.

Where you live will play a significant role in the type of skilled services that will be in demand after a long-term disaster, but some skills will have a nearly universal demand.

Top 6 Bartering Skills

1. Medical Training – Doctors, nurses, paramedics, emergency medical technician, nurse’s aides, veterinarians, vet assistants, military medics, and others who have engaged in professional first aid and emergency aid training will be able to barter their skills both during and after a SHTF scenario.


2. Construction – Carpentry– Skilled craftsmen (and women) will also be in high demand during the societal rebuilding phrase. Structures, furniture, and roadways will need to be both repaired and entirely rebuilt after a doomsday disaster.

3. Mechanic – Depending upon the type of disaster, modern equipment might still be able to be repaired. In the case of an EMP, solar flare, or cyber attack that takes down the power grid, antiqui and non-sensitive motors and similar equipment will become highly sought after commodities – as will people who can work on them.

4. Water Treatment – If you know how to purify water and have the supplies to do so, you also possess a powerful bartering skill. If you have supplies to collect and store water in small containers for barter after purifying, your family will have a solid post-SHTF “business” plan – especially if you were able to ride out the apocalypse in an urban or suburban area where natural water sources and a self-reliant populace are definitely not in great abundance.

5. Farmer or Rancher – People need food to survive. If you can grow or raise food – and held onto your breeders during the doomsday disaster, you now have a market of survivors who will be eager to not only barter for food, but for livestock to cultivate their own eggs, milk, meat, and transportation.

Even in a non-rural environment it is possible to grow crops and typically, to at least raise a few chickens. As I always recommend, all preppers should live in a rural environment. The impact in doing so will enhance the families’ chances of survival more than anything else you can do to prepare.

6. Transportation – During a disaster, people will only be on the road if doing so is absolutely essential. But, once a new normal emerges and society begins rebuilding itself, survivors will eventually be going to trading posts, children will be attending a revamped version of the old one-room schoolhouse, and engaging in both bartering and social contact with nearby communities.

Horses, horse-drawn wagons, ATVs, and trucks that can run on biodiesel fuel could eventually be the only modes of transportation left. People who own horses and working vehicles, as well as being able to grow and make their own biodiesel ingredients, could become a post-apocalyptic millionaire.

boys driving an atv on the homestead

Top 15 Self-Reliant Skills That Double As Prime Bartering Skills

1. Butchering – Meat will no longer come in carefully wrapped little packages from a grocery store after a doomsday disaster. Even in rural areas where most men and many women know how to hunt, far less than many know how to butcher their own meat – or own either the modern or non-electric tools to do so.

2. Grain Milling – Like meat, bread won’t be packaged and sold in stores anymore either.Learn how to not only grow, but harvest and grain your own wheat and and traditional wheat substitutes that can be used to bake bread.

3. Dairy – If you have cows and/or dairy goats, learn how to make butter, cheese, and other dairy products that will be otherwise unavailable. Pygmy or dwarf goats, as well as miniature cow breeds like Dexters, are small enough to be kept on low acreage parcels of land – the little goats could even be kept in a spacious suburban backyard.

4. Composting – Cultivating rich compost and bartering pots or bags of it for other goods and services

5. Blacksmith – The ability to fabricate tools, knives, and parts for machinery, as well working with horseshoes will once again become a lucrative career choice.

farrier in action

6. Farrier – A horse’s health depends largely upon its hooves and legs. A quality farrier will be in high demand in rural – and possibly even suburban, areas. Running a livery stable along with working as a farrier, or partnering with a blacksmith, could further enhance bartering opportunities.

7. Seamstress – Clothing will need not only to be mended or darned, but made from scratch as it once was. A survivor who can sew, knit, crochet, and spin cotton and wool, will be able to not only provide the materials necessary for others to make and repair their own clothing, but sell finished products as well.

8. Gunsmith – Helping a fellow survivor repair their firearm or reload ammunition during the SHTF event could come back to haunt you, but once society is on the rebound and rebuild, a gunsmith, especially one that can also make or repair bows, could become a bartering kingpin.

9. Teacher – Children will need to learn at least the survival and homesteading basics if the new society is going to be a success. It’s doubtful a teaching degree will be required to educate children after a SHTF event, but a background in an educational, counseling, or homeschooling field would be a plus.

10. Firefighter – Fire engines might not still be rolling after the SHTF event, but that does not mean fires cannot be fought.

Creating a fire department, even one that functions via an old-fashioned bell ringing system using buckets and low-tech pumpers hauled by wagons, can help prevent flames from destroying the communities run by survivors during the rebuilding phase.

Firefighting knowledge and protection services can be bartered for food, clothing, and other valuable tangible goods.

11. Engineer – A survivor with engineering skills will be able to help his or her fellow community members not only repair and rebuild structures, but devise off the grid energy systems.

12. Basket Weaver – Baskets will be used to tote crops, fish, small game, and general wares from place to place.

13. Potter – Plates, cookware, and storage pots will need to be replaced and there will not likely be factories still in existence making and shipping them to a local Walmart.

14. Cobbler – If you can learn to make and repair shoes, and tan animal hides to make moccasins and boots, these would make sound post-SHTF careers, or at least in-demand bartering skills.

15. HAM Radio Operator – Having the skills and necessary equipment to communicate with the outside world (which can mean locales even only 40 miles away) will allow you to help keep the emerging community safe from roving hordes, fires, and spreading diseases.

The sharing of news and relaying of messages could be used as a philanthropic bartering skill to help put food on your table.

16. Chimney Sweep – This is yet another job from the 1800s era that will be useful again in a post-apocalyptic world. Although it is not skilled labor (as many of the bartering skills on this list are), a person with the tools and ability to climb onto a roof and free a chimney of soot to prevent fires, will still have something of value to trade in exchange for a meal or a gently used coat.

17. Lathmaker – Sawmill Operator – A survivor who can cut wood into boards and operate an off the grid (especially portable) sawmill, can help rebuild homes, a trading post, and provide the means to make furniture in the new society.

18. Logger – Firewood will become far more valuable than precious gems in a burgeoning society that is now living off the grid. Cutting, splitting, and hauling firewood to both neighbors and nearby communities will offer a prime bartering service in a post-SHTF world.

19. Brickmaker – Raw building materials and skilled laborers who know how to lay them will be in high demand as well.

20. Spirits Maker – Many preppers stockpile alcohol for medicinal use, as a morale booster, and for bartering. Instead of just boxing up fifths of Jack Daniels and Rum, learning how to distill your own spirits, and perhaps planning to become a post-SHTF saloon keeper, will open up multiple avenues for bartering.


Bartering of services could be conducted on either a larger or small scale, depending upon your capabilities, means of transportation, and the level of safety present during the societal rebuilding phrase.

While this list of bartering skills highlights some of the most in demand services that can be bartered, it is by no means exhaustive. To learn more about what skilled trades that mesh with your own interests, readily available materials, and will be in demand in your region by researching 1800s era occupations and trades.

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4 thoughts on “The Top Bartering Skills to Have Post-Collapse”

  1. what makes anyone think bartering will be safe post collapse? it will most likely be fatal with all your stock stolen, any sort of trading will only be possible many years after the event, when or should I say IF some sort of society reappears but we could be talking 20, 50 or even 100 years if at all, depending on what the mortality rate has been.
    in the past when civilisations collapsed the survivors could simply access their daily needs by their own physical labour and just wait until society reappeared, no matter how long that was, that is just not possible in todays technology age, we are so dependent on our systems and public services and importing stuff including food from the other side of the world, which would stop immediately if society collapsed.

    • The first few months after a major / catastrophic disaster strikes may be dangerous. People without skills or supplies racing around getting themselves shot or maimed while trying to steal what they thing they may be entitled to.

      But, after the initial shock, after the initial die-off, a somewhat normal gathering of people will return. There will be farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters, etc. At first supplies will be spotty and hard to procure. But with time, a new more independent type of lifestyle will come to light. The main things to have, BEFORE an event, is the tools and supplies to build or rebuild, and grow your own of whatever you need.

      Tools that only require muscle and coordination to run. Screwdrivers, hammers, nails, saws, bit and brace (drills), shovels, hoes, pitchforks and anything else you can name that our forefathers used. All of that, while rare initially, if you didn’t have the foresight to gather what you could make use of, will soon become common fare. The return of the old General Store may be the start of rebuilding communities and nations.

      There will likely be people who’ve had interests in herbal medicine. Not that it would solve all issues, but it may have to do until more ‘modern’ medicines become readily available.

      People that think they will ‘live off the land’, hunting and gathering what they need should remember that tribal Indians covered about 10 miles every day, year after year, to provide the stuff they needed to live. And their populations were not in the 100’s of millions. That is where our modern agricultural and ranching practices have had the most impact – – – Where few are feeding the masses. When everyone else is trying to get the same deer or elk just to survive, the competition will leave nothing for anyone.

      Learn to fend for yourself. Protect your family. Gather what you need and learn to use the tools. Source water and how to use it to grow a medium size garden. Make what you need. Use what you make, then improve on it. Start small and work up. LEARN.

      Good luck,

  2. You might be surprised how fast Cobbler and Distiller rise up toward the top of the list. Say, I might have to come out of retirement after SHTF, I’m pretty good throughout the top 6 skills. Find me a distiller with a sucking chest wound and I bet I can trade an ACS for a whole barrel of white lightning!

  3. WOW!! I have half of the first set of skills, but not a single one in the 2nd set. I’m a fast learner, so maybe working with a distiller might prove worthwhile!!!!!!!! as to the bartering supplies,tools, etc.. you would have to have a huge trailer to keep up with the possible demand on these items…I guess some of those 2nd set of skills will come in handy MAKING tools for folks to use…herbal remedies might prove useful as well…pharmacy tech might be another coveted skill later on as well!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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