Survivalist Skills–Secondary Skills from Your Day Job, by Rourke

In our modern world, jobs are incredibly and increasingly specialized. Many of us have jobs that may be of little use if TSHTF and society collapses. As many of us may have to look for another way to make a buck, or perhaps more accurately to trade or barter with, consider bettering yourself by attaining a high level of proficiency in at least one secondary survival skill (the more the better).
I have listed below a few useful to survival skills, or secondary occupations that you can learn quite a bit about if you just treat it like a hobby, or a self improvement course. Along with having some informational materials, some experience, the expectation is you would also have at least the basic tools (power and hand tools and library of reference information) of the trade(s) you choose.
This also makes the point for a group working together as a team. Even the biggest Jack or Jill of all trades (which many survivalists are), would be hard pressed to really know the entire list below and have enough basic tools or supplies to do each and every on this things well. Just like with most teams, people have to play different positions well for the team to be a winner.

Alternate Energy – biogas, bio diesel, alcohol, steam power, solar cells, windmills, etc.
Ammunition Reloading Equipment & Supplies (gun repair & maintenance)
Childcare – baby sitting, preschool
Computers – may be impossible to get parts, chips in particular, but can keep them running by cannibalizing…
Construction – rough construction of homes, poles barns, etc.
Butchering – cutting and curing of meats, sausage making
Candle making – including soy based, bees wax
Dental – hygiene, dentistry, oral surgery
Electric supply & repair – home electric system design/repair, off grid
Electronics – repair of as many electronic gadgets as possible
Engine repair & maintenance. Auto, truck, tractor, small motor
Fire fighting – rescue operations in all conditions
Fishing – netting, multiple lines, trolling, ice fishing
Ham radio – this is its own category since it requires a specific license. (Now issued at three different levels)
Herbs – alternate medicine, nutrition
Home schooling – teaching supplies, text books, etc.
Hunting – trapping, snares, training hunting dogs
Farming – crops – small scale farming many crops, large scale gardening or greenhousing
Farming – livestock – chickens, rabbits, goats, bees, fish farming, turkey, hogs
Food canning & dehydration – pressure canning, dehydration of fruits and meats
HVAC – heating, venting, air conditioning and ventilation systems
Leatherwork – tanning to punching and sewing
Lumberjack – from falling trees through saw milling
Masonry – concrete flatwork, brick making, brick laying, poured walls
Medical – from EMT to MD, from bandages to surgery
Metal Working and welding
Mid wife – child birth is its own part of medicine
Plumbing – well, septic, indoor plumbing, outdoor plumbing, water filters, pumps
Security – systems, knowledge of tactics military and/or police
Seed Bank – storage of seeds for growing, hybrids, and open pollinated (heirloom)
Sewing – clothing making and repair, spinning, knitting, making cloth
Soap making – and all the things you will have to make from animals and plants
Survival Skills – wilderness skills in particular, living off the rough land
Veterinary Sciences – animal care, breeding
Wood working – everything beyond roughing; trim, cabinets, furniture

This of course is not a complete list. Looking down the curriculum of a trade school or technical college would be another good thing to do. Consider taking up at least one as a hobby or for self improvement. -Rourke  (

JWR Adds:
I’d recommend adding the following to Rourke’s list:

Blacksmithing – Invaluable for repairs and fabrication of metal tools and parts
Machining – Important for fabricating metal parts
Welding and Torch Cutting– Absolutely invaluable for repairs and fabrication of metal parts

Rourke’s article indirectly raises the issue of retreat group dynamics and the vagaries of human nature. I’ve seen some mistakes made when assembling retreat groups, most notably:

1.) Groups that end up with preponderance of doctors, lawyers, or firemen.  This typically happens because a group founder recruits members from his close circle of friends–who all happen to be in the same profession or trade. This results in a group that lacks a good balance of skills.

2.) Groups that lack cohesive leadership. These generally turn into either philosophical debating societies or groups that spend most of their time arguing the finer points of Roberts Rules of Order. In either case, nothing gets done.

3.) Groups with either no discretionary money, or too much discretionary money.  These both lead to absurdities. In the case of the former: Groups that don’t have time to train together because the members are all working six days a week at minimum wage jobs. In the case of the latter: A group of mostly rich lawyers with an elaborate five year food supply and a bunch of expensive guns that they’ve never zeroed. Because they feel logistically “prepared” they don’t bother with tactical training or to practice traditional skills. God forbid they should get their hands dirty.

4.) Groups that are have no religious common ground, or groups with so many shared common beliefs that they become dogmatic and intolerant of anyone who doesn’t share their precise views on eschatology.