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Professions in EVE Online
As most players are well aware, there aren't any real professions in EVE. Though you can train skills from any discipline, there is no way to (or reason to) specialize in one, as in traditional MMORPGs. However, there are a number of ways to spend your time if you are interested in profiting from your efforts. The three most popular ways to make isk are mining, salvaging and trading, but you can also turn a profit by running missions, working production, or exploring. This guide will help you decide which profession is right for you, explain how to get started, and provide hints and suggestions for how to make the most isk with your profession of choice.
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Making Isk with Mining
Mining is the backbone of the EVE Online economy. All player ships, weapons and equipment are built from minerals mined by players. It is not as quick to make money as trading and salvaging can be, at least at first, but it has the potential to be the best and most consistent money-making activity in the game. You can start mining early with ships like the Caldari Bantam or Osprey, stripping asteroids in high-security space and shipping the minerals where they need to go in a industrial ship like the Minmatar Mammoth. Though there are many ships that will do the job, these are some of the most effective and most easily available in the beginning.
It is possible to mine by filling up your miner's cargo hold and taking trips back to the station, but this is inefficient until you get a larger ship. As soon as you have access to industrial ships, you should take advantage of a method called jetcan mining - after you have filled your hold on your miner, jettison the ore. This will create a can in space that you can fill extremely full and return to with a larger ship. This is faster and more efficient. (Note: Other players can access these cans, but this will flag them for attack in high security space. This will not stop all of them, so you may want to purchase a portable security container)
After you have your ore at the station, you can either sell it raw or refine it. Whether you do this is up to you, and depends largely on your refining skill. Though it may seem involved, mining is a very lucrative and low-risk activity - a good way for any EVE player to start.
Important skills: Industry, Mining, Caldari Frigate/Cruiser, Minmatar [or your choice] Industrial, Mining Barge, Mining Drone operation, Refining, Astrogeology
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Making Isk as a Trader
Trading is both simpler and less complicated than mining and you can start while you're still a rookie. You need less equipment and fewer skills, but it requires more intuition, luck and skill at reading the market. The concept is deceptively simple: buy low, sell high. You can check the market history of any station or region and check out buy and sell orders on the market. Become familiar with these trends and look for opportunities to make significant proift. You will need a ship with a large cargohold, but aside from that, little else buy time and intelligence. There are skills that will increase your yield from buy and sell orders and if you want to make trading your primary profession, then you should certainly invest in them. Trading has the potential to be the biggest isk-generator in the game, but it's competitive, difficult and requires patience. It can also be the most rewarding.
Important skills: Social, Trade, Retail, Contracting, Accounting, Broker Relations, [Your preference, for hauling] Industrial
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Making Isk with Salvaging
An increasingly popular way to profit in EVE Online is salvaging - this is because it is not difficult to acquire the skills necessary to profit. It also more active than mining while still being profitable. The concept is simple: the salvager uses a salvager module (equipped in a high slot) to loot the wrecks of destroyed NPC and player ships. Some of these ships are more profitable than others, including player wrecks, which can yield some of the most lucrative goods. Many salvagers will run missions and loot the wrecks or clear asteroid belts of pirates and salvage those. Salvagers can also find good salvage in magnetometric sites, radar sites and complexes, though these may involve some difficult PvE and you should bring a friend just in case. Salvaging is less consistent than the other professions but has the potential to provide large sums of isk to the lucky and persistent.
Important skills: Mechanic, Survey, Astrometrics, Salvaging, Hacking, Archaeology
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Making Isk by Running Missions, Manufacturing and Exploring
Though the last few ways of earning isk are probably the most popular, they are not necessarily the most profitable. Here are some other ideas on how to make isk if none of the previous professions seems your speed.
Running missions is an increasingly popular way to earn money in EVE Online. These are simple PvE missions that can be done to earn isk or gain influence with factions. One advantage to doing these missions is that if you bring along a salvager or other equipment, you can gain even more isk while you're getting rewards simply for doing the mission.
Manufacturing can be extremely profitable - and since all EVE items are produced by player crafting, it is necessary - but it often takes a lot of start-up capital to begin. If you have the right skills (industry, corporation management, mass production, etc.) and a great deal of money and patience, it can skyrocket you to great wealth.
Exploring is also a popular way of making isk. The concept is simple - using probes to scan down sites in a system, a person can find valuable hidden locations for salvaging, hacking or analyzing (Here is a good tutorial on using probes). Though often random and sometimes difficult, one lucky drop can really reverse a person's fortunes.
There you have it! Hopefully this guide will get you started on your way to fortune and success in the vast world of EVE Online.