Most of the crafting professions require the aid of someone with a particular gathering profession to supply the necessary materials. For example, a leatherworker needs skinned leather. Since your character can learn two primary professions, it is often wise to pick two skills that complement each other.
There is little or no reason not to spend time learning the secondary skills. Fishing and cooking can be boring, but first aid is essential to the survival of most players.
To learn a new profession, you must first locate a Profession Trainer. You will need to train the apprentice level of skill (this can be trained at any trainer). At that point you will have a skill level of 1 out of a possible 75. As you practice the skill it will increase. (See Using a Profession.)
As you gain skill, you may be able to learn new recipes from your trainer. Also, when you are approaching a skill of 75, you will want to train beyond being an apprentice to a journeyman, which will also grant you a new Achievement. This will raise your skill cap to 150. Otherwise, you will never go past 75.
You will be able to visit a trainer again to increase your skill cap to 225, 300, 375 and 450. (These levels are called Expert, Artisan, Master and Grand Master.) As your skill increases, you will be able to make newer and more interesting things...or be able to harvest more challenging items in the case of gathering skills.
To use a gathering profession, you only need to find an item you can gather and right-click it. For skinning, this is as simple as killing a creature that is skinnable and then looting the body. Once it's been looted, simply right click it to skin it. For herbalism and mining, you will need to locate herb and ore nodes. Fortunately, you will have a tracking skill for finding nearby plants and deposits. You will need a skinning knife to skin or a mining pick to mine. These can be bought from any "Trade Goods Vendor."
Production professions are slightly more complicated. First you will need to open your spellbook and look under the General tab for your profession. This will open a Tradeskill Window that will list all of your available recipes, and in parentheses after each is the number of those things that you can actually make/perform based on the materials you have in your inventory. Clicking on a particular recipe will show the items required in the lower half of the window. If you are able to make this item, you can press the Create or Create All button to start crafting.
It is important to note that the recipes (and gathering attempts) will be written in different colors.
As you become a more capable craftsman, the recipes may shift into a lower color, so it is important to keep up with the most recent recipes you can train.
All production professions will have some items that you cannot learn from a trainer. Instead, you will find a recipe out in the world. Some of these will be from a Limited Supply vendor, and others will be World Drops.
Training to the next tier of craftsmanship requires finding a trainer that is able to teach it to you. Most trainers have a limit on what they can teach you. If you are looking to move beyond them, then you may need to travel to another location. If you read the text on the trainer before clicking the "I would like to train" dialog, they will usually indicate where you can find a more capable trainer. You can also refer to our List of Trainers.
It should also be noted that moving to the next tier has a required level associated with it. You must be level 1 to begin a tradeskill, 5 to become a journeyman, 10 for expert, 20 for artisan, 30 for master and 45 for grand master.
If you should decide that you want to embark upon a new profession, you will have to unlearn one of your two existing professions. To do this, open your Skills Window, click on the skill you wish to unlearn, and click on the "no" symbol next to the skill listing that appears at the bottom.
Some production skills also have specialties. When you reach a certain level, you can pick up a focus in one aspect of the profession. This allows you access to certain specific recipes, or in the case of alchemy, bonuses when trying to create potions/elixirs/transmutes.
Production skills seldom, if ever, make money. Most players who invest heavily into being a complete leatherworker or engineer will find themselves in the red. It takes some good business sense to find items nobody else has or is making money from and exploiting the market. It can also take tenacity. For that reason, if your goal is to make money, it is not advised to work on a production tradeskill. As a cruel irony, the reason production skills lose money is because they spend it on raw materials from the Auction House that gatherers collect.
It is recommended if you would like to start your toon with a foundation of gold, to take two gathering skills instead. Plan ahead to drop one of them around lvl 50, and pick up a tradeskill that will enable your character to get the optimized gear or weapons that you need. Until then, the best thing you can do if money is your goal, is to stick to the gathering path.
Skinning and either Herbalism or Mining will net a greater profit than nearly any other pairing. Mining and Herbalism is particularly nice because you will often find nodes and herbs in the same locations. With the introduction of Jewelcrafting in BC, there is an increased need for copper, tin, and silver as well, and its very easy to have a growing stash of gold from your mining. The ore/bars you get in Mining are used by Jewelcrafters, Engineers, and Blacksmiths so you have an increased net of customers to sell to. Herbalism will start off slow in gold, but as you hit outlands you will find yourself with a healthy profit from your time gathering.
Enchanting also has great potential for making money, without requiring a gathering skill, but tends to be very expensive to level. See Making Gold by Disenchanting
A frequently asked question is "What tradeskills should I do?" You must consider what you expect from a tradeskill, whether to make money, or fill a niche in the market, or simply produce some useful items for your character. There are some crafter-only items for each profession to encourage players to not just rely on others for their production.
While it is possible to combine herbalism and mining, it's less ideal than the other pairings because both make use of the tracking feature and only one type of tracking can be used at a time.
Tradeskill professions are divided into three subcategories:
Primary, and some Secondary, professions are also grouped into 3 sub-categories: