Who Will Be The Most Important People After Societal Collapse?


Do you have what it takes to be one of the most important or sought-after people after the collapse of society as we know it today?

There will be several significant groups of talents which will strongly affect the course of events or the nature of things following a breakdown of modern society…

These primary groups will be made up with those who have contributing knowledge, experience and skills having to do with our basic and necessary ‘needs’ for long term survival. Within each group will be subsets of skills (some of which will reach across other groups), and these subsets will each relate and contribute up towards the the primary objective of each group.


Gardeners, Farmers, Horticulture

Anyone with expertise related to the procurement of food, will be deemed important.

Successful gardeners and farmers will be highly valued, even more than those with hunting skills, because the probable situation will be a diminishing harvest of wild animal resources for consumption after a fairly short while in many areas. The skills for raising livestock will also be important, although these animals will need food and water too…

The fact is, humans can live from the right foods grown in the ground, and those with experience in this area will be providing a life-sustaining asset to the group, and may be the most important of all.


Water Management, Environmental Engineer, Plumbing

Anyone who has experience with things having to do with all things ‘water’, including procuring, storing, and treatment for drinking, waste management, irrigation, and the associated plumbing, construction, and electro-mechanical skills to build, power, and maintain these systems.

Safe drinking water. Sanitation. Watering/irrigating your garden. It’s one thing to deal with this for yourself, but it’s quite another to provide for a group, especially and potentially without today’s modern infrastructure systems.



Anyone with the hands-on skills to build and maintain things having to do with ‘shelter’, especially those with the ability to work with more primitive methods of building and constructing without electricity. These are the people who could build from materials that are available, things like shelters/home, barns/out-buildings, fences, and other infrastructure.

This group might include people who are knowledgeable in the field of alternative energy, which could be extremely valuable assuming that the associated materials and equipment have been procured and are operational. Utilizing water for energy, the sun, and the ‘how-to’ knowledge to apply it.


Protection, Security

Anyone with particular experience and skills having to do with all things ‘security’ will be very important, and a necessary asset to the overall group in order to establish defensive and offensive plans and procedures dealing with others who may wish to do the unit harm.

There is little doubt that during an all-out collapse that this group will be a very important asset, especially during the initial timeline when the sheeple have just realized that they’re up the creek without a paddle… and the immediate months that will follow.

While just about anyone can shoot a firearm, etc., the best in this group will probably be those with direct experience with such strategic and combat issues… ex-military, police, security, etc.


Doctors, Nurses, Medical

Anyone having worked in the medical field, especially doctors and nurses, will be a life-saving asset for injuries, which will surely happen.

Without the luxuries afforded us by our modern medical systems (hospitals, high-tech, etc.), any injury could rapidly become life-threatening. Safety should and will become a very important habit in a post-collapse world.


In summary, immediately following the collapse of society will not leave enough time to learn and become successful at new skills such as farming or gardening, for example. Your mistakes could cost your life (no food). So, this implies that those who already have the skills, will be the one’s who stand a better chance of longer term survival.

I know that this is all pretty logical stuff having to do with rebuilding and sustaining a community, but it warrants thought. Many in modern society have skills which would be useless post-disaster. Knowing that… may motivate some of you to learn one or two ‘basic’ skills which may contribute to saving your life IF you ever needed them for real…

While the list above is off the top of my head while contemplating only what may be the ‘most’ important of the many… there are many others which will be of practical and useful input to a group after a societal collapse. Feel free to add to the list with your comments…

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  1. Excellent article as usual.

    I would add that in any event, upon the collapse of modern society, it is the natural tendency of civilized man to organize. To that end, there will be a need for those who can organize people and direct energies. In a chaotic situation, there always seems to be one or more folks who step up and begin to direct traffic, so that individual energies can be put together to create a smoother operation.

    1. Thanks… and yes there will be those who are better natural leaders than others, and those who have a better overall understanding of what needs to be done… making them potentially better organizers than others.

      It will no doubt be a challenge too, in that there will also be personality conflicts (just like today – its human nature) and all that goes along with it. Although in the beginning I believe that most will be too concerned about establishing a basis and infrastructure for ‘living’ and will be too busy to devolve much into internal conflict (assuming that those involved are all on the same philosophical prepping page, so to speak).

      1. Personality conflicts are something that I believe will sort themselves out in very short order. Survival needs will trump any other personal “feelings” and lead to those in conflict either working it out, or one of them leaving the “community”.

    2. i’ve noticed in today’s society with the advent of gps many people don’t know how to read a map. i think orienteering and map reading will be of value. i learned this skill in the military many years ago. my son, active duty navy, can read a gps map but not a topographical map and orient it to his surroundings. that’s my two cents.

  2. Great article!
    Makes you think. I suppose it would double your importance if you were, say, a nurse, but also happened to know a lot about gardening. Or, a gardener who learns what they can about plumbing….
    This is my goal; to have as many skills in the different areas as possible.
    I already have many years experience growing food, raising livestock and preserving food, so I’ve taken first aide and CPR courses, I’ve learned plumbing basics, have some experience in construction, have quite a bit of firearms training, next is electrical.

    1. Thanks Tammy… I know that you are quite skilled in gardening and providing food based on your many contributing comments to MSB. The fact that you continue to challenge yourself is exceptional, and is something that helps us even in good times. It is one of the keys to success…

      Keep growing!

      1. Ken, I have to give credit where credit is due. I was raised by my Grandma, who also raised many of my cousins (after raising her own 10 kids). She insisted that we all ‘learn something new every day’. If we wanted to learn something that she didn’t know, she would find someone who did to teach us. I still ‘have’ to learn something new every day.

  3. don’t forget about people like “the Governor” as in The Walking Dead series

    if government collapses
    someone will come in and fill the power vacuum

    local economies may well re-institute and organize around such “warlords”

    1. Thanks for your comment. Yes that is good insight! The TV series, The Walking Dead, exemplifies scenarios for sure…

      Most people are followers (that’s just the way it is), and will latch on to whomever they believe will ‘provide’, while unknowingly being ‘used’ for ulterior motives (which is why they’re sometimes called ‘sheeple’).

      Many will align with bad leaders (of which there will be many). Like you said, there will be a power vacuum, and people ‘need’ their leaders. Warlords is a very good way to put it. Which is why security WILL be EXTREMELY important in a full-on societal collapse.

    1. Yes indeed… sewing, stitching, quilting, shoe repair, shoe-making, keeping the clothes on your back, keeping warm, etc… Absolutely.

    2. Only in the northern latitudes. I fear the south will morph into some kind of strange Uber-Nudist-Colony. Picture Johnny Reb in a G-string. Since I still can’t seem to sew a button on, I would find anyone with that skill a critical asset.

      Maybe next a list of skills we won’t need.

      Financial advisor
      Wall Street trader

    1. @George;
      Yes, that would be an excellent skill. We have a farrier/blacksmith living on our property in his 5th wheel trailer for just this reason. He lives here free, in exchange for taking care of our horses, and teaching me about what he does. I’m not physically capable of smithing, but I figure if I learn as much as I can, maybe I can instruct someone more able to do the physically difficult parts.

  4. Enjoyed this article Ken.

    I know that Older people who can teach and younger people with strong backs willing to learn will be valuable. Strong Moral Men who can lead, and Strong Moral Women to keep the younger ones in line to form the next generation will be a rare and very important key to success.

    Plumbers and Engineers to keep water flowing, Farmers and Laborers to keep food on the table. Electricians to keep the lights on…And Warriors to keep what you worked hard to produce.

    Most of us want to think that we will be able to keep our people safe and secure, but how few people have actually killed to survive. Just like when you meet a true farmer you know he has certain skills…same for when you meet a true warrior, you usually know it.

    I think I will get some good laughs out of the smart-assed video game kids who wear skinny jeans and think they know it all! Gotta keep some comedy in our lives too!
    God Save This Great Republic

  5. Don’t leave out those who can fix things, generators, pumps, small engines, saws, sharpen knives, blades, etc.
    All skills will be important

  6. Experience in law enforcement,if I wouldn’t’t use it I wouldn’t strap it on.Do farming,have water access on my property,we network with our neighbors of a like mind,already have plans for after the SHTF.Be prepared and ready.Keep your powder dry.

  7. In the old days
    “Those who hold the gold hold the power”

    Those who hold the gold need somewhere to keep it safe – that’s the main purpose of all those castles in Europe.

    The man that holds the gold needs an army to keep his castle and gold safe.
    With the gold he pays everyone else to do their appointed job.
    The man who he pays the most will be the landholder. The landholder will have food producers and workers to help them.
    Then there will be those who make clothes and every other every day absolutely necessary item.

    The man with the gold will protect all these people with his army. The price of protection is taxes.

    Everyone else will be superfluous. The person who doesn’t produce anything will be redundant. Actors and entertainers had little status above prostitutes until relatively recent history

    The old saying has been modified to
    “The man that holds the energy holds the power”

  8. These are really great comments. I have thought about this myself, as in: “What skills can I offer a community?”
    …besides being a fit female, able to do manual labor.

    R.L. touched upon this in his/her comment above.

    Although I have a background in PR/ Communications (useless during a collapse), I also have experience (and a degree) in teaching. So, it may be refreshing to go “back to basics” with the young children who still need to be taught and supervised, from about 5-6 years old to 10-12, or until they want / need to work.

    Also, as many have mentioned above, with human nature being what it is, we will have many human conflicts, along with warriors and protectors of communities omnipresent. However, personal relations and some type of teaming together of “good” communities who may live near each other, might be necessary.

    Some basic “inter-community” skills will be essential, after the first (few) year(s) of initial shock wear off.

    I think I might be able to offer some interpersonal services there, using human relations skills to create viable agreements between smaller nearby communities, who might be able to work together for some sort of mutual benefit.
    (All while carrying my own protection and partnering with a Warrior by my side, to be sure!)

    Just a thought. I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. Am I thinking too far ahead, or making too many assumptions?

  9. to TBD

    myself, i disagree with you.

    I do not think your background in PR / Communications will be useless…..that is, NOT if you are any good/maybe even excellent in PR/Communications…

    teaching is good, sure.

    however, i thnk if SHTF persons who are good at making clear current/best available options/resources – getting info accross – sorting through confusing / contradictory info / presenting it all to folks/confused – scared folks in a cohesive/comprehensible manner, will be valuable. maybe even leaders.

    hang on to those PR/Communication skills, maybe add to them…learn alternate methods/techniques of communication etc…

  10. Speaking of communications, another good one is someone who knows Ham Radio, electronics, has comms gear, radios, batteries and alt-solar-energy to charge and keep operating.

    Comms throughout the group, especially security, would be important, and comms from farther away for information and maybe coordination with others.

    If the collapse was caused by an EMP then this might not work (except for old tube radios or radios that were kept in a Faraday cage).

    1. I think old radio and other forms of communications would be very valuable, as would the old equipment and the skills to repair them. Anyone with mechanical aptitude would be valuable to existing in all but the most basic levels.

  11. Being an able bodied hard working person with critical thinking skills is always desirable….before during and after a crisis.

    1. You are right on the money with that one. Unfortunately critical-thinking is a skill that’s harder and harder to find…

  12. Most people can cook. It takes a Chef to cook with other peoples hands.
    You will need people who can direct the manual labor of others.
    Knowing how to do things and having the stuff to do it in many types of situations. Knowing how to get unskilled people to do simple tasks to get a larger job done could be priceless.

  13. That’s an interesting question for sure. I have listened to a few pod-casts with guys who are prepping for the end of the world, and those guys were pretty fanatical about how it was going to be their way or the highway.

  14. cant wait to see bankers, realtors, lawyers and judges out there shoveling shit and painting houses! it happened during the great depression and it’ll happen again.

    also can’t wait to see celebrities and trophy wife types humbled!

    1. heh! heh!
      Bankers and money lenders have been present since infinity.
      The second oldest profession – next to prostitution.

    2. That’s actually an interesting thought. Most of the trophy wives in my experience got where they are by being ruthless, amoral and utterly focused on their goals–my guess is that a lot of them will survive the initial chaos if SHTF.

      Celebrities…depends on how and why. Those who fought their way up have a better chance of survival than most. Those who had success handed to them or are simply notorious attention mongers will likely be among the first to die (probably taken off by a disgruntled employee when the bodyguards leave).

  15. I would like to add what about all the people how are new to the group. The people we dont know you can trust. Because there will be a lot that will show up and need help.I know how to do a lot of the things that will keep me and my family going ok, and have a small farm, we also can and eat what we store.but when something like shtf (I hope dose not ever happens) I will not be able to help more then a couple small groups 15/20 max.the rest i hope can go some place but know right now that not all will go without thethreat of beaing shot, to TDB , the fact that you are a fit woman will be a good asset, i dont want you to think you will need to resort to the oldest profrtion but the fact is alot will and that is not even the worst that will happen to most , keep prepping and make freinds you trust.hillbilly out

  16. I would also like to add some other skills to the list,cooking ,night watchman (you will need it) maid( alot of people make a mess and you dont want a break out of the who knows what) horse trader ( you know that guy we all know that can get stuff for next to notthing ) also you will need to get stuff and most stuff is not light or close and will need transpotation, so a macanick is a must also you will need sewing for more then clothes when you work wiht hand tools you will end up with a bad cut sooner then you think, and if you are not used to it much sooner

  17. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned a survivalist. These people are well versed in several critical areas.

  18. I love this article and the comments thereof. It makes me wish i lived near you all haha!

    With that said, i feel life would be hard for me. I have a lot of skills, but no expertise. I can cook quite well, which would only be helpful if i had something to cook. I know how to start fires with almost anything, and i know how to trap and hunt. I know basic survival skills, but this limits me to providing for myself and my wife only. I have good firearms training, but no guns! i can create shelters and keep me and my wife warm. But as far as providing for a community, i would struggle to prove my worth, aside from being a fast learner. I do have some plumbing experience from helping my brother out on calls, but nothing to make me very special.

    HOWEVER, i am currently training for the airforce special ops, SERE specialist. I go to bootcamp in march. The training in survival that i will receive will be invaluable to me and a community, especially since sere specialists are trained to teach others what we know. I just hope it doesnt hit the fan until at least then (hopefully never).

    In the meantime, ill continue my martial arts classes (over ten years of various arts, karate, jui jitsu, boxing, and kung fu! Yea, hand to hand is something i might be able to provide for a community, as i teach this as well…) And ill continue to try and learn as many things as i can.

    Thanks all for the info and good discussion!

    1. It reads like you are well on your way to possessing many skills and talents which will help you through your life. Do well!

  19. I have many many years of experience in two of the four subcatagories…. So, Who wants to start the bidding? LOL

  20. This is an AWESOME discussion on what we all have to offer. Thanks, all, for the encouragement about the PR/Communications / teaching usefulness.

    Indeed, I’ve done a lot of personal development work, both for my emotional well-being, ability to communicate my desires / needs, as well as my “tool”-handling and carrying skills in close-to-real-life situations. (If you get my drift on that last one.)

    It is also heartening to hear that those of us (myself included) with critical thinking skills will be useful, even if it’s only enough to know when to shut up, grab a shovel, and work hard!

    It is also exciting to see that there are so many like-minded folks out there –likely spread across our great Republic– who are sentient beings, and will lead (or support) communities when all of this goes down. And it surely will.

    1. I just wanted to add all the skills in the world will not help anyone if you are not in a safe area to start with. And have a small amount of the things you will need to start out with. I’m in a county setting and still prep when money allows. I think some good skill sets for you would be learn to home canning and gardening. It is a good way to start on the cheap, and will help out when you have extra stuff from the garden. I hope you at least plant a few veggies in a small planter if you dont have a yard, or time for a bigger one. You can also buy from local stores by the case most times at a lower cost if you talk about what you are going to do and offer them a pint or two. Good luck and if i can help let me know. hillbilly out

  21. to trypod xl, just want to add good tag on the books , most people will need to learn the things that they thought they already knew. When the times get hard it will be a good asset.

  22. Don’t forget a record keeper. Somebody will need to help keep track of all manner of different community things. A midwife. People with skills in alternative/herbal medicines. People with skills in brain tanning. Leather workers, weavers. Sheep shearers. Just a few that came to mind.

  23. “Sanitation” folks…
    that is folks who understand (well) how safe/effective sanitation should work (whether it is a properly functioning outhouse/honey wagons/modern sewers/dig a hole and bury it)..

    in almost every natural disaster i’ve watched on the news, one of the first serious problems to cope with is sewage/sanitation. everytime i hear about underdevelope countries, there is a hue and cry to implement “modern” sanitation (in these instances, myself, i think they should stick with the old fashioned – outhouse etc techniques)

    anyway, my thought is, someone who understands the ins and outs of many different sanitation options, will be valuable in SHTF

  24. Everyone did a pretty good job coming up with what would be needed. After experiencing several disasters, the number one thing needed is water- and the ability to ensure it is safe to use! In hot weather and for perishables- Ice or a way to keep things cold. I know a lot about wild foods- both in the Northwest and the South, as well as medicinal plants, herbs- and about nutrition. In discussing and going over the skills my extended family has, we realized there were a few that could be helpful, that one may not consider. In addition to the obvious- nursing/medical, mechanical, gardening, animal husbandry, hunting, building- several people know a foreign language and basic sign language- this may end up being very helpful, and they could teach others. Combined- we have a substantial collection of books, which, if electronics are compromised, would be needed. We could easily provide educational resources from birth thru some college. Educational materials, how-to manuals, survival guides, mechanical guides, etc. would all be needed. True, survival comes first, but I believe ‘the beautiful is as useful and the useful, more so perhaps’- as well. There is a need, eventually, for aesthetics and art- for something to remind us of our humanity- dance, art, music- those who possess these, as well as more practical skills and can teach them would be valued in my group.

  25. The first day and weeks to follow you will need water, food, and the ability to keep it. If your thinking of growing more food you had better of already planted it. Most plants take about three months before you can harvest. When the cities run out of food the gangs will slowly head out of town looking for food. They will most likely run in large gangs and take what they want or can, yes they will be well armed. The ability to keep what you have will be the only important job the first day, week and month. Be ready….

  26. It partially depends upon the season.

    For example, the most important contributors to a tribal community are arguably herdsmen. Meat produces a lot of fat and muscle protein, potentially milk with goats and cows, eggs if chickens or quail, younger animals for the next season (but can be more if rabbits), and manure. That manure will sweeten the soil for the following growing season by altering the pH and introducing a nitrogen source. Cow manure, since it’s composed of dried grasses that have passed through the numerous digestive pouches, ends up being just about perfect for a firewood substitute, especially if combined with other yard waste. Of course this is after it dries in the hot Summer. It can actually burn so hot that it might void some wood insert warranties.

    Pound for pound, and not to intentionally irritate the vegans, meat will feed far many in a post-collapse world. It takes a lot of harvested wild edible plants or cultivated ones to have the same amount in such a small space.

    This all means that those who produce meat and can produce the litters of young that survive later, and can determine what feed changes to make for a variety of illnesses or deficiencies, or can troubleshoot other problems like predators, will be extremely important much of the time.

    Cropwise, from mid-March through mid-November, those who produce cultivated plants and who understand how to harvest wild edibles can provide a lot of important sources of starches (carbohydrates), vitamins, minerals. Low blood sugar will be a constant issue. We’ve all been spoiled by lots and lots of sugar. One need only speak to some survival experts or watch a real wilderness survival show to see the effects of low glycogen upon survivors. Weakness, rapid onset weariness, even fainting can occur as the brain says to the body, “You’re too low on blood sugar and I’m cutting you off…” as one loses consciousness.

    Plants can produce a great amount of protein too. I won’t deny it. The problem with all of that it takes time for the plant to grow and be harvested. A non-gardener is always surprised how long it takes to prepare the soil, add amenities to it, plant seeds, water it, remove weeds without disturbing the growing plants, fertilize it, slowly watch it all grow, then finally begin the first gleanings from it. After that is the long process of preserving it by canning or dehydration.

    Very few things can be harvested until later May. In fact, unless one carefully prepared and preserved as much as possible, then one could easily starve much of the year. While some of us live in rural regions and are used to hunting, fishing, and trapping…with so many attempting to do those things post-collapse, it’s very possible that overharvesting of creatires could occur in the month in which a collapse occurs. As such, the value that these folks add will certainly be minimal.

    As the hunter/trapper/fisherman travels looking for creatures to harvest, they are absolutely cognizant of that fact. As such, it will require more and more and more calories through scouting and tracking to find them. It might not be worth it and could accelerate starvation. Even then, there are seasons in which to harvest things like crayfish, squirrels, wild rabbits, etc.

    Agriculture and animal husbandry were major technological improvements in tribal societies. The only truly successful hunter/gatherer societies had abundant game like the buffalo. Those days are long gone.

    At certain times of the year, the most important people might be the engineering types. Let’s say it’s the onset of Winter when a collapse comes. If that happens and you have no water source, and rainfall is sparse in Winter, then the ones who have shallow point well equipment and know-how would be the supremely important folks. While a river might be somewhat close by, once you begin doing the math of calories burned to haul it back, I think you’ll realize you cannot sustain traveling very far at all. It’s dangerous. It’s chancey for someone might rob your folks who are hauling water, for their cart, buckets, water purification material is all worth more than gold post-collapse.

    Those same engineering types know how to actually make a lifting device for the water, and believe it or not, that information is pretty spectacular in saving you tons of work as water is extremely heavy even from a well. If they know sanitation and know how to construct a Bio-sand filter, then they might save the entire tribe.

    If it’s Winter and there are adequate provisions, but only one family had the forethought and skills to harvest things like Echinacia, garlic, mullein, etc then those folks will be the most important folks around. If they know how to do percussive therapy, deliver a baby especially one with issues, then all the more so.

    The main problem that I foresee, and not to be insulting, because I promise I am not, is that most Americans don’t have any skills that are useful post-collapse. After Henry Ford and Automation and being the widget turner, in a world of too many chiefs and not enough Native Americans, well all of the paper pushers really don’t have skills that will save them.

    Our rural ancestors were clever people. If they didn’t have a way to grind grain, not to mention grow it, then they would make something to grind the grain into flour (like a quern, a totally lost art today). If our ancestors needed to dye cloth, they knew what to use as a fixative (a mordant) and the kinds of plants in which to harvest to preserve the dye, then how to apply it.

    What do most people know today? At best, they know what to purchase at the hardware store if they need to do something. Most don’t know how to use the tools to make the repair.

    We are all very disconnected from the creative roles in which we were born to do. All because we sold our souls for a regular paycheck.

  27. I agree completely. The ability to navigate via the stars and the sun will also be important.

  28. So many good thoughts and opinions. …. However, one thing that i found missing throughout all comments – No one has mentioned or apparently given thought to the needs of mankind for spiritual growth and development. A man or woman of God, who has also other talents and abilities . . . . I am a VET, (RECON SCOUT/Sniper), Ordained Preacher, experience in Executive Protection, (among a few of my life experiences.)

    Through all of that, the one thing that has tied my life together, the one thing that has enabled me to walk through the valleys of the shadow of death without loosing my sanity, has been Christ Jesus and my faith in Him. Having at least one person whose life has been dedicated to God, involved and associated with any group, will aid in the group being truly cohesive and lasting, i.e. – SURVIVING

    1. For the most part, I think those who believe in God have Him as so much a part of their lives that they don’t really think about it. For me, He is just always there–reliance on Him isn’t so much a point of concern as an assumption. Saying I breathe air is just as obvious.

      With that being said, every community must have a moral compass or it will fail–CIP, the modern technological society that we see crumbling around us.

  29. The same skills that have been prized for centuries. Tanner, shoemaker, weapons maker, knife maker, flint knapper, blacksmith, baker, axman, herdsman, weaver, clothesmaker, candlestick maker, furniture maker, signer, ferrier, fisherman, cook, foodprep, (pickling, drying and smoking meat and fish), tracker, hunter, fighter, boatbuilder, gardner and medicine man. Hasn’t changed much in a thousand years. The guys that can hand roll cigarettes will have an income for a very long time. In my go-bag I’ve got a hand crank cigarette roller and a several cases of rolling papers and tobacco packets, and I don’t smoke.

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