Become A More Well Rounded Prepper With A Practical Skill Set

Most everyone is good at ‘something’. Most have ‘a job’ or a career which is likely complementary with a skill or skill set. Something that you’re good at. Or a specific skill that you have learned along the way. Even if retired, the road that led there surely involved one or more definitive skill sets.

Many have have their own specialty skills and areas of so called ‘expertise’. While some, many, or most of these areas of expertise may be specific and valuable within the framework of today’s modern world, those same skill sets may not necessarily be practical or beneficial in a post-collapse (or semi-collapsed) world.

Instead, or in addition to, it may be of some value to become more ‘well rounded’. I mean expanding one’s skill sets in a practical way to improve self-reliance and self-worth. Complimentary to a more self-reliant lifestyle. And/or for a (potentially future) world that may not be so ‘modern’ anymore. (Some indicators point towards that uncertain future)

Today’s modern world. Narrowly focused, specialized careers. Evem today’s broader skill sets are intertwined with high technology, and focused-specialized modern methodologies. There’s nothing wrong with that of course. We are fortunate to be living in a modern world of conveniences and technologies. However if you place yourself in a hypothetical world which has collapsed to some extent, how many of those skills and abilities will be of practical importance or value?

When you get down to the basics (for example, the things that our ancestors were particularly good at), how many posses any of those skills and abilities? How many have a well rounded skill set such as that?

What will be important during a time of post-modern world? A broad set of ‘practical’ and ‘hands-on’ skills that compliment the basics of survival and self-reliance.

Additionally, the more practical skills that are possessed, the easier it is at adapting to a variety of situations and challenges. The more well-rounded your skill sets, the easier it is to adapt.

So, what practical skills might help shape a person into a more well rounded prepper? As I’m sure you can imagine, there are quite a lot of them to consider. We’ve listed many here on the blog in previous posts. However a few thoughts include the following:

  • Homesteading, Farming
  • Mechanic / Mechanical
  • Carpentry, Construction
  • Home Cooking / Home Canning
  • ‘The Trades’ e.g. electrical, plumbing, etc.
  • First Aid, Medical
  • Alternative Energy
  • Communications, Ham Radio
  • Bushcraft

I believe that you’re getting the idea… (article linked below)

Because we live in a modern world where we can buy pretty much anything or any service, this same modern world has essentially eliminated the need to know basic practical skills of yesteryear. In order to become a more well rounded prepper one should expand their practical skill sets.

Tip: One person cannot be totally proficient in all skills. However it is possible to achieve the title of “jack of all trades”.

Example: Given my years of experience, I’ve brought that title upon myself. I’ve forced myself to self-learn quite a few things (skills) over the years. I’m a do-it-yourself kinda guy (to the extent that I can). From early years as a youngster working in a hardware store, to being influenced by my dad’s career in an industry requiring electro-mechanical skills, to purchasing my first (and next) home as a ‘fix-er-upper’ (in an effort to afford/save-money), I invested in myself to learn how to do many things, rather than hiring it all out. Though all of my projects over the years have cost me time, it has saved me tons of $$ – and has provided a broad skill set which dovetails nicely into my present lifestyle of semi-homesteading, and an extent of practical prepping & preparedness.

[ Read: Practical Skills That People Once Knew ]


  1. The most important trait: The willingness to jump in and get started. Most things are no where near as difficult as we imagine them to be. Go ahead, cut that pipe, you know, just to see. The fix may become obvious. That wire may have just come loose. Worth a look. On and on. Lots of talented folks on this site.

  2. It is good to be well-rounded and a “jack-of-all-trades” Independence and a viable skill set will always be valuable in the world we live in. But be aware that your individual talents are also valuable to those who are in charge. If and when we experience an era of dystopia tyranny, the “government” will determine much of what you do and where you can do it. Recent information posted online says that preppers have been deemed a part of the White Supremacist movement by the FBI. Because we are prepared, because we are independent, we are a threat to totalitarianism in all it’s ugly forms. So be prepared and develop your skills but do not be surprised if you are targeted for being a “Good American”.

    “If there was hope, it must lie in the proles, because only there, in those swarming disregarded masses, eighty-five percent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated.” – G Orwell

  3. All my life I’ve had to depend on myself to succeed, being as I’ve spent most of my life self employed farming/cattle operation. That meant I’ve had to learn a wide range of skills, which I did learn, some easy, some the hard way.

    Lately I’ve been focusing on skills our For-Fathers had in-order to survive, 1800’s stuff. I’m reading the whole set of Foxfire books and learning a lot of new stuff. I’m retired, I have the time to experiment, fail, then try again.

    I’ve got a lot of skill bases covered, but I also have a lot that are not. I have been collecting old tools for ground work, processing and livestock management, ect. Old school stuff, quite fun actually, but old school stuff is labor intensive, that’s where I come up short, body is all beat up and shoveling or sawing, hammer in nails stuff like that is getting harder to do.

    Failure is just the first step in success, don’t be afraid, jump right in there and get those hands dirty

  4. Very true Plainsmedic but many folks I know, young and old, have had no tradition of hands on work or practical skills. This goes for men as well as women. I hope I am not painting with too broad a brush here but I feel that on our road there is one younger guy, one middle age guy and me an old coot who have the knowledge and tools to fix older cars or build a house for example. I have found over the years if you can get your head to where the other person is you can walk them through a job. As many of us get older this will be important when we can no longer climb that ladder or hoist that weight! Explaining things and demonstrations when possible will be a valuable skill and if you have tolls and books they will be a valuable resource.

  5. Either keep or learn the old skills. There are some that know them. But one of us dies every day. Its job security for those of us that are still around. Know how to to set points or replace a condenser, set timing or troubleshoot fuel, air ignition. Know how to make a resonant circuit for an antenna for radio reception. Know how to make fire. Know how to cultivate and grow food. Know how to hunt. Know about energy management to keep your home warm or your batteries charged or your fuel tank full. Know how to make people understand what the important skills are. “Kids these days” don’t know what a corded phone is or why telephone lines use a negative battery voltage, or what a telegraph key is….. or even what a carburetor or tach and dwell meter is. I knew a lot of machinists growing up, because I grew up in a machine shop. I don’t know a single machinist nowadays. I would love to have a lathe and a mill, Kondia Power Mill or Southbend lathe. I could run them to make stuff. Most people can’t. There’s lots of things I can’t do. But getting older and struggling between trying to remember what I know and learning new things….. Thats the struggle for us old guys.

    1. I found it odd that a lot of old school machinists refused to learn CNC G code, or CAD software. Many old school electricians refused to learn PLC ladder logic, SCADA communications, inverter drive software or HMI soft controls. Many old school auto mechanics refused to learn CAN bus software, or basic electrical troubleshooting. When those dinosaurs did retire, very few picked up the new skill sets, and contractor experts were used instead to span the gap between those that could and could not. It turns out that a majority of the skill trades that should be able to do the work, can not.
      This is why it is so difficult to build anything requiring a degree of complexity. We can no longer efficiently build nuclear reactors, go to the moon, construct supersonic civilian transport, build continuously working water treatment plants, make fuel refinery plants, construct electrical transformers or build steel refineries.

  6. TMac,
    Consider the times your Grandfather grew up in when considering his comments. Back then, being a “degreed something” was key to success. Starting in the 1970s, that started changing. Truthfully, being a “jack of all trades” has served you ( and others) a lot better than being a “specialist”. Personally, I think you should be very proud of your abilities to take apart, analyze, & reassemble darn near everything put in front of you. “Hands on” & “Dirty hands” engineering experience is far more valuable in the long run than a “book degree” hanging on a wall. (Just an opinion from someone that has both)

  7. To Tmac and Minerjim on being (and staying) a generalist: My father was a design engineer so he was paid to be creative. In that job he was considered a genius. I was one of his kids that were, to his disappointment, normal. I could take and pass the classes butt I did not find a field in which I could excel at. The asian parents of that era encouraged their children to attend college and get a degree. Back in the 1970’s and 1980, the emphasis was on STEM education. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Over 50% of his children did end up graduating college of one type or another. I have become the poster-child of California’s Community College/Trade school program when I did poorly in my early years at a 4 year institution. You all have heard my story: I studied Economics at a Cal State school after becoming disenchanted with Forestry/Natural Resource Management. (Forestry majors DO NOT wander around campus reading the Wall Street Journal…it ain’t right!). I worked my way through 4 year college by working a succession of skilled jobs that required a trade school certificate or professional license. I never did the cap and gown walk because I was getting outfitted for my season in the Park Service and qualifying on the pistol and rifle range. (parents were mad about that for years). My first job in emergency services was as an EMT-1 driving ambulance in a large city. When I could no longer work as a cop, the ambulances would always hire me back. (I was a paramedic by then). I went to nursing school because I got tired of playing on the freeways of Central and Southern California. My father did his job without getting a masters degree. My brother, the software engineer, and myself have been working steady for decades without a masters degree as well.

  8. Some observations on staying a generalist from an economics major: Having worked and starting my career in emergency services in the early 1980’s, I lost count of the number of recessions and flash crashes the economy has gone through. The solution for many people who received pink slips was…to go back to school. Many people were too proud to go back to the junior colleges or trade schools and elected to go to a University to get their masters degree. I began to see the Masters programs at the Universities as a beacon for the lost and wayward still holding the pink slip from their last job. I found my niche as a generalist working at a job which means strange hours, working weekends at night and on Holidays. I am no longer stepping around the flare patterns, working in the rain and snow. I have not been shot at or had a gun pulled on me in years. (I settled down from my younger years). Some things can not be taught in school: Leadership: either you are or you are not. Rank and title is given…respect, you still gotta earn that. Teaching/instructing and mentoring: either you are or you are not willing to take the time and put forth the effort to answer questions and pass on your knowledge/tricks of the trade.
    This was my central point about whether you are a sheep, a sheep dog or a wolf in past articles. You are one or the other and you cannot go to school to become something out of character for your personality. The wolves and your fellow officers will sniff you out pretty quick by testing you. Often times, the best titles and labels that stick are the ones you are given/granted by other people at the workplace/not from schools.

  9. Calirefugee,
    You only get a Masters degree in engineering if you want into management or be a specialist. (BTW, Big Bang Theory is right, no one gets a Doctorate in Engineering, unless you want to be a professor). Never met an engineer that became a genius by getting a degree of any kind. The genius part was there first, and truthfully brought out by experience, not book learning. This goes for a lot of other “professions” too, imho.

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