POLL: What Services Will Be Valuable For Barter After Collapse Or SHTF ?


Previously we asked for your input regarding SERVICES that you might consider to be valuable for barter or trade in a post-collapse or SHTF world.

Based on your input of services, I’ve condensed them into a list so that you can participate in a poll to vote for those which you believe will be the most valuable for barter…

UPDATE: Poll Results Are In…

Note: No doubt that there are many additional logical and practical additions that could be made to the following list, however these are the immediate services (skills) that you came up with for now…

After more than 4,000 votes from more than 300 people, Here’s the list of most valuable services for barter after a collapse or SHTF.


Text list (in order)

Medical (Doctor, Nurse, any)
Gardener (Master, skilled farming, agriculture)
Water specialist (Wells, Filtration, Pumps)
Food preservation specialties (canning, dehydrating, etc..)
Handyman (Jack of all trades)
Building / Carpentry
Alt Energy (solar, wind, electro-mechanical)
Ammo Reloading
Animal Husbandry
Security (Guard, Patrol, Military experience, etc..)
Foraging / Horticulture
Mechanic (Auto, General)
Veterinarian (livestock, pets…)
Herbalist (medicine)
Fisherman (and boat skills)
Tailor (weaver, fabric, sewing)
Brewer (or winemaker, distiller)
Soap maker
Cook (Baker, all)
Sanitation specialist
Bicycle repair
Leader (Facilitator, Negotiator)
Teacher / Educator
Gristmill (manufacture of, operation thereof)
Mortician / Undertaker
Chemical, Biological specialist
Madam (…companionship)
Cabinet maker
Nuclear specialist
Vegan diet specialist

Also for your interest, here are the results of a previous poll regarding what you consider to be the most valuable ITEMS (as opposed to services) for barter or trade in a post-collapse world:

The Most Valuable Items For Barter After The Collapse


  1. not trying to be funny…..but prostitution has always been a choice for the last 4000 years

  2. One skill I forgot to mention, soap maker!
    Without it, there can be no civilization. :) I don’t know how true that is, but I know people will trade for it if they don’t have any.

    1. When we had to clean out my father in-laws house after he passed away, we found a cabinet full of soap that my mother in-law had purchased over time. There was about 20 years worth of soap. We are still using it and this was ten years ago. They came from overseas during WWII. I figure she must have dealt with shortages over there, and decided never to be without again.

      1. Of course it could also have been her ‘Soaps of the world’ collection. Shrug. I doubt there is a ‘use by’ date on soap.

      1. Thanks Ken, thing is there’s so much good stuff on the list. It was really tough trying to narrow it down to 20.

        1. Unfortunately my ‘POLL’ code doesn’t enable numbered priorities selection – so by limiting one’s choices it is cumulatively prioritizing the more who vote… Like you said though, there are lots of good choices and surely there are many more which are not currently on the list…

  3. I’m a nurse and my husband (HVAC mechanic)is learning blacksmithing and can fix anything. So we’re set. I think the water specialist should be number 1 though. If you don’t have water, a doctor can’t save you.

  4. Let’s turn back the clock a few hundred years.
    We had an agriculture based society.

    There will not be anyway to support most things that we have in this society. Especially think EMP.

    We will return to the cycle of plant, harvest, root cellar storage and canning. Meat will not be common as it takes quite a bit of grain to raise it. Like 1100 sf for 6-8 chickens. Hunting-for most areas, forget about it. There’s only so much Sammy the squirrel to go around.

    Think about how big your garden would have to be to get you through to the next harvest season. One acre? Two?
    Does anyone out there know?

    1. Then also consider how much harder it will be to get a harvest without modern inputs and preventive measures,
      People have no clue, it will not be pretty

      1. Kulafarmer, on that note, I reasoned since most will be desperate for garden produce we will all donate our gas from vehicles to farmers for tractors….then I learned most tractors are diesel. :-(

    2. Actually I have read articles ( I think on this site ) that basically tell you the answer to how large a garden you would need. I depends on what you grow as it would have to deal with calorie count and a potato would have more calorie’s than say lettuce.

    3. On a timeline of human civilization, our industrialized society is an anomoly. Less than 300 years old. Without cheap energy, the carrying capacity of planet Earth drops by about 6bn humans.

  5. More thought,

    Your question of how many acres are required to feed one person for one year. I have been working on that problem for a long time. My observation is: with intense gardening ( and no crop failures) it seems to work out to about 2 1/2 acres per person here in East Texas where we get good rain. This is hard work even with a tractor.

  6. The photo on this article suggests a short summer. Late May and colored leaves. :^)

    1. …yes, it’s wrong for the current season, but I simply liked it while searching for outdoor cabin paintings ;)

  7. This all would depend on the situation that led to the problem to begin with, and how serious the problem was. Because it all boils down to, what is required to survive, and that is food water shelter. And a doctor/dentist would be required should you become sick enough or injured severely enough that it would require treatment to survive. All the rest is fluff.

    You can find water at a lake or stream, you can filter it using very basic homemade filters, and sterilize it through heat or UV rays from the sun. Food can be grown, hunted and scavenged. Shelter can be just about anything, a hole in the ground, a cave, a natural structure, or something fabricated and any combination of the such.

    So what would the average person who didn’t prepare, didn’t have any extra of the essential items listed above to trade without having to do without? Not much. And even if somebody was prepared for a situation, would they be willing to put themselves out there, letting people know that they had extra, and what they had extra to trade? Sound like too much of a risk to me, unless it was absolutely necessary for survival.

  8. Here’s a skill that should be number one to acquire “bartering”. That would be a good topic, what good would all that stuff do if you won’t know how to trade?

  9. If you look at how far down leaders are, then our government should be really worried. It seems like most of us don’t think much about or of leaders in this situation.It gives a person food for thought about self governance and Independant thoughts of peppers.

  10. Think I agree with most this list, but I see things that support present technology (ie solar energy) disappearing pretty quickly, as society moves back to pre-industrial. Someone who can handle a wind-powered well pump might be much more needed than a wind-generator mechanic.

    1. I hear what you’re saying… and to an extent you are correct depending on the collapse and other parameters.

      However I do notice that there are a ‘zillion’ of these solar panels scattered all over the landscape (some areas more than others), along with lots of solar ‘farms’ with literally hundreds and thousands of panels. Assuming an EMP doesn’t burn out all the PV panel diodes (and other electronics) there’s a lot of energy sitting there to be harnessed and utilized. For example I know that my home will have electricity after the collapse (although security measures will be in place so as not to draw undue attention), and I will be using that electricity to power my well pump, etc..

      Since I didn’t specifically list a SHTF scenario for this poll, the votes will be generalized – which is why your statement could very well be correct.

  11. I predict in years, this nation will be forced to equip all homes with solar.
    I won’t be here to see it (I’m 64), but if this nation lasts it will have to happen.

    1. @jayjayo, with the way the EPA is attacking power plants, and everything else that breaths, it wont be that long. The main problem is how are they going to figure how to tax the use of solar? You know as well as anyone else it’s ALWAYS about how much tax money the sluverment can squeeze out of us.

  12. Good rankings on most. However, in a initial grid down situation, I’m not confident that a lot of doctors will be able to transition. I think herbalists should be of higher importance because of drug/supply shortages. It would be good to know if all doctors receive disaster training of some kind.
    Also, the “madam” ranking might be higher if it is “companionship”.

  13. jayjay, You’re right about the gas being important. Most tractors run on diesel but most rototillers run on gas and they will be in high demand. Store Stabil as the gas will go bad quickly without it. Does anyone know if gas or diesel can be re-refined if it goes bad?

  14. Despite the ire I will get let me say that generally there is no scientific basis for most of the herbalists medications i read about.

    Hummingbird, all MDs know disaster medicine to a great degree even though they may not be ER MDs. There is more to medicine than drug useage.

    1. dr tooth,

      almost all “current” medicines/medicines in current development are some version of the old fashioned herbal/medicine men/Chinese medicine, etc…

      ex Tamiflu … active ingredient from Star Anise..
      and so much more

      new antibiotics often come from the soil (yes, dirt),
      and indeed, there is an international research project now on, asking for folks fr around the world, to send in local soil samples to be tested..etc

      aspirin..well, we likely all know where that is from?


    2. It’s probably a moot point now, but I meant herbalists should be higher in the rankings, not of higher importance than doctors.

  15. These polls have been very interesting. And thought provoking. My coffee consumption has skyrocketed thinking about them.

    The one thing that comes to mind is that in the event of a economic collapse, war, whatever, the probability of places like Walgreens, CVS, or the Walmart Pharmacy being open is, I think, quite low. Which has me collecting information on creating ‘remedies’. Some of the ‘formulas’ I have read, and the components needed, seem to be along the lines of voodoo. More effort needed here.

    I do have a useful sized solar system which has had me thinking lately of why? Specifically if there is a decent EMP event, if there’s nothing to power, why have power? Motors might still be operational, but there’s going to be large number of things that won’t be. Hmmm…time to get some windmill parts? If I only lived near a waterfall. I do have lots of stuff ‘pulse protected’ so I’ll have a lot of toys to play with when things settle down.

    A couple of things I have obtained that might not have been thought of by some here is a sphygmomanometer (Blood pressure) and a non-battery thermometer. Most pharmacies have these and they generally are far less costly than the fancy electronic devices.

    Dr. Tooth: I agree, generally. But I have known American Indians that use herbal items and ‘cure’ fairly well. And have experienced asian medicines to a similar degree. Those are the ones I am looking for! Bat wings, spider legs, no…..I think not.

  16. Picked only 6,half of which was near the top and the rest middle down. I believe anyone seriously into a prepping lifestyle are more than capable to more than adequately accomplish the majority of these services on their own. Fact is, if you’re not capable or surrounded by capable people,,, well

  17. Sorry for not proof reading, but I hope you get my point. With all of the available information out there, if application is attempted, many people are way more capable then they might think. Prep, prep practice, and prep some more. It’s fulfilling and fun. Provides focus and much needed relief from the barrage of daily disheartening news.

  18. The problem with herbal medications is the dosage, in the ones that do have value.
    The Merck Pharmaceutical Manual published before, I believe, 1940, gave instructions of how to isolate the needed part from the plant. A therapeutic dose could then be given.
    Pharmaceutical compound levels vary greatly in the same type of plant.
    For example, considered Digitalis. It’s contained in Fox Glove. Make a tea of it.
    Is it a dosage that is to low to do anything?
    Just right?
    Or a fatal overdose?
    How would you know?
    An anecdotal article from Fake Science Monthly don’t cut it.

  19. Much of this body of knowledge would be found among those already living the lifestyle under primitive conditions. I am thinking of the Amish and others that are living life without many of our modern conveniences.

    If times were to get tough tomorrow, I would consult with like minded people already living the life for a generation or more. There is already a lot of info sharing on this site at present time. I have a feeling that it is other people who would be calling or visiting us if things were to go south. (us – meaning those who contribute to this site and are prepared to a greater or lesser degree already)

  20. I would think a highly sought after commodity would be protection. Not only in the for of a weapon but rather in the form of a person or group. In the event of a SHTF situation, most of the people will be lost. Even the most of the “tough” guys will be faced with reality. However the experienced survivor/socom guys will truly be either the sought after protectors or in some cases the predator(s).

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