Get your experience before it's necessary for your own survival
The 10 skills, or skill areas, listed below represent a range of experiences. There really is no way anyone could be an expert in all of them, but it can be very helpful to have some exposure to them. If this exposure can be gained under a controlled situation before societal collapse you will be better prepared for what may be required of you.
If a group of people that trust one another and can work together, different people can focus on different areas. Unfortunately, for a while at least, right after a societal collapse the opportunity wont exist to really be specialized, but after some time groups will band together and people will be able to focus on certain skills.
- Food processor
Nearly any skill that was required to survive 150 years ago will come in handy. Throw in some modern-day knowledge and experience and you could survive very comfortably.
Credit: Allen Stoner1. Farm/Garden - this is an easy one to get some experience with before societal collapse and will also enable you to eat much healthier than you otherwise would. Start by planting a vegetable garden. Focus on heirloom and open pollinated plants that you can save the seeds from for the following year. This way you aren't dependent on seed availability. If you select just the best plants to save the seeds from you'll also develop a strain of that plant that is ideally suited for your garden.
As for keeping animals, hatch a couple chickens in a chicken incubator. Chickens are easy to keep and will also give you wonderfully fresh eggs. Learn to butcher the extra roosters and you'll also have fresh meat, to say nothing about gain another valuable skill. Chickens are also nice in that when one is butchered it can all be utilized at one time without the need to preserve a large amount of it. This is ideal in a situation where electricity may not be available or spotty at best.
Pushing either gardening or animal husbandry up to the scale of farming may not really be necessary, even after a societal collapse. If you have the experience you potentially could if you need or decide to, but if the garden and some chickens keep you and your family supplied that may be all you need.
2. Medical - in the event of societal collapse, quick easy access to medical attention may not be as readily available as it is right now. Few people are going to be able to go through full medical doctor training, but there are lots of basic first aid training opportunities available. Maybe you can volunteer for the local fire department or ambulance, they are always in need of more volunteers. Nursing and mid-wife skills will also be very useful.
Try to be aware of homeopathic methodics of medical care since many medicines may be difficult if not impossible to obtain. Learn some herbal remedies and what native plants in your area have medicinal value.
3. Metalworking - this would include welding, blacksmithing, foundry, even some gunsmithing. Things wont be as easy to replace in the event of societal collapse so people will need to be getting things repaired. There are lots of things inside the house and outside. Kitchen utensils and pots and pans would be in demand in the house. And outside the work could be almost endless, most farm implements and garden tools can be made out of metal and they will need periodic repairs.Having knowledge of gunsmithing has lots of potential of being necessary. If you can work on and repair guns there will probably be plenty of people willing to trade some food or other service for you to repair their gun.
4. Mechanic - at least for a while there is going to be a need for someone to keep vehicles running, while fuel is available. Being able to work on both gas and diesel engines would be advantageous. If parts become scare it will be valuable to be able to fit various parts from different vehicles together to keep at least one running. Even before societal collapse, junk yards hold lots of valuable parts. After societal collapse a junk yard will be as good or better than having gold mine.
5. Construction - and all the associated skills that go with it like plumbing and electrical work. Again, at least initially, this is going to be doing a lot of repair work. Some city-slicker drives a tractor through the side of the barn and it needs repaired (both the barn and the tractor). Doing woodworking with primitive tools will enable you to meet many furniture and other needs.
6. Veterinarian - this could be classified as a medical skill, but someone that can help a sick cow may well garner the undying gratitude of a family, to say nothing of maybe some fresh milk. House pets probably wont be a priority but a livestock guardian dog can be very valuable in protecting your herd, flock, gaggle, whatever from predators, both four-legged and two. If the dog gets sick you're going to want to be able to help it.
7. Barter - being able to scrounge up necessary things may not seem like a valuable skill, but it is. Even today, before societal collapse, isn't there someone that always seems to know where or who to see to get something? Having stuff to barter will also be important, although knowing who has what and what they'll take for can be almost as valuable. Almost a necessary prerequisite of being good at barter will be to have good people skills. Any of the people with the skills on this list will more than likely need someone that can find something for them.
8. Handyman - this is really a skill that encompasses all the others on the list, at least the ones that are more physical in nature. Knowledge of how to build or rewind an electric motor, for example, cuold be very useful.
Credit: Allen Stoner9. Food processor - just because you can grow a beautiful field of wheat doesn't mean you can turn it into bread. Learn how to mill the wheat into flour and then turn it into bread, and do it without electricity. As stated before, start to butcher your own chickens so you know how to do it when you haev to to it.
10. Security/defenses - if you can't defend what you have you may not have it long. If you aren't comfortable with this but have some of the other skills you may well be able to barter those skills with someone that has this skill. This may be voluntary or involuntary. You will want to have some degree of this or you wont be able to even strike a good bargain for the service.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, any skill that was needed 150 years ago will more than likely serve you well in the event of a societal collapse. And when you add knowledge of all we've learned in the past 150 years your existence may not need to be subsistance only.
One bonus skill for the list - know how to spin fiber into yarn then knit, crochet or weave it into clothe. People are still going to need clothes.