A dwarf's labor preferences define the tasks/jobs that he or she is allowed to do, whether it is food hauling, mining, hunting, or any of dozens of other tasks. For instance, a dwarf with the wood cutting labor enabled will cut down trees whenever trees are designated to be cut.
To change a dwarf's labor preferences,iew the dwarf, then select references and abor.
The mining and wood cutting labors require the dwarf to pick up and wield a pick or battleaxe, respectively. For this reason, a dwarf cannot be assigned to both mining and woodcutting at the same time.
Note that a labor is not a job. A job is the actual task of doing something, while a labor preference is simply whether a dwarf is allowed do that sort of job or not. You can view a list of all current, queued, and suspended jobs on theobs menu. A list of what job each dwarf is currently performing is visible on the nits menu.
Once designated as a labor preference, a single skill can possibly be applied to many different jobs. For instance, a bone carver might carve a totem out of a skull, craft bone practice bolts for a crossbow, create bone armor, or carve bone crafts to trade. Each of these is a different possible job allowed by designating the associated labor.
Note that many labor preferences, especially hauling, have no associated skill, do not generate experience, and do not improve with practice.
 Default labors
All new arrivals at the fortress (including your initial seven dwarves) will have all the hauling jobs turned on by default, as well as several other labors if they have a specific profession. The additional default labors for each profession are:
(Note: this is slightly incomplete/out of date)
|All professions (including Peasant)|
 Labors and skills
Each labor may have several sub-skills associated with it, and may be needed to perform a variety of different tasks. The following is a list of labors, their associated skills, and where those tasks will be performed:
 Other professions
Soldiers (including those in the royal guard and fortress guard) will not work at all: they will either stand at their station (if on duty) or, if standing down, wander around a lot, usually spending a lot of time sparring in the barracks (if you have built any) or shooting at archery targets (if they are armed with a crossbow). Some soldiers will grow progressively unhappier if they remain on duty for too long.
On rare occasion, you may spot a soldier doing a "Store item in stockpile" task. This can occur after the soldier has taken a drink; if the barrel they drank from wasn't on the correct stockpile (or perhaps any stockpile), they will haul it to the appropriate stockpile before setting it down. Nobles and children will also haul barrels in this manner.
 Noble endeavors and child labor
Nobles and children cannot be assigned any labors, although there are a small number of jobs they will do. These jobs may be performed by any available dwarf (except soldiers), although nobles and children are usually idle, so they often do take them before other dwarves do:
- Harvest Plants (if you have "All Dwarves Harvest" set on the rders menu)
- Pull a Lever
- Move Item to Trade depot
- Move Item to Shop
- Confine animals to (or release them from) cages/restraints
- Clean Trap (when a weapon trap has a corpse stuck in it)
- Fill a Pond
- Remove Construction (walls, floors, stairs, etc.)
- Trade at Depot (if set to "all dwarves can trade")
Periodically enabling "All Dwarves Harvest" for a few seconds (if you normally keep it disabled) is a good way to put nobles to work, especially when you have a backlog of unharvested crops which are threatening to wither.
 Get back to work
 On Break
Often dwarves will not work at all. They must periodically sleep, eat, and drink, and will sometimes go "On Break". If you do not supply them with alcohol, they will go on break far more often.
 Attend Party
If you have built any statue gardens, meeting halls, or zoos, dwarves may occasionally "Attend Party" and meet with other partygoing dwarves in these rooms. Whether this is done in place of part of the "On Break" time is unknown. Regardless, a party can be ended by "free"-ing the room at the Set Building Tasks screen ( ); The dwarves are reset to "No Job" and resume work.
 No Job
If dwarves are listed as having "No Job", they may be "between jobs", and will start a new task within a few seconds, or they may be lacking the right labor preferences to perform any available task. Tasks themselves may be held up by various things, including:
- Job-related materials are unavailable or unreachable (this is usually announced)
- One or another material is set to be "ignored" on the rders screen
- A backlog of unperformed hauling tasks, causing all items to be inaccessible
- All relevant jobs being in "suspended" status; suspended jobs must always be restarted manually
If a dwarf is reported as having no job in an otherwise busy fortress, it may be stuck somewhere (for example, behind a floodgate or washed down the river).
 Other non-productive tasks
Dwarves will also periodically do a variety of other less than productive tasks.
- Prior to the Dwarven Economy, "Check Chest" jobs are generated when there is a container or cabinet installed in an unassigned room.
- "Pickup Equipment" is tasked whenever they are exchanging worn-out clothing for new items, have been assigned new weapons or armor (or weapons they previously were assigned finally become available) or need a pick or battle axe for mining and wood cutting jobs.
- "Store Owned Item" occurs when dwarves have both an object they own (such as coins or discarded shoes) and a room to store it in.
- "Go Shopping" occurs when a dwarf needs a new piece of clothing post economy. Sometimes they will also just feel like buying a new trinket. Requires a shop.
Very Unhappy or Miserable dwarves will often tantrum.
 Rest (from injury)
Severely injured dwarves (with 'red' or 'yellow' injuries) will usually go to their beds to "Rest", where they will stay until their wounds recover. However, if their wounds are causing them pain or otherwise preventing them from sleeping, they may show "No Job", or sometimes they will get out of bed and tantrum instead. Dwarves with the Health Care labor turned on will bring them water in a bucket to keep them from dehydrating and food to keep them from starvation.
 Other oddities
- Constructing roads (once designed) -- similar to building floodgates, there are no labor requirements for constructing these.
 Job Management
To see a list of all jobs and dwarves doing them press .
From either menu, if you want to order specific jobs to be done in bigger amounts, press. You can order up to 30 of single job from the manager screen.