Experience is a number which describes how much a dwarf has practiced a skill. As a dwarf uses a skill they slowly gain experience. After gaining sufficient experience the dwarf's skill level will advance and they will earn a new title describing their increased ability to use that skill. The effects of this experience gain vary from skill to skill -- For some skills the dwarf will complete their work faster, for others the dwarf will produce a higher quality product, and for a small number of skills the gain will have no effect.
 Experience earned per job
Most civilian skills give 30 XP per use, or more if the skill invoked processing a stack of items. Four exceptions to this rule are smoothing, carving fortifications, engraving and mining which each give only 10 XP per use. Military skills are variable, with more XP gained from real combat than from training.
 Reported Experience
In Adventure mode the game reports exact experience. However, in Dwarf mode a dwarf's exact amount of experience is never shown. To glean a general sense of how experienced a dwarf is compare the dwarf's title and skill level with the table below. The title and skill level are shown when viewing the dwarf, pressing g, and then either c, b, or m.
|| Dabbling *
|| Proficient **
|| Great †
|| High Master
|| Grand Master
|| Legendary+1 ‡
|| Legendary+2 ‡
|| Legendary+3 ‡
|| Legendary+4 ‡
|| Legendary+5 ‡
- * Dwarfs with no skill experience are referred to as "not (skill)" during embark. After embark, skills with 0 experience will not be displayed when viewing a dwarf. For the purposes of a strange mood skills with 0 experience are a lower level than Dabbling.
- ** This is the highest skill level possible for one of your starting dwarves.
- † Once soldiers reach this level in a weapon skill, they will become a hero and no longer complain about long patrol duty.
- ‡ These levels are not shown in game, but they do have an effect. An ordinary legendary dwarf produces a significant proportion of superior quality goods while a legendary+5 dwarf is guaranteed at least exceptional quality, barring effects like tiredness and hunger. After 31,600 experience the levels are unlabelled but continue to be displayed as Legendary. There appears to be no upper limit to experience levels.
 Loss of Experience
Experience can only be lost when a dwarf goes many months without using a skill, resulting in the skill becoming rusty. The initial stages of rust are reversible, but advanced stages result in permanent loss of experience.