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This article is about an older version of DF.

A dwarf's labor preferences define the tasks that he or she will do, whether it is hauling, mining, farming, hunting, craftsworking, erecting buildings, 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, view the dwarf, then select preferences and labor.

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 the job or not. You can view a list of all current, queued, and suspended jobs on the jobs menu. A list of what job each dwarf is currently performing is visible on the units menu.

Default labors[edit]

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:

Profession Labors

Labors and skills[edit]

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:

Profession Labor Associated skills Associated buildings
Miner Mining Miner
- Wood cutting Wood cutter
Carpenter Carpentry Carpenter
Mason Masonry Mason
Mason Stone detailing Engraver
  • designated walls or floors
Trapper Animal training Animal trainer
Trapper Animal care Animal caretaker
  • any wounded tame animal
- Health care -
  • any wounded dwarf
Fisherdwarf Fish cleaning Fish dissector
Fish cleaner
Farmer Butchery Butcher
Craftsdwarf Leatherworking Leatherworker
Farmer Tanning Tanner
Farmer Farming (fields) Grower
Fisherdwarf Fishing Fisherdwarf
  • any river/pond
Farmer Dyeing Dyer
Farmer Alchemy Alchemist
Metalsmith Furnace operating Furnace operator
Farmer Wood burning Wood burner
Farmer Ashery operating Lye maker
Potash maker
Metalsmith Metalsmithing Weaponsmith
Metal crafter
Jeweler Jeweling Gem cutter
Craftsdwarf Craftsworking Bone carver
Stone crafter
Wood crafter
Craftsdwarf Glassmaking Glassmaker
Carpenter Siege engineering Engineer
- Siege operating Operator
Mechanic Mechanics Mechanic
Carpenter Crossbow-making Bowyer
Craftsdwarf Weaving Weaver
Craftsdwarf Clothesmaking Clothes maker
Farmer Milling Miller
Trapper Hunting Ambusher
  • outdoors
weapon skill
Farmer Brewing Brewer
Farmer Plant gathering Herbalist
Farmer Farming (workshop) Thresher
Cheese maker
Farmer Cooking Cook
Trapper Trapping Trapper
  • outdoors or indoors
Animal dissector
- Stone hauling -
- Wood hauling -
- Item hauling -
- Burial -
- Food hauling -
- Refuse hauling -
- Furniture hauling -
- Animal hauling -
- Cleaning -
  • blood/ichor/vomit
- Architecture Building designer
Craftsdwarf Adamantine extraction Adamantine extractor
- Adamantine working Adamantine weaver
Adamantine smelter
Metalsmith Adamantine worker

Other professions[edit]


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). Soldiers will grow progressively unhappier if they remain on duty for too long.

Noble endeavors and child labor[edit]

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:

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[edit]

On Break[edit]

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[edit]

If you have built any sculpture 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 being "On Break" is not known. Regardless, a party can be ended by "free"-ing the room at the Set Building Tasks screen ("q"); The dwarves are reset to "No Job" and resume work.

No Job[edit]

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 orders 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[edit]

Dwarves will also periodically do a variety of other less than productive tasks.

  • "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 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.

Strange mood[edit]

Dwarves may spontaneously go into strange moods. Dwarves may become Melancholy, Berserk, or Insane. This is usually the outcome of a "failed" strange mood, and is never curable.


Very Unhappy or Miserable dwarves will often tantrum. This can be caused by the destruction of one of a dwarf's masterpieces.

Rest (from injury)[edit]

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.