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Simply surviving a catastrophe or collapse is not enough. You need to consider what happens after everything has fallen apart and starts coming back together again. You need to start considering how you will support yourself and your family if your job is no longer there and government benefits like food stamps or unemployment insurance disappear.
Even if civilization doesn’t collapse, we all know that jobs, investments, benefits, savings, and businesses can vanish in the blink of an eye in today’s economy. Almost anybody can be left with no salary or no income at almost any time. You need to consider the terrible scenario: What do I do if I get up tomorrow and my job is gone and I cannot find another one?
There is a solution to this problem that many preppers may fail to consider: have marketable skills that you can sell or barter. Think of it this way: skills are something that the government cannot seize and creditors cannot garnish. Nor can skills be destroyed by a disaster or stolen by thieves.
Having Marketable Skills Is Part of Preparation
Everybody that wants to survive must have useful skills that he or she can easily market. The reason for this is obvious: your survival food stockpile is going to run out sooner or later, and your garden can only provide some of your needs.
What happens when somebody gets a toothache, somebody gets hurt or sick, or something that you don’t know how to fix breaks down? What then? Clearly you’ll have to go out and seek help, and you’ll probably have to pay for that help. How will you pay for it if money is worthless or you don’t have any? Eventually there will be something you’ll need to trade or barter for. If it isn’t skilled services, it might be fuel or ammunition or spare parts. What will you trade or barter? The best answer is a skill or service that will be in demand.
Even after civilization collapses, people will still want and need to get their hair cut, teeth pulled, engines fixed, guns repaired, and houses painted. If you can do those things, you’ll be one step ahead of everybody else. You can trade your skills for things like food, water, medicine, fuel, ammunition, and other kinds of skilled labor.
Determine What Marketable Skills You Have
The first step is to figure out what marketable skills you have. Think back on your life and think about your jobs, your hobbies, military training, the classes you took in school, and the experiences that you have had. Then ask yourself: Are any of those marketable skills that I can use to survive?
Some examples of marketable skills include:
- Cutting hair and hair styling
- Cooking or baking
- Paramedic training
- Physician’s assistant training
- Machine shop training
- Pet grooming
- Auto repair
- Bicycle repair (This will be in high demand if there’s a major fuel shortage)
- Gun repair/gunsmithing
- Heating and air conditioning repair
- Operating heavy equipment of any sort
- Truck driving
- Boat repair and maintenance
- Bar tending
- Law enforcement
- Military skills
- Aircraft mechanic
- Computer programming
- Software writing
- Electronics repair
- Diesel mechanic
- Firearms instruction
- Martial arts instruction
- Stonemasonry/cement work
As you can see, the list is virtually endless, and you might have some skills that fall somewhere on it. Ask everybody in your household what skills they have and how much experience they have.
If you don’t think you have any marketable skills, then try and get some. Something to remember is that your bachelor’s or master’s degree in marketing or history probably isn’t going to be very good in a survival situation. Many people with college degrees are waiting tables and driving trucks right now because their education is useless.
Acquiring Marketable Skills
It’s not too late to start acquiring marketable skills. The easiest skills to acquire or learn are those that you are most interested in. One way to do this is to go back to school.
Check out local trade and technical schools and see if they have courses that offer some marketable skills. If you’ve always wanted to learn something like welding or baking, take a class in it. Remember, knowledge is the most important survival tool there is; it is the one thing they cannot take from you.
Try getting additional skills education through your job. See if your employer will pay for additional courses or training to upgrade current skills. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement, which can help pay for something like a nursing degree or a paramedic’s degree.
Another way to acquire marketable skills is through work. If you take a part time job, get one in a restaurant or in construction. Working in a restaurant or commercial kitchen is a great way to improve your cooking skills. Work at a construction site can help you familiarize yourself with tools and techniques.
Hobbies are another great way to learn; gardening, do it yourself projects, and repair of bicycles or classic cars can help you get valuable skills. Try finding hobbies that help you learn new skills or improve existing ones. Remember, if you enjoy it, you’ll be more likely to concentrate on it and actually learn it.
What Skills Should You Acquire?
There are two big criteria that you should use when you go out looking for a marketable skill. The first question should be is it something that I enjoy and am interested in? If the answer is no, you won’t invest enough to truly learn it. Ideally the skill should be something that you’re passionate about.
The second criteria should be is it something that I can market right now? Can I find a job doing it, start a business using the skills, or work as a freelancer in the field if there is no work in my career? Driving a truck or working in a kitchen might not be as rewarding as using your college degree, but it sure beats standing in line at the food bank.
Try to acquire at least one skill you can use in today’s economy in addition to survival skills. An example of such a skill can be a technical skill such as software writing, which you can sell on a freelance basis. Another might be heavy equipment operating, hairstyling, or truck driving commercial trucks. That way you’ll have the ability to earn a living in any situation.
Not acquiring additional marketable skills is the biggest mistake most preppers are making right now. Stockpiling food and learning how to shoot can help with immediate survival, but it isn’t going to help you survive long term. To do that you’ll need to have some sort of marketable skill.