Guide to Skills in The Sims 3
How To's, Skill List by Expansion, and Links to In-Depth Guides
This Sims 3 Guide was originally written for the PC and Mac versions of the game, but some Skill information will help owners of the console versions - PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii. Please remember some info or numbers may have changed between versions and that the console version of The Sims 3 includes less than half the number of Skills in the PC version with all Expansion Packs installed.
In this guide to all skills in The Sims 3, you'll learn about the skills your Sims can learn in the game and all eleven Expansion Packs, from World Adventures to the last EP, Into the Future. In each in-depth Strategy Guide, I'll provide answers to questions players frequently ask, such as how to learn each skill through classes, skill books, or usage and how to improve them efficiently while making progress on Skill Challenges on your way to level 10. I'll also provide links to get detailed information about each skill, so that you can learn more about the abilities that interest you. While there aren't cheats to raise skills directly in the Sims 3, there are commands that you can use to cheat that help raise skills.
Skills - Leveling and Other Information
How many skills can you learn in the Sims 3?
With all eleven Expansion Packs installed, there are a total of 28 Skills that have a Skill Journal, along with numerous Hidden Skills that do not play a major role in gameplay and often give you no way of making money or count toward Job Performance in Careers.
Collecting is also listed here, because it's a bit like a skill as your Sim will progress. It has its own special Collecting Journal that can be accessed through the Sim's Inventory. This will keep track of what items you've Collected in the game and the challenges associated with it. To learn more and see the types of things you can collect, see the Collecting Guide.
Skills Tab & Learning New Skills
Go to the Skills tab to see a list of Skills your Sim has learned. In order to begin learning a skill and unlock its features, you must first gain a level in that skill. It will not appear in the Skill Journal or Skill panel until you have attained level 1. One common way is to either read a skill book (some skills) or take a class (most skills). Using objects that raise that skill will eventually get you the first level.
The Skill Journal
Press your 'J' key to open the Skill Journal. From there, you can see your Sim's progress in Skill levels, along with statistics such as how many fish your Sim has caught with Fishing, or the earnings you've made while Writing. Skills will not appear in the Skill Journal until you have gained level 1.
The Skill Journal will also show you Skill Challenges which are achievements Sims can make to supermax a Skill and become even better than a Sim who has simply reached level 10. There are at least 2 or 3 for every skill, so learning all Skills and completing the Skill Challenges to earn their bonuses would take a lot of time on a single sim, and be impossible without doing something to stop aging.
Sims can learn skills by performing associated actions, using objects that are designed for use by that Skill. Some are very straightforward, such as preparing meals improving the cooking skill. All skills have multiple ways they can be raised. One method of learning common to most skills is to take a class at the appropriate building.
Some actions require the skill to be already learned (level 1) before they'll start adding progress toward skill levels. For example, watching cookin' cable won't teach your Sim anything unless they already know the cooking skill. There is a similar effect for picking wild fruits and vegetables and the gardening skill and talking to Sims for the Charisma skill.
Self-Employment Skills and Making Money
Most Money-Making Skills will allow you to Register as Self-Employed at City Hall to get some bonuses when earning money with that Skill, which provides some additional reward for your efforts and may even boost the profit you receive from the Skill. This is a smart move - from Painting to Writing, it is highly recommended you visit and register. Look to the Money Making Guide to learn more about ways you can make money with Skills and other methods in The Sims 3.
Skills - Where to Take a Class?
Taking a class in a skill will give it a boost and quickly get you to level 1. Learning a skill initially, that is, going from level 0 to level 1 takes much longer than all the other early levels. If you take a class, you can avoid this problem because the class will add the skill to your learned skills list within a few hours. Taking classes later offers less benefit, especially once past level five. It makes sense, at some point your Sim should be teaching a class.
Classes usually cost $400 but this can be discounted occasionally. Look for discount Skill classes in the newspaper daily if you're a penny pincher. Thankfully, most skills offer you a way to earn that money back or contribute to your performance in a Career so that you will be able to easier get that job promotion for your Sim.
Class Building List
To find classes, go to the map view and look to the buildings with red icons - these are rabbit holes that your Sim will enter, and inside cannot be seen. Not all of the buildings in town offer classes and skill classes are only available during the daytime, starting at 6am. I'll be very general about the type of building, as it is the same for Riverview, Sunset Valley, and other Sims 3 Worlds. If the building type you need is not present in your World, go to Edit Town and place it. This will also let you use features from Expansion Packs that EA did not add to previous game worlds.
- Advanced Technology Class - Observatory in the Future (Space Training Class $500)
- Alchemy Class - Vault of Antiquity
- Athletics Class - Stadium
- Bass, Drums, and Piano Classes - Theater
- Bot Building Class - Bot Arena in the Future
- Charisma Class - Government Building
- Cooking Class - Restaurant
- Fishing Class - Grocery Store
- Gardening Class - Science Facility
- Guitar Class - Theater
- Handiness Class - Military Base
- Inventing Class - Science Facility
- Laser Rhythm-a-Con Class - Theater
- Logic Class - Science Facility
- Martial Arts Class - No Class. Hit Training Dummies. Buy one or visit Shang Simla.
- Mixology Class - Bistro
- Nectar Making Class - None - read Skill Books in Champs Le Sims or start making Nectar.
- Painting Class - University
- Photography Class - None. Read Skill books in Al Simhara - photos are valuable the first time and its best to have a high level before you start Photo Collections.
- Riding/Horse Racing Class - Equestrian Center
- Science Class - Science Facility
- Scuba Diving Class - Science Facility
- Sculpting Class - None. Just start Sculpting!
- Social Networking Class - Business Building
- Street Art Class - School of Art at University
- Writing Class - Business Building
How can my Sim Learn Skills Faster?
There are several ways for Sims to learn skills faster. Each skill has one or more traits associated with it that will boost the rate it is learned. You can find that information on the individual Skill Guides. The Sims whose traits are built around a particular skill and specialize in it will be the most successful. So, long after learning the skill they'll still be seeing benefits. For example, virtuosos (guitar) will get better tips and green thumbs (gardening) will harvest higher quality produce.
Mood will also increase the rate your Sims learn skills. Being in a good mood lets your Sim focus on the task at hand with a postive attitude. They'll get better at skills a good deal faster, especially in combination with having the right traits.
Studying at the library will also help your Sim to learn a Skill faster, much better than reading a book at home. Cooking, Gardening, Handiness, Logic, and Charisma and many other Skills, depending on the Expansions you've installed, can be learned at the library. The quiet environment increases the rate your Sim will learn there. The athletic skill will increase fastest when using the equipment at the gym, because of the "fit atmosphere" moodlet your Sim receives while visiting the lot.
Big Boosts to Skill Experience Gains
A Sim who is a Vampire, either turned or born that way, will always skill faster than non-Vampire Sims. All Sims 3 owners have access to the Fast Learner Lifetime Reward, as well. At a cost of 15,000 Lifetime Happiness Points, Fast Learner boosts the learning rate for all skills. It's a great reward for multi-talented Sims and those in Careers with high skill level requirements for advancement.
Miscellaneous Skill Gain Boosters
China features two ways to get your Sims skilling faster. The Honorary Incense Holder of Jun Pao that can be bought from the General Store will improve skill gains at home by a whopping 25% while in the room with the burning incense. You can tell it's working by the Neurotic Synergy moodlet you'll receive. The second skill boost from China is found in The Scholar's Garden, which gives a moodlet similar to the incense. So, it's a good place to read a book or meditate to raise Martial Arts. Simmers with the Late Night Expansion will find a boost using the Alien Brain drink available from Mixology.
Simmers who own The Sims 3 Into the Future will find that they can use the Dream Pod to help them become better at learning a number of skills. Click the link to learn about all the Dreams you can give to a Sim and how they'll impact you if they have a good dream. Assembling the Voltron Gnome will boost skill gains by 75% when around the Gnome, but it must be assembled from 5 parts.
List of Skills in The Sims 3
The following is a list of all Skills you will have access to if you have installed all eleven Expansion Packs for The Sims 3. If it does not have an Expansion Icon next to it, it's found in The Sims 3 Base Game. Expansion Icons indicate what EP you need to have installed in order to use that Skill. Follow the links for in-depth information on learning that skill and how you can best use it to earn money for your Sim's family.
The Advanced Technology Skill governs your Sim's usage of the new technology and gadgets that come with The Sims 3 Into the Future Expansion Pack. This will affect your Sim's ability to fly around via Jet Pack, use the Dream Pod to get more Dreams, gain Holo Disc Sprites, and even learn to reset the Time Continuum to return Future Oasis Landing back to its original state.
Alchemy comes with The Sims 3 Supernatural. This ancient science allows your Sim to create Elixirs to aid themselves and others. Naturally, it has its darker side allowing Sims to bestow loads of nasty effects on others.
Athletics allows Sims to achieve greater fitness levels. Includes information on the types of wishes and opportunities your Sims will get from this skill, along with tips to raising it. Provides tips to completing each athletics challenge, as well.
Bass, Drums, and Piano
These three new musical instruments come with the Late Night expansion. Combined with the original Guitar skill, Sims can now form a band, play gigs, practice together, and earn money playing at night clubs.
Bot Making allows your Sim to build Plumbots, a new type of Life State in The Sims 3 Into the Future Expansion. Your Sim will also be able to create Nanites, a new type of Collectible, which are used to create Trait Chips to customize a Plumbot's behavior and functionality. Higher levels allow you to give a Plumbot Sentience, making it more like a normal Sim.
Charisma will help your Sim to make friends. With the right challenges completed, it can even help them to keep friends forever. Teach your Sims the charisma skill if you want them to be better at jobs that require on the boss and co-worker relationships. It's also vital to politicians. This guide contains tips to completing all charisma challenges, as well as information to help players get past the friend requirements of each charisma level.
Collecting in the Sims 3 gives your Sims an easy way to make money without ever taking a job or buying a single item. Sims can collect butterflies, beetles, metal ore, gems and space rocks. This is a perfectly viable way to make money in the Sims 3, and shouldn't be overlooked by players who want to diverge from the norm.
A guide to Perfect Cooking in the Sims 3. Includes tips for getting started and info on how to get recipes like Ambrosia without paying for them at the book store. This guide provides tips and lists the upgrades, types of items for the home, and traits you can select for your Sims to help them excel at cooking.
This guide focuses on fishing in the game and includes information on where, and how, to catch some of the most rare fish in the Sims 3. This is a new feature to the game, and I'm really glad they added it. It's an excellent way to make money, and a good excuse to frequently look at the Sims 3's excellent water graphics! Fishing is a highly valuable skill to gardeners, scientists and Sims who want to make a profession of the trade.
I wrote this guide to teach people how to get started gardening. I had seen this question asked so many times in forums and on yahoo answers that I had to sink my teeth in and give my own take on the skill. Gardening is a crucial skill for many character types. High quality fruits and vegetables can be used to catch better fish, which in turn help gardening itself (fertilizer), and cooking.
I love this character! The guitar playing Sim can lead a very nice life playing for tips and making friends. It's almost too easy! Unfortunately, although an entertaining Sim to play, the guitarist makes fairly chaotic money compared to other Sims.
The Handiness skill is so very useful to every Sim. I really enjoyed making this guide, which lists all the upgrades in the Sims 3, along with info on how to raise the skill quickly. Almost everything my ultra-rich Sim does is somehow augmented by the handiness skill.
Inventing is one of two skills that come with the Ambitions expansion. This skill is quite fun and allows you to make gadgets, toys, and widgets for use at home. Inventors can dig for treasure with the miner and time travel with their very own time machine, as well. The harvester can be used for collecting and gardening. Snag your Sim some futuristic clothes or make their own Simbot. Top it all off with some good money making potential and Inventing is one of the coolest additions from Ambitions.
The Laser Rhythm-a-Con is a new, futuristic Musical Instrument for Sims to play for fun and earn tips. It is quite a pretty object to see in action, as Sims will use the multi-colored laser beams to produce melodies that gradually improve as the Sim makes skill progress.
Logic can be used to teach other Sims known skills, help you make money by discovering celestial bodies, and even earn cash with your mind by solving the unsolvable. Your Sims can make enough money to live and have nice things using only a telescope with this skill! It's a very useful skill for Parents and Friends, who want to help those around them become better.
Martial Arts is my favorite new skill introduced by World Adventures. Sims can really learn to kick serious butt. Be it beating down other Sims, burglars or mummies while tomb raiding, this skill will make your Sim a fighting machine. Look to this guide for tips on raising the skill, winning tournaments and mastering zeneport and tranquil transference you gain from meditation. You'll be able to zip here and there in the blink of an eye once you've completed the martial arts skill's challenges.
Mixology is a skill new to the Late Night expansion. This is the art of making mixed drinks -- with flair. Spin cups through the air and blow fire off a drink to impress your Sim's celebrity clientele. Many drinks give boosts, such as faster skills, or better romantic interactions!
Nectar Making is another new skill added to the game by the World Adventures expansion pack. This is one of the most involved skills in the Sims 3, and requires experience in gardening to really flourish. This is a great addition to any household as nectar provides a powerful boost to mood that lasts a very long time. Take up this skill and learn some amazing and good recipe combos on this page.
Help your Sim become a legendary artist. The Painting skill will help your Sim to later become a master artist. There's a lot of money to be made this way by painting volumes of masterpieces, for those who choose to follow this path. Provides tips you can use to help your Sims paint more masterpieces and complete the challenges associated with painting.
The Photography Skill is one that every Sim can pursue. It requires the World Adventures expansion to learn to take photos. As you get better, this skill becomes an excellent way to make money while you pursue other things. Wait for great photographic moments and snap a great shot to earn some spare cash in the blink of an eye. Learn the dynamics of this skill and how you can best utilize it to keep from losing money.
Racing, Riding, and Jumping
This guide covers the new Racing, Riding, and Jumping skills in The Sims 3 Pets. Learn about these skills and how they combine to give you a new means of making money by breeding and racing horses.
Don't confuse The Sims 3's Science Skill, included with University Life, with the Science Career Track. This new Skill lets Sims take Samples of many Collectibles and clone them at the Research Station. You may also easily turn your Sim into a PlantSim with this skill and use the Group Science Project to create a meteor shower of loot around the device to make some Simoleons.
Learn the Scuba Diving Skill to explore the waters around Isla Paradiso in The Sims 3 Island Paradise Expansion Pack. You can find many fish, treasure chests, and map fragments from messages in bottles. This is a beautiful skill to level, because of the great undersea views you'll get when diving beneath the surface of the ocean.
With Sculpting, Ambitions players can craft their very own statues from clay, metal, ice, stone, and even bushes to make topiaries. You're not limited to the realm of art. Sims can also make bathroom stuff, furniture, and all sorts of neat stuff. A good money maker itself, it also goes well with the Architecture career that was also brought with the expansion.
The Social Networking Skill lets your Sim use the updated Phone that comes with University Life to become a blogger. You can earn money simply posting things to your Sim's blog, and may choose from several kinds of blog to run. If a blog becomes really successful, you can sell it to make some major Simoleons.
Street Art will let your Sim make money from vandalism - well, once they have learned to make Street Art that is beautiful enough to be worth something to the local government. It's not a big money-maker, but it will let you go about the town and place permanent paintings. If commissioned by the local government at City Hall, your Sim can earn $1,000 Simoleons for their next Street Art project.
You can make a ton of money as a writer in the Sims 3. It's certainly one of the more interesting self-employment careers your Sims can pursue. In this guide, I list the best traits for a writer, what to do to write more effectively and how to best achieve the specialist challenge. Gives hints to pushing your royalty checks through the roof.
Now that I'm covering The Sims 4 I miss the depth of The Sims 3's skills system. Its 23 skills completely eclipse the new game's 30+ skills, because of all the neat ability unlocks you get, the interactivity and uniqueness. Even something so simple as cooking or handiness is somehow done better here, let alone much more complex skills like Gardening. Skills were simplified to a degree and it's a frustrating change, though Sims 4 has other strengths.