Skill Farming

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Skill extraction in progress (from Johnny Mnemonic)

Overview

Initial costs

M ISK Item

1.0

Infomorph Psychology skillbook

5.0

Accounting skillbook

0.1

Broker Relations skillbook

10.0

Crop skillbook

1.8

2 jump clones

+353.9

1 skill extractor

=371.9

Minimum total

368.0

2 pair +5 enhancers

+1,061.8

3 skill extractors

=1,801.7

Maximum total

Skill farming is a career in EVE Online that uses a character to train skills solely to extract and sell their skill points, creating a passive income stream.

Alpha clones

Skill farming for alpha clones is possible but pointless. 5.5M skill points are required to use a skill extractor, but alpha clones are limited to 5M free skill points. So, an alpha clone must consume a large skill injector in order to produce one. Alpha clones can only extract skills that require omega clone status (i.e., skills they can’t train in the first place), which limits their choice of a crop skill. The helpful skills are limited for alpha clones, reducing their efficiency at skill farming. Therefore, this article assumes omega clone status.

Investment

Initial costs will range from 371.9M to 1,801.7M ISK (mostly for skill extractors), which can be returned in 3.7 to 17.8 days. The only ongoing costs are for replacement extractors. The helpful skills require about 2.6M skill points, which can take 39.5 days or more to train (depending on your attribute settings and on which you have already trained). Most are common market trading skills. Some travel is necessary to install jump clones, distribute attribute enhancers, and exploit market trends. Skill farming monopolizes the skill queue on its account, but produces skill injectors which can be used by the other characters.

Return

After initial preparations are completed, skill farming has the potential to return 3,044.5M ISK every 30 days (or 4.2M ISK per hour) on an investment of 1 day of game time. An EVE account costs 500 PLEX for that time. At an exchange rate of 3.2M ISK per PLEX, that’s 1,580.1M ISK. Therefore, it’s possible to net 192.7% of the cost of that account with the skill points farmed by a single character. Deduct the cost of the account and profit would be 1,464.5M ISK = 2.0M ISK per hour = 92.7% of account cost. Skill farming with 2 characters on the same account simultaneously requires the purchase of a Multiple Pilot Training Certificate for 485 PLEX. 30-day profit from both characters would then be 2,976.3M ISK = 2.1M ISK per hour per character = 95.6% of account cost.

Potential Income.png

Preparation

Skill plan
* Remap P:17 M:17 W:27 I:17 C:21

Trade I
Trade II
Trade III
Trade IV
Trade V
Broker Relations I
Broker Relations II
Broker Relations III
Broker Relations IV
Broker Relations V
* Remap P:17 M:21 W:17 I:17 C:27
Accounting I
Accounting II
Accounting III
Accounting IV
Accounting V
* Remap P:17 M:17 W:21 I:17 C:27
Infomorph Psychology I
Infomorph Psychology II
Infomorph Psychology III
Infomorph Psychology IV
Infomorph Psychology V
* Remap P:17 M:21 W:17 I:27 C:17
Cybernetics I
Cybernetics II
Cybernetics III
Cybernetics IV
Cybernetics V

To develop your skill plan, begin with any required trading skills. Add Cybernetics to unlock enhancers and Infomorph Psychology for jump clones. The helpful skills are listed below; I suggest training all to level V.

You might also consider The Magic 14 and the skills necessary to fly an interceptor (or a similar slippery ship) to carry small cargos (like skill injectors) through risky areas. (And what areas in New Eden aren’t risky?) Skilled and fit to use the cloak trick, it can avoid most gate camps (though it will still be vulnerable to smart bombs and other area-of-effect weapons). I keep one with each of my jump clones.

Purchase and inject the necessary skillbooks (probably Accounting, Broker Relations, and Infomorph Psychology), either from the market or “on demand”. Then edit the skill plan. For example, you may find Trade V unnecessary. If so, delete those skills from the plan (and don’t bother purchasing and injecting the skillbooks you don't need). Copy the edited plan into your skill queue (using the menu button at the top left of the queue) and click “Start”. The EVE client will edit out the “* Remap” lines and the skills you’ve already trained.

Don’t remap yet. You’ll have to wait a year before you can remap again (unless you have bonus remaps available), and you may need to remap for your crop skill.


Helpful skills for skill farming
Italicized skills are included in starting skills

Category Skill Multi-

plier

Cost

(M ISK)

Alpha

Max

Primary

Attribute

Secondary

Attribute

Prerequisites Benefit
Neural Cybernetics

3

0.1

III

Intelligence Memory Science III Simplified, +1 enhancer point per level, i.e., level I unlocks +1 enhancers, etc.
Neural Infomorph Psychology

1

1.0

I

Charisma Willpower None +1 jump clone per level.
Trade Accounting

3

5.0

0

Charisma Memory Trade IV -11% sales tax per level.
Trade Broker Relations

2

0.1

II

Willpower Charisma Trade II -0.3% broker fee rate per level.
Trade Trade

1

0.0

III

Willpower Charisma None +4 open market orders per level.

Crop skill

Decide which skill you’ll train to harvest its skill points. Look for a skill your ‘farmer’ character will never use that requires at least 8 days to train (to generate the 0.5M skill points necessary to fill an extractor). There’s no maximum training time, but you’ll only be able to harvest its skill points after you’ve finished training the skill. So, if the skill requires 30 days to train, you can harvest every 30 days or more. The table at the end of this article lists some skills with long training times (>31 days to train all 5 levels). Select one that matches your desired harvest frequency and doesn’t require that you train too many prerequisites. Try starting with the Armor, Engineering, and Shields categories.

You can also farm a group of skills, which lets you harvest less frequently, but slightly complicates extracting and reloading your skill queue. If you do so, all skills in the group should have the same primary and secondary attributes for maximum efficiency.

As an example, for my crop skill I chose Capital Capacitor Emission Systems in the Engineering category. This character will never fly capital ships, the skillbook is inexpensive, and I only had to train 4 levels of Capacitor Emission Systems to meet its prerequisites. Their attributes match, so I can use my remap and enhancers early to accelerate training the prerequisites. Training time for all 5 levels of my crop skill is almost 40 days (256,000 base skill points x skill multiplier of 10 ÷ 64,800 maximum skill points per day = 39.5 days), so I only have to jump to my ‘market’ clone and harvest once a month or so. If I can’t log on for a couple of days, no worries. Moving that single skill into extractors is quick and easy, as is reloading my skill queue. In total, I invest maybe 1 day of game time per month to pay for my account!

Once you’ve trained the helpful skills, purchase and inject the necessary skillbooks for your chosen crop skill and its prerequisites. Train the prerequisites.

Market

Use your favorite market tool to select the preferred market you’ll use to sell your injectors. You’re looking for a market with a steady trade in them (volume >15 or so per month), good prices, and low taxes and fees. Likely this will be one of the trade hubs, but don’t discount the smaller markets, particularly in NPC nullsec. Find the market that offers the greatest potential profit margin by starting with the average buy price for a large skill injector at that market over the past year or so. (You’re in skill farming for the long haul, not to make a quick buck.) Subtract that market’s sales tax (5% at NPC markets, as low as 0.1% at a POS where you have good standing) and broker fee. The broker fee is charged when you place any market order. It starts at 5% but can be reduced by the Broker Relations skill, and by your standing with the market owner’s faction and corporation as detailed here.

Deduct the average sell price for a replacement extractor at that market, and the result is a good estimate of the average profit you can expect per large injector there. Repeat this calculation for 5 small injectors.

Look at sales volumes, too. Competition is good, and you don’t want to hold up your skill queue waiting for extractors to arrive. Your injectors aren’t earning anything if they’re sitting in escrow waiting for buyers.

As with any other commodity, it’s possible to find a corporation that will purchase some (or all!) of your injectors at a fixed price to guarantee their supply. You’ll probably have to give a little on the price, but you’ll have a definite buyer at a definite price at a secure location. With a little luck, you might also negotiate PLEX, a clone, or replacement extractors into the deal. However, the cautions in POSs apply. Start with your own corporation, other corporations in your alliance, and characters that regularly purchase quantities of injectors.

As an example, below is an excerpt from the spreadsheet I use for my market searches. Obviously, it’s incomplete and out of date, but it should give you an idea of how to conduct your own search. All prices and volumes were obtained using Evernus, though that software is no longer supported.

Injector Profit Margins.png

Clone bay

You’ll want to keep a jump clone at or near your preferred market to simplify transportation. If your market’s structure doesn’t have a clone bay, look for one at an NPC station in the same system. Carrying valuable cargo (even your enhancers) through any stargate in a hub system is asking for trouble; you may as well sprinkle a trail of PLEX behind you! Set instant dock and undock bookmarks at both your market and clone bay structures, and use them every time. That should be sufficient precaution to avoid all but the most determined of ganks.

While you’re there, buy your first set of extractors. To determine how many you’ll need, calculate the skill points you anticipate at your first harvest (256,000 base skill points times your crop skill’s multiplier). Divide by 500,000 (the number of skill points required to fill an extractor) and round down. If you buy them on the open market, expect to pay about 356.8M ISK each. Leave them at your preferred market, then install your ‘market’ jump clone. Consider leaving an equipped interceptor (or other appropriate ship) with your jump clone.

Enhancers

Enhancers return on investment

Plan on one attribute enhancer for your crop skill’s primary attribute and another for its secondary attribute. Enhancers with “Improved” in their name will give you the greatest benefit (+5 to that attribute’s points) at the greatest cost. Buy a pair for your ‘market’ clone, and another pair for each clone you may jump into while you’re training (to maintain maximum efficiency). They’ll cost up to 112M ISK each, depending on which you choose. Take them to each of your ‘farmer’ clones and plug them in. To protect your investment, these clones should spend 99% of their time safely docked at an NPC station, and rarely use a stargate. Certainly, you can use them for other station-based activities (I do Planetary Production with mine), just remember that they’re each flitting around with 200M ISK in their heads!

You might also consider advanced (or ‘pirate’) enhancers, which offer additional bonuses and effects at additional cost (starting at about twice the cost of simple enhancers). However, their bonuses tend to be modest (compared to +5 simple enhancers) and their additional effects are generally oriented toward PvP (which you shouldn’t be doing with your ‘farmer’ character). Calculating their net effect and value is beyond the scope of this article, but this forum post will help.

Cerebral accelerators are largely impractical for skill farming. Though their attribute bonuses are attractive, the duration of their effect is limited, they’re expensive, and supply is unpredictable. If you have one, by all means use it, but don’t count on their benefits for the long term.


POSs

Using markets or clone bays at a player-owned structure (POS, as opposed to an NPC station) is one of those risk-versus-reward things that only you can decide. POS markets generally have lower sales volumes than NPC markets, so extractors might not be immediately available. You may have to discount your injectors to move them. How long can you afford to let 4,665.5M ISK worth of injectors gather dust? If you choose a POS that’s well-located, you might sell your injectors at a nearby trade hub instead, but that defeats the purpose of using a POS in the first place.

The benefits of the Broker Relations skill don’t apply at a POS, as detailed here. Jump clones might be considerably cheaper at a POS. Sometimes they’re even complimentary if you have good standing, but they’re a relatively small expense.

Consider that POSs are run by other players. Everything depends on your standing with them. That favorable tax rate, the free clone, even your docking privileges, can vanish overnight. The POS might be attacked, which has a chilling effect on its market. It might be destroyed in that attack, which means you lose your clone and everything else you had there. (Asset Safety may preserve most of your stuff, but recovering it without a clone nearby is a whole ’nother hassle!). Maybe the owner decides to decommission their POS, or quit the game entirely. Where does that leave you?

Investigating markets at POSs is a bit more difficult. You must travel to their system to determine what sales tax they charge. If you decide to go that route, try starting with the trade hub systems and their neighbors. Or work from another angle and use your market tool to see where injectors are selling well, then investigate those markets.

On the other hand, POSs sometimes offer tempting prices on injectors, so don’t discount them completely. A corporation that needs a steady supply of injectors out in Delve should be willing to pay handsomely for them!

You pay 5% at NPC markets for a reason: they’re more active, predictable, secure, and stable. But a 0.1% sales tax means you save almost 26M ISK per large injector (assuming you’ve trained Accounting V). Where’s the tipping point? Your call.

Alternate suppliers

Enhancers, extractors, and other necessities can also be purchased from Loyalty Point Stores, the New Eden Store, etc., rather than on the open market. Those suppliers will require some other form of currency (Loyalty Points, PLEX, etc.), but look into them. There are bargains to be had! For example, as of this writing the New Eden Store is selling extractors at 10 for 1,120 PLEX. At an exchange rate of 3.2M ISK per PLEX, that’s about 353.9M ISK per extractor. Market prices for extractors run about 356.8M ISK, so the New Eden Store saves me about 3M ISK each. Plus, if I buy them from the New Eden Store, I can redeem them in any structure. Even I can do that math!

If you intend to use your profits from skill farming to pay for your EVE account, you’ll also need an honest reliable source of reasonably-priced PLEX (because you can’t pay for your EVE account directly with ISK). As a currency, PLEX are a bit more secure (thanks to the PLEX vault), and anything you purchase with them from the New Eden Store can be redeemed at any structure by any character on the same account.

Note that you can’t pay for your EVE account with PLEX if you purchased that account through Steam or another third-party retailer. Those retailers accept only IRL currency. You can open another account directly with EVE, but you’ll be starting over as a noob.

Small injectors

By now you’ve noticed that there are both small and large skill injectors on the market. (Okay, there are also Daily Alpha Injectors, but those are the exclusive province of CCP Games and can't be produced by players.) What’s the difference? When you move 0.5M skill points into an extractor, it produces 1 large skill injector. That large injector can then be split into 5 small injectors by right-clicking it. But there’s no such thing as a small skill extractor. You can’t extract a small injector directly; it can only be produced by splitting a large injector.

The good news is that the split is 100% efficient and complementary: 1 large injector with 0.5M skill points produces 5 small injectors with 0.1M skill points each, and 5 small injectors can be re-combined into 1 large injector. The same diminishing returns apply to the end users of both small and large injectors (based on the user’s total skill points). Even their physical volumes correlate: a large injector occupies 0.01 m3 of space; each small injector occupies 0.002 m3.

So, do you split them or not? It all depends on the local market at the time. As you might guess, small injectors tend to sell better near the starting systems, while large injectors sell better in NPC nullsec. If you can earn a greater profit from small injectors, split them! If today’s hot market is in large injectors, don’t split them. Split some but not all if you like; whatever you do today has no effect on tomorrow’s injectors. Note that, as of this writing and except for a footnote, other pages on EVE University’s UniWiki don’t distinguish between small and large injectors, but discuss only large injectors.

Remap

Now that you’re ready to start training your crop skill, it’s time to do a neural remap of your attributes. Proceed carefully because you must wait a year before you can remap again (unless you have bonus remaps available). Set all attributes to their minimums (17 without enhancers), then set your crop skill’s primary attribute to its maximum (27 without enhancers), and its secondary attribute to the remainder (21 without enhancers). These attributes affect nothing in the game except training time, but in skill farming training time is profit!

Harvest

Jump into one of your ‘farmer’ clones, drag your crop skill into the skill queue 5 times (once for each level), and click “Start”. Note how long the queue will run and find something else to do for that time.

When the queue is empty, jump into your ‘market’ clone and dock at your market’s structure. Use the extractors you left there to extract your crop skill. (Note that you can’t move unallocated skill points directly into an extractor.) Drag your crop skill into the training queue again. You may not need all 5 levels this time, depending on how many skill points you trained and extracted. Apply any unallocated skill points, click “Start”, and note the time until your next harvest.

Pause to check things out. You’re in this clone for a day, may as well make use of the time. Decide if you’re going to split your injectors (see Small injectors) and how you’ll price them. Place your sell orders. Look for good buys on PLEX, extractors, and anything else you need. Do you have outstanding orders here that need attention? (I keep buy orders open at all my clone markets for PLEX, extractors, etc., at 80% of their average sell prices. If you can afford the escrow, it’s a good way to grab a bargain.) Done? Return to your clone bay and await the next harvest.

Ready for advanced skill farming? Install clones at as many different markets as your skills allow. At harvest, use your market tool to decide which will give you the greatest profit. Jump to that clone, then extract and sell there. Or extract a few large injectors here, sell them, then jump there and extract more to split and sell as small injectors. If you’re willing to travel a bit and sell to buy orders (or even contracts), you can throw your net wider still. Between harvests, keep an eye out for good prices on injectors; it’s always possible to have a partial harvest and take advantage of them. If you purchase your extractors from the New Eden Store, you can redeem them on any of your clones at any structure.

Budget

If the initial costs are an issue, start small. Buy extractors one at a time as you need them. Don’t buy enhancers until you’ve built up a bank. Hold off on buying your crop skillbook until you’re ready to train it. You can extract skill points from the starting skills or any other skill you’ve trained (with a few exceptions), so begin by training up some of those starting skills (such as Astrometric Rangefinding). When you’re over 5.5M skill points, extract what you don’t need, sell that injector, and invest in 3 extractors. The biggest initial expense will be that first extractor at about 356.8M ISK. Shop around, because if you can make it over that hump, EVE will never cost you a dime again!

References

Accounts. All about subscriptions, characters, and alts.

Broker fee and sales tax. Details the taxes and fees on your trades.

Evernus. Best EVE market tool since the change to ESI. Unfortunately, it’s no longer supported. But watch for the sequel, REvernus, scheduled to be released “soon”.

Implants. Feed your head.

Jester’s guide to implants and jump clones in 5 parts. Dated but still reasonably accurate, at least as far as game mechanics are concerned. Site also has several other useful guides to various aspects of EVE.

Skill trading. The mechanics of using extractors and injectors.

Skills and learning. The mechanics of skill training.

Starting skills. Lists skills provided to new characters, with links to descriptions of all EVE skills by category.

Trading. Buying and selling in New Eden.

Notes

M = million = Greek mu = x106. Numerical displays conform to the Wikipedia Manual of Style. All calculations were performed using the most accurate data available, then rounded for display. This spreadsheet contains all calculations, and may be used to run 'what-if' scenarios.

This information was correct and current at publication. But things change, so please verify it before relying on it. In particular, prices in New Eden change by the minute, sometimes drastically.

The page creator gratefully acknowledges Black Blondie of the Rancid Chickens for his invaluable assistance. If you’re considering Planetary Production as a career in EVE, he’ll get you started… honestly, even graciously.

All EVE links in this article allow you to create a new game account (either free or paid) using the page creator as your recruiter. This benefits us both as detailed here. However, that site is not compatible with MS Internet Explorer.

Please contact the page creator by EVE mail with any questions, corrections, suggestions, or other comments. Any and all errors are his, and his alone.

Source data

Best prices in New Eden during calendar 2019 according to Evernus, though that software is no longer supported.
Date Item Price (ISK)

1 May 2019

Small skill injector buy

239,996,741.98

4 May 2019

Large skill injector buy

1,023,998,961.99

22 Dec 2019

PLEX sell

3,160,101.00

22 Nov 2019

MPTC sell

1,306,017,000.00

22 Dec 2019

Skill extractor sell

356,811,213.00

4 Jun 2019

Limited Memory Augmentation sell

95,805.04

24 Aug 2019

Limited Memory Augmentation - Beta sell

402,999.69

3 Sep 2019

Memory Augmentation - Basic sell

7,285,110.00

27 Aug 2019

Memory Augmentation - Standard sell

16,166,672.99

27 Aug 2019

Memory Augmentation - Improved sell

92,005,000.04

Long skills

Long Skills.png

Last updated September 5, 2020.