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This article is about the current version of DF.
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"To get a job done, a dwarf has to do it." - Boss Urist McOverstates-the-obvious
V50 labor preview.png

Labor is how jobs get done in a fortress; which labors are restricted to a dwarf determines which jobs they can or can't do. The skill level and attributes of an individual determine how effectively they perform a job.

The game provides many flexible options to the player to allow or disallow certain actions of their dwarves, which can further add efficiency to a fortress. Visiting citizens can also perform some labors.

Introduction to labor[edit]

  • Your dwarves function as semi-autonomous entities, usually fulfilling their own basic needs, and sometimes performing jobs when able.
  • Most jobs correspond to a labor, which dwarves can be restricted from doing.
  • Labors can be restricted to specific dwarves in groups called work details.
  • Jobs, the specific tasks to be completed, are created in various ways, including designations, zones, workshop tasks, and manager work orders, and once created, an idle dwarf who does not have that labor disabled will be assigned the job.
  • As dwarves perform jobs, their skill in those areas increase. (The terms labor and skill are not synonyms. Skill is a measure of proficiency for a given labor, while a labor is the ability to do the work.)

Labor menu[edit]

The Labor menu tab is accessed with y or the fourth menu button at the bottom-left of the main interface. It contains four sub-tabs; Work details, Standing orders, Kitchen, and Stone use.

Work details[edit]

The Work details tab lists the current sets of labors and who is allowed to do them. The work details are listed on the left side of the screen, selecting one shows a list of all labor assignable citizens in your fortress on the right. Each line shows the citizen's name, profession, applicable skill levels for this detail, specialization button, assigned details, and finally a check mark for this selected work detail. Clicking the specialization button will toggle specialization for that citizen, but clicking any other part of the line will toggle this selected work detail for that citizen, even other work detail icons.

Above the list, each work detail has a setting controlling how it is assigned to citizens:

  • When "Only selected do this" is selected, the work detail will be assigned to any citizen with a check in the rightmost box on their line.
  • With "Everybody does this" selected, all citizens in the fortress will have permission to do the work detail's labors. (Any checked boxes will be white, showing that the citizen in question will do this job even if specialized).
  • When "Nobody does this" is selected, all citizens in the fortress will be banned from doing the work detail's labors. This does not override permission given by other works details. Any check marks/permissions set up before selecting "Nobody does this" will go red, showing that they are paused and they will be restored if you go back to "Only selected do this".

Labors associated with dwarf's occupation (such as being a Doctor) are always allowed.

Additionally, each citizen has the option to be specialized, this is shown by the hammer and lock icon just to the right of their name (It can also be viewed and interacted with from the u Citizens menu). When this setting is on (icon is red Labor specialized.png), the citizen will only accept tasks given by workshops/occupations they are assigned to and labors which have been assigned to them and are not restricted to "Nobody does this".

Here are all the possibilities:

A dwarf can take a job if any of the Yes conditions below are satisfied:
Specialized Labor specialized.png Unspecialized Labor unspecialized.png
UI add worker.png The dwarf is assigned to the workshop or lever giving this job. Yes No, unless a Yes applies
UI add worker.png The dwarf is assigned to the occupation giving this job. Yes Yes
The dwarf is selected under any work detail containing this job set to:

Interface white check.png "Everybody does this" OR

Interface green check.png "Only selected do this"

Yes Yes
No work detail contains this job OR

the dwarf is unselected under any work detail containing this job set to Interface empty check.png "Everybody does this"

No, unless a Yes applies Yes

Default work details[edit]

By default, the work details, and the labors associated with them, are as follows[1]

Plant gatherers

† The Mining, Woodcutting, and Hunting labors are only accessible from these default work details.

Custom work details[edit]


If you would like more control or information for labor assignments, Dwarf Therapist and/or DFHack can help, when available.

Additional work details can be defined. Click "Add new work detail", select which labors will be associated with it, and then click done. You can then rename the new work detail.

There is currently no way to choose the work detail's icon, so you are stuck with what the game chooses. The roman numerals are in the file Dwarf Fortress\data\vanilla\vanilla_interface\graphics\images\interface_bits_labor.png and can be changed, but will still be used in order.

Standing orders[edit]

Main article: Standing orders


This tab lists all item types currently within the fortress that can be used for either cooking or brewing. It is separated into four tabs:

  • Vegetables, fruit, and leaves
  • Seeds
  • Drinks
  • Meat, fish, and others.

On each tab, the items are listed in the left most column (Ingredient Type). The second column (Number) lists the number of each ingredient currently possessed. The last column (Permissions) is subdivided into two additional columns, cooking and brewing. This is the most important part, as it shows you whether dwarves are currently allowed to use the ingredient for the given task. Possible values are:

  • Cook disabled icon.png or Brew disabled icon.png (+C or +B in ASCII mode) - This item could be used for the task, but is currently disallowed.
  • Cook enabled icon.png or Brew enabled icon.png (+C or -B in ASCII mode) - This item is enabled for use in the task, and dwarves have permission to do so.
  • Cook unused icon.png or Brew unused icon.png (XC or XB in ASCII mode) - This indicates that the given item cannot be used in this way. For example, Deer meat cannot be brewed (Any alcohol can be cooked).

Note that when a new food is obtained, the default is Cook enabled icon.png and Brew enabled icon.png (XC or XB). This includes recently butchered animals, foodstuffs gained from trading, first crops from seeds, and plants gathered from the wild. Item types for which all items have been designated as forbidden will not be listed on this menu.

Cooking permission is also used/needed for cheesemaking from milk items[Verify]

Stone use[edit]

The stone use tab is separated into two tabs, Economic Stone and Other Stone. Economic Stone lists all economic stone (stones that have a value and purpose besides masonry) that can exist in the game. As an example, chalk can be used in the process of creating steel. Other Stone lists all non-economic stone.

Both tabs allows you to control what stone is used for menial purposes (masonry, building construction, walls, etc.). By default all economic stone, except layer stones present on the map, is disallowed and all other stone is allowed.

The Economic Stone tab also provides a full list of each economic stone's uses and if it is magma-safe or not.

Tool requirements[edit]

For a few specific jobs, a matching tool is also required for a dwarf to obey the job assignment. Any active miner needs a pick, any active wood cutter needs a battle axe, and any active hunter needs a crossbow (with quiver and bolts). If a labor needs a tool, the labor is considered exclusive such that you can only assign one of the three labors listed to any single dwarf at any one time.

This means that a dwarf cannot be, for instance, a Miner and a Hunter simultaneously, since both labors require a tool. If a dwarf is assigned a tool-labor and another tool-labor was previously assigned to said dwarf, the (old) tool-labor is automatically and silently unassigned, and that tool is immediately dropped where they stand at the time.

Additionally, the assignment of these tools overrides any uniform assigned to a dwarf's squad, so military dwarves should never be assigned any of the aforementioned labors.

To be used, a tool cannot be forbidden, nor in possession of another dwarf (even one that does not currently have a job), and a path must be available from the dwarf to that type of tool. If a tool is not available, the dwarf will typically attempt to fulfil other needs. It is possible, by using locked doors etc. to limit the paths, to force a specific tool to be assigned to a dwarf, but otherwise the tool will be randomly assigned, sometimes involving a dwarf walking long distances and past perfectly useful tools to find the one they think they want.

Facility requirements[edit]

Many jobs require a workshop or some other facility in order to be completed. Jobs are designated by way of the workshop, and any dwarf with the corresponding labor associated with the workshop will go to the shop, provided they are not eating, sleeping, drinking, etc..., and begin to complete the task. Most workshop jobs also require some raw materials in order to complete the production.

Managing labor and demand[edit]

This can be done from the labor menu y under the work details tab.

  • You can view a list of all current, queued, and suspended jobs, as well as which dwarves are doing them, on the tasks menu.
  • A manager is incredibly useful for managing production jobs (workshop based). They can queue up a significant list of jobs without the need to select the various workshops, and place orders in bulk (or to be repeated). That said, there are some caveats, the most important being that queued jobs must be done in the correct order of materials required, or the orders will auto cancel. Also, you should not assign your manager to labors that are in high demand, as this will keep them from going to their office to place the orders.
  • Migrating dwarves will typically arrive with certain work details already assigned. You will likely want to change these to put them to work in a way that best suits your fortress.

Advanced labor management and design[edit]

Managing your dwarves can be a tricky business. If the in-game labor menu is not to your liking, Dwarf Therapist or DFHack are both useful tools that assist you in managing your labors.

As your fortress grows, so will your labor pool, and the way you assign that labor will change over time. Typically at embark, you will have at least one Miner, a Wood cutter, Farmer, Carpenter, Mason/Stonecrafter, Cook/Brewer, Mechanic/Architect, one of which will also be a Broker/Appraiser. There are multiple combinations but this is typical (see Embark and Starting build). Early on, you will probably want to focus on fortress design and development, such that you will place priority on mining and masonry, supplemented by carpentry.

In order to maximize the benefit of highly skilled labor, you will eventually want to specialize your labor, such that each dwarf has a very limited number of labors assigned. Keep in mind however, that some dwarves experience minor negative feelings at not being able to perform a craft or a martial art for too long.

Hauling: Nothing can bog down your production like the distraction of hauling jobs. Losing your fort to a siege is fun, but losing because all your skilled laborers spend all their time hauling stuff is no fun. One solution is to use dedicated haulers. The migrants who appear having no skilled labor, and whose attributes pretty much suck all around, aka peasants, are best used as dedicated haulers.

Labor, skill, and product quality[edit]

The amount of experience a dwarf has with a certain labor will determine how well they go about performing this labor; the more experience, the greater the skill. Certain job types can be completed more quickly, based on the skill in the labor. There are exceptions, such as nursing and hauling which will never be completed more quickly, regardless of skill.

Certain labors will produce products that have a quality tag, typically those associated with the production of an item from a workshop. The table below lists in which labors the dwarf's experience will impact the quality of produced items and in which labors a higher experience will only be beneficial for the speed of production.

  • Many labors, most notably hauling, have no associated skill, do not generate experience, and do not improve with practice.

Strange moods[edit]

Main article: Strange mood

A dwarf under a strange mood will perform a specific task to create an artifact that is outside of the player's control. Until they complete the task, both they and the workshop they claim will be unavailable for any labor. If the dwarf cannot complete the artifact, they will go insane and be permanently unable to perform any labor.

"Labor" in other Languages Books-aj.svg aj ashton 01.svg
Dwarven: èrith
Elvish: equa
Goblin: akul
Human: ebe

List of labors[edit]

Category Labor Skill Benefits of higher skill
Miner Mining Miner speed only
Woodworker Carpentry Carpenter speed; item and furniture quality
Crossbow-making Bowyer speed; weapon quality
Wood cutting Wood cutter speed only
Stoneworker Masonry Mason speed only
Stone carving Stone carver speed; items and furniture quality
Stonecutting Stonecutter speed only
Stone engraving Engraver speed; engraving quality
Ranger Animal training Animal trainer speed; training quality
Animal care Animal caretaker none (not implemented)
Hunting Ambusher success rate tends to rise from increasing ambusher and marksdwarf skills
Trapping Trapper success rate? trap quality?[Verify]
Small animal dissection Animal dissector speed only
Doctor Diagnosis Diagnostician speed; chance of accurately diagnosing a syndrome
Surgery Surgeon speed, amount of bleeding caused, chance of failure
Setting bones Bone doctor speed only
Suturing Suturer
Dressing wounds Wound dresser
Other Healthcare Feed patients/prisoners No associated skill
Recovering wounded
Farmer Butchery Butcher speed only
Tanning Tanner speed only
Farming (fields) Planter speed; crop yield (stack size)
Dyeing Dyer speed; dye quality
Gelding Gelder less likely to be injured
Soap making Soaper speed only
Wood burning Wood burner speed only
Potash making Potash maker speed only
Lye making Lye maker speed only
Milling Miller speed only
Brewing Brewer speed only
Plant gathering Herbalist speed; success and plant yield (stack size)
Plant processing Thresher speed only
Cheese making Cheese maker speed only
Milking Milker speed only
Shearing Shearer speed only
Spinning Spinner speed only
Cooking Cook speed; meal and ingredient quality
Pressing Presser speed only
Beekeeping Beekeeper speed only[Verify]
Fishery worker Fishing Fisherdwarf speed; fish stack size
Fish cleaning Fish cleaner speed only
Fish dissection Fish dissector speed only
Metalsmith Furnace operating Furnace operator speed only
Weaponsmithing Weaponsmith speed; weapon quality
Armoring Armorsmith speed; armor quality
Blacksmithing Blacksmith speed; item and furniture quality
Metalcrafting Metal crafter speed; craft, item, decoration, designed building quality
Jeweler Gem cutting Gem cutter speed; gem craft quality
Gem setting Gem setter speed; decoration quality
Craftsdwarf Bookbinding Bookbinder ?
Papermaking Papermaker ?
Leatherworking Leatherworker speed; clothing, decoration, craft quality
Woodcrafting Wood crafter speed; craft quality
Stonecrafting Stone crafter speed; craft quality
Bone carving Bone carving speed; craft, decoration quality
Glassmaking Glassmaking speed; craft, item, furniture quality
Weaving Weaver speed; cloth quality
Clothesmaking Clothier speed; clothing, decoration quality
Strand extraction Strand extractor speed only
Pottery Potter speed; craft, item, furniture quality
Glazing Glazer speed; glaze quality
Wax working Wax worker speed; craft quality
Engineer Siege engineering Siege engineer speed; part, ammunition quality
Siege operating Siege operator speed; accuracy
Mechanics Mechanic speed; mechanism, furniture quality
Pump operating Pump operator none
Hauling Stone hauling No associated skill
Wood hauling
Item hauling
Food hauling
Refuse hauling
Furniture hauling
Animal hauling
Trade Good Hauling
Water Hauling
Push/Haul Vehicle
Other Jobs Cleaning No associated skill
Lever operation
Road building
Wall/floor construction

Some jobs are not associated with a labor: eating, drinking, sleeping, going on break, partying, cleaning themselves, and resting.

A few things are listed as "No Job" but can be considered labors in a different sense: running scared, not having a path to any place useful, and being insane.

D4Dwarf.png This article or section has been rated D for Dwarf. It may include witty humour, not-so-witty humour, bad humour, in-jokes, pop culture references, and references to the Bay12 forums. Don't believe everything you read, and if you miss some of the references, don't worry. It was inevitable.

Take note before trying to get dwarves to do stuff, they probably won't do it. it's just the sad truth....dwarves are so stupid that when they run out of food, they won't even step outside to get that juicy plant sitting right outside the gate, unless you micro-manage them to death. another famed example: a forgotten beast is walking through a tunnel to your fort, so smart ol' you, decides to build a wall. You then tell someone to do it. Luckily for you, Urist McForgotWhatSide builds the wall. He will take a stone, most likely from across the map, haul to the wall, begin building, and have to get a drink. He drops the stone to get some beer, well, while he's up there, he might as well take a quick nap. well, he finally wakes, goes down to build a wall, only to see Urist McMason stole his rock, so he goes across the map for another boulder. He finally finishes the wall, but hears voices on the other side, "You built from the wrong side!" he then hears a hiss from down the tunnel. The forgotten beast walks up to Urist McForgotWhatSide, and bites him in the head: the severed part sails off in an arc. Poor old Urist, "died of old age".

"Put both your backs into it!"

<(: <(: () <): T

Creatures Ui u.pngu
Tasks Ui t.pngt
Places Ui P.pngP
Labor Ui y.pngy
Work orders Ui o.pngo
Nobles and Administrators Ui n.pngn
Objects Ui O.pngO
Justice Ui j.pngj