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The Sims 4 skills list: every skill explained

How to develop skills in The Sims 4, and how emotions affect skill building

When The Sims 4 was first released, there were quite a few skills Sims could learn to help them get certain jobs, unlock special activities and interact with other Sims, with some even unlocking new revenue streams. However, if you count all of the skills introduced in every single DLC pack, that number has now ballooned to over double the base game's skill list. Learning these skills is often vital to getting that dream job for your Sims, while others just make Sims look better on the dance floor.

In this Sims 4 skills guide, we will be showing you how to learn skills, teaching you how moods affect your Sim's ability to use said skill, and give you a full list of all the skills in the game.

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Sims 4 skills list

Here is a list of all of the Sims 4 skills in the game. All these skills have 10 levels and are available to Sims aged Teen and older unless otherwise noted.

Skills Base/DLC pack Ideal Mood(s) How to use skill Notes
Charisma Base game Confident, Happy Talk to Sims or practice in front of mirrors. Helps form friendships and romantic relationships faster.
Cooking Base game Inspired Cook a meal. Unlocks better recipes. Quality of food improved with Inspired mood.
Comedy Base game Playful Use Funny social interactions on other Sims, write jokes on a computer, practice comedy on a microphone. Learn to write jokes, perform comedy routines, and earn tips for making Sims laugh.
Fishing Base game Focused Fish at a sign near a body of water. Improve fishing skill to get a chance to catch better fish.
Fitness Base game Energized Use gym equipment, go jogging, swim, or exercise. Lose weight, gain muscle, or stay in shape. Will eventually swim faster and unlock special healthy recipes.
Gardening Base game Focused Plant harvestables (pick in the wild or buy seeds on the computer), water and care for plants. Will eventually be able to take cuttings and graft onto other plants. This unlocks new plant types.
Guitar Base game Inspired Play guitar. Make money by making licensed songs to earn commission. Can play for tips.
Gourmet Cooking Base game Inspired Cook a gourmet meal. Unlocked at Cooking level 5. Unlocks better recipes. Quality of food improved with Inspired mood.
Handiness Base game Focused Repair broken objects, upgrade objects, or craft at a woodworking table. Can eventually make objects unbreakable, self-cleaning, or perform better. Working with wood allows you to craft furniture.
Logic Base game Focused Play chess or card games, use telescope/microscope, use Get to Work career objects. Can also paint mathematical diagrams with the easel if Focused. Improves ability to play chess and use telescope/microscope.
Mischief Base game Angry, Happy, Confident Use Mischief social interactions on other Sims, troll forums on computer. Eventually get a voodoo doll to inflict harm on enemies.
Mixology Base game Inspired Make drinks using bar object. Get better at making drinks to unlock new drink recipes, eventually allowing you to earn money and make drinks to boost emotions. Quality of drinks improved with Inspired mood.
Painting Base game Inspired Paint on an easel or digital sketch pad. Angry, Flirty, Confident, Sad, or Focused moods unlock painting styles that give off unique emotional auras.
Photography Base game (formerly required Get to Work) Inspired Take photos using the Sim's built-in phone camera, or a camera purchased in Build Mode. Only goes up to Level 5. Higher cost camera produce better images which can be sold for massive profits. Photos can be displayed at home or sold in shops.
Piano Base game Inspired Play piano. Make money by making licensed songs to earn commission. Can play for tips.
Programming Base game Focused Program using a computer. Can make money from writing apps and plugins, or via nefarious means such as hacking.
Rocket Science Base game Focused Build a rocket (base can be purchased in Build Mode). Build and repair rockets. Find rare items such as aliens and space rocks. Can upgrade rockets to improve their performance in space missions.
Video gaming Base game Focused Play video games on a computer, phone, or console. Meet needs for fun. Can eventually make money or compete as a professional in tournaments.
Violin Base game Inspired Play violin. Make money by making licensed songs to earn commission. Can play for tips.
Writing Base game Inspired Write at a computer. Publish novels to earn money. New genres added by advancing the skill.
Baking Get To Work Inspired Bake food. Unlocks better recipes. Baked goods can be sold in retail stores or bakeries. Quality of food improved with Inspired mood.
Dancing Get Together Confident Dance to music and/or on dance floor. Only goes up to Level 5. Improves the Sim's dancing animations. Helps lose weight.
DJ Mixing Get Together Inspired Play music at DJ booth. Earn tips and unlock more music genres at higher levels. Engage with audience to hype them up.
Singing City Living Inspired Use a microphone or karaoke machine. Sing in the shower or as a self-interaction. With Seasons, sing holiday songs alone or with other Sims. Perform on microphone for tips. Can be combined with the guitar skill to do both at once. Write songs and licence them to make money.
Pet Training Cats & Dogs Focused Train dogs and cats. Only goes up to Level 5. Reinforce desirable (or not) behaviours in dogs and cats. Teach dogs tricks and commands, gain the explore ability to help your dog find collectables.
Veterinarian Cats & Dogs Focused Use the vet crafting table to make medicine, treat sick animals at the pet exam table or pet surgery station. Improve owned vet clinic business with Vet Points. Unlock new serums, pet interactions, and treats that affect pet age. Can make pets immortal.
Flower Arranging Seasons Inspired Arrange flowers at a flower arranging table. Sell flower arrangements. High levels allow infusion of scents that have powerful effects. These can extend or reduce a Sim's ageing process.
Skating Seasons Focused Skate in a rink. You can buy them but the game spawns them near parks or other public areas (ice rinks in winter and roller skating rinks in other seasons). Secret skill that doesn't show on your skill list. Only goes up to Level 5. Also increases Fitness.
Acting Get Famous Confident Take gigs in the Acting career, practice on mirrors, or perform scenes for tips and to increase fame. Used in Actor Career. Can also direct conversations.
Media Production Get Famous Inspired Mix music, record video blogs, or get drone footage, then publish it. Only goes up to Level 5. Provides fame and residual income.
Research & Debate Discover University Focused Debate at the podium, perform research on the archive machine, or practice in mirrors. Participate in the debate club and perform research that builds other skills at a higher rate. Influenced other Sims' behaviour. Can eventually earn Simoleons for contributing to debates and research.
Robotics Discover University Focused Craft at the robotics station. Build Servos, Exosuits, and bots to do household chores. Servos can become playable household members.
Fabrication Eco Lifestyle Focused Craft at the fabricator or candle making station. Craft functional objects, including furniture, from recycled materials, which can be placed around your Sims' home or sold for Simoleons. Building skill unlocks new craftables. Higher-level candles can produce Emotional auras.
Juice Fizzing Eco Lifestyle N/A Craft at the juice fizzing machine. Only goes up to Level 5. Drinking juices boosts emotions. Maxing out the skill unlocks a unique reward trait.
Rock Climbing Snowy Escape, Fitness Stuff Focused Climb rock faces or the mountain in Mt. Komorebi (Snowy Escape) or use the rock climbing wall (Fitness Stuff). The Fitness Stuff version of this skill is hidden and only goes up to Level 5. With Snowy Escape, all skill interactions are visible and go up to Level 10, plus higher skill unlocks better equipment and lowers chance of death by falling while mountain climbing.
Skiing Snowy Escape Confident Ski on the slopes in Mt. Komorebi. Higher skill levels unlock better equipment, trick animations, and access to more difficult slopes.
Snowboarding Snowy Escape Energized Snowboard on the slopes in Mt. Komorebi. Higher skill levels unlock better equipment, trick animations, and access to more difficult slopes.
Cross-stitch Cottage Living Inspired Stitch on cross-stitch hoops. Only goes up to Level 5. At higher levels, Sims can stitch more intricate patterns or stitch from reference.
Entrepreneur High School Years Inspired Sell crafted items or busk for tips, or complete Odd Jobs/freelancer gigs/side hustles. Only goes up to Level 5. Can be gained by Teen and older Sims. Higher levels open up more unique money-making opportunities and a reward trait.
Herbalism Outdoor Retreat Focused Gather/eat/identify herbs in Granite Falls. Brew concoctions using grills. Specimens can be planted at home. Learn to brew concoctions to cure ailments. Befriend the Hermit in the Deep Woods to learn a unique recipe.
Wellness Spa Day Focused Practice yoga, meditate, give or receive massages at the massage table, or use the sauna. Learn to give massages. Can meditate to freeze needs and learn to teleport. Can perform yoga routines to boost positive moods.
Pipe Organ Vampires Inspired Play pipe organ. Make money by making licensed songs to earn commission. Can play for tips.
Vampire Lore Vampires Focused Read Encyclopedia Vampirica skill books. Goes up to Level 15. Can be gained by Child and older Sims. Gives non-vampire Sims the ability to ward off vampires and protect against them. Vampires can reduce their weakness to the sun, find alternate feeding sources, and cure vampirism.
Parenting Parenthood Focused Young adults and older Sims gain this skill by interacting with teen and younger Sims in their household. Improves skills as a parent, allowing Sim to encourage children's behaviour.
Archaeology Jungle Adventure Focused Navigating traps and puzzles in Selvadorada. Can unlock artifacts and relics that create powerful magic.
Selvadoradian Culture Jungle Adventure N/A Interact with the locals of Selvadorada, eat local food, interact with town square statue. Only goes up to Level 5. Unlock new interactions with locals and abilities for jungle exploration.
Bowling Bowling Night Stuff Focused Bowl at a bowling alley. Only goes up to Level 5. Increases fun and social if playing with other Sims.
Knitting Nifty Knitting Stuff Inspired Knit using a yarn basket. Can be gained by Child and older Sims. Sims can craft wearable clothing and decorative household items. These can then be placed around the house, worn using a dresser/mirror, or sold for Simoleons.
Medium Paranormal Stuff Confident, Inspired Commune with ghosts using a séance table or séance circle. Only goes up to Level 5. Can be gained by Child and older Sims. Higher skill levels unlock more ambitious communication with ghosts, including the ability to summon Bonehilda the skeleton maid.

A family of five Sims, ranging in age from toddler to elder.

The Sims 4 child and toddler skills

As stated above, the majority of Sims 4 skills are only available to Teen Sims and older. That's because Children and Toddlers have their own unique skill sets.

The skills gained by very young Sims don't carry directly over into their more mature life stages. However, having a high level toddler or childhood skill can grant useful bonus traits, or predispose a Sim to be better at certain types of skills in later life.

The table below details all the skills in The Sims 4 that are only available to toddlers and children. All of these skills are available in the base game. Unless otherwise stated, Toddler Skills have five levels each, while Child Skills have 10.

Skill Age Ideal mood(s) How to develop skill Notes
Communication Toddler Happy Babble to self, other Sims, stuffed animals, or mirrors. Watch videos on the Wabbit Tablet. Children who had high Communication skill as toddlers will start with extra points in Social skill. Maxing several toddler skills can grant a lifelong bonus trait.
Imagination Toddler Playful Play with toys, watch TV, read (or be read to), listen to music, play with tablet. Children who had high Imagination skill as toddlers will start with extra points in Creativity skill. Maxing several toddler skills can grant a lifelong bonus trait.
Movement Toddler N/A Walk, play with nesting blocks, play wrestle, dance, climb stairs. Children who had high Movement skill as toddlers will start with extra points in Motor skill. Maxing several toddler skills can grant a lifelong bonus trait.
Potty Toddler N/A Potty train with an adult's help when the bladder need gets low. Only goes up to Level 3 and has no corresponding Child skill.
Thinking Toddler N/A Play with nesting blocks, flash cards, or tablets. Perform "What's this?" interaction on objects. Children who had high Thinking skill as toddlers will start with extra points in Mental skill. Maxing several toddler skills can grant a lifelong bonus trait.
Creativity Child Inspired Play music, draw or paint, play with dollhouses and other imaginative toys. Improving this skill allows Sims to build Creativity skills (e.g. culinary, musical, and artistic skills) at a faster rate in later life.
Mental Child Focused Experiment at science table, play chess, play educational games on computer. Improving this skill allows Sims to build Mental skills (e.g. logical, technological, and nature skills) at a faster rate in later life.
Motor Child Energized Play on playground equipment, practice typing on a computer. Improving this skill allows Sims to build the Fitness skill at a higher rate in later life.
Social Child Confident Interact with other Sims, play with social toys, watch on a computer. Improving this skill allows Sims to build the Social skills (e.g. Charisma, Comedy, and Mischief) at a higher rate in later life.

How to use skill books

Many Sims 4 skills can be learned from skill books. They can be read at the library or bought via your computer or bookcase. Reading a skill book is often the quickest way to learn a skill. Skill books come in three volumes per skill, and it is important to get the right volume for your Sim's skill level. These are the skill levels that each skill book volume can increase:

  • Volume 1: Skill levels 1-4
  • Volume 2: Skill levels 5-7
  • Volume 3: Skill levels 8-9

The final skill level needs to be learned by doing a related activity enough times to master the skill. The only exception is Vampire Lore, which can only be mastered by reading the appropriate skill books.

People dancing in a club in a The Sims 4: Get Together screenshot.

How emotions affect your Sim's skills

Good emotions allow you to increase your Sim's skill level quicker, and the chances of getting a preferred outcome such as creating a masterpiece with the painting skill. Your Sim's mood can also negatively impact your ability to use skills, so if your Sim is tense, try to get rid of that mood before trying to improve or use the skill.

Some emotions enable your Sims to make special versions of their creations, too, such as a playful novel or an angry painting. This can invoke that emotion in Sims who read or view them.

Here are all of the emotions in the game:

Good emotions:

  • Happy
  • Confident
  • Energized
  • Flirty
  • Focused
  • Inspired
  • Playful

Neutral emotions:

  • Fine
  • Asleep

Bad or Negative emotions:

  • Angry (Can be good for Criminals or Mischievous Sims)
  • Bored
  • Dazed (Can be good for Comedians)
  • Embarrassed
  • Sad
  • Tense
  • Uncomfortable
  • Scared
  • Possessed (Requires StrangerVille)

Now that you know how to build every skill in The Sims 4, you might be interested to learn that you can bypass all that hard work and just cheat to increase them! If such underhanded tactics are your thing, we aren't going to judge... in fact, I'll just direct you towards our The Sims 4 cheats guide so that you can get started. Or if you saw a skill you like the look of but don't own the relevant pack to use it yet, get informed with our comprehensive buyer's guide to the best Sims 4 DLC.

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Rebecca Jones

Former Guides Writer

Rebecca is now geeking out about multi-platform games on VG247, but rumour has it that if you chant "Indiescovery podcast" three times in front of your PC monitor, she'll reappear in the RPS comments section.