Just like in its predececessor, FFIII, there’s a total of 22 jobs in the game, and they are granted to the party by the elemental crystals in batches of five or six. Most of the FFIII jobs also make a comeback, having now become mainstays of the series, and several other jobs that will go on to become recurrent also make their first appearance here. However, unlike the original NES version of FFIII, where every character looked the same when they changed jobs, each character now gets their own distinct outfit, in a welcome drive for diversification (the DS remake of FFIII also introduced some outfit differences, but they were minimal, and FFV predates them anyway). Lenna’s costumes are usually shorter and/or skimpier (of course), and Faris’ ones frequently differ in colour from the other party members’, probably as another way to emphasise her genderbending uniqueness.
Normal/Freelancer: This is the ‘default’ job, much like FFIII’s Onion Kid/Freelancer. However, unlike in FFIII, this is actually the most important job in the entire game. Whereas FFIII’s Onion Kids/Onion Knights could become powerful if you took the trouble to level them up and obtain the appropriate gear for them, FFV’s Normals/Freelancers will become powerful by the endgame, simply because of the way the job system works. The Normal/Freelancer will inherit innate abilities from every other job the character has mastered (except the Berserker), as well as being able to equip any two abilities s/he has learned, and any weapon or armour. It will also inherit the highest stat boosts (and no penalties) from all jobs the character has mastered. So switch your characters to a different job as soon as you’re able, but revert to Normals/Freelancers for the final (and optional) boss(es).
The Wind Crystal grants the party their first six ‘proper’ jobs, consisting of the usual basics plus one newcomer.
Knight: This is your staple melee job, the descendant of the Warrior from previous games. It grants significant boosts to strength and defence, and a tiny one to speed, with a hefty penalty to magic. The Knight has an innate ability called Cover, which will make it automatically shield allies who are low on HP. Its job command is Guard, which completely blocks physical attacks directed at it for one turn. This can be exploited: if the entire party except the Knight is weakened, just keep using Guard, and it will keep Covering them while taking no damage. Of course, this only works if the opponent only uses physical attacks (which can be achieved by casting Berserk…and it even works on Shinryu!). On top of this, the Knight eventually learns the Double Grip/Two-Handed ability, which forfeits the use of a shield, but doubles the damage dealt by swords, axes and katana, and is thus extremely useful. Its other abilities aren’t that great, so feel free to stop once you get Double Grip/Two-Handed. The Knight can equip heavy armour, all types of swords, daggers and shields.
Monk: As established in previous games, the Monk specialises in barehanded combat. Just like the Knight, it grants a significant boost to both strength and defence, and a tiny one to speed, while penalising magic. It also allows two attacks per turn. The outfits look like they’re lifted straight from a kung-fu film, and Lenna looks like a red version of Chun-Li (of Street Fighter fame). The Monk’s job command is Kick, which hits all enemies, albeit not for very much. Its innate ability is Counter, letting it counterattack whenever hit by a physical attack. Other noteworthy abilities include Build Up/Focus, which makes the Monk lose a turn, but attack for twice the damage on the next one, or Mantra/Chakra, which allows it to heal itself. Its last three abilities are not particularly useful, so stopping after Counter is fine. The Monk can’t equip any armour or weapons, which makes it rather vulnerable, despite its massive HP, so keep an eye out.
Thief: The Thief’s evolution from its beginnings in FFI is a steady upwards curve: it keeps getting better and better. This time around, it’s the fastest job in the game, and also grants a tiny boost to strength and defence, with a small penalty to magic. Its job command is, unsurprisingly, Steal, which allows it to pilfer enemy loot. It also gets a whopping three innates: See Passages/Find Passages, which makes secret passages visible, Dash/Sprint, which allows it to move about four times faster than normal by pressing B (a tad excessive), and Caution/Vigilance, which prevents back attacks. Other abilities include Flee, which is invaluable when you find a fight getting out of hand or simply don’t want to deal with annoying encounters, and Agility/Artful Dodger, which significantly increases the character’s speed. Needless to say that everybody can benefit from this, so mastering the job is a good idea. It can equip light armour and daggers.
White Mage: The job remains pretty much unchanged from its previous incarnations, down to the white and red robes, although Cara/Krile gets the infamous cat-ear hood from FFIII. The White Mage gains a sizeable boost to magic power, a tiny boost to speed and a moderate penalty to strength. Its job command is White Magic. It has no innate ability, and almost all it gains from levelling up is access to more spells. But since healing is a must-have, you’ll need at least one character to take this baby up to level 6. Its last ability gives the character an innate MP boost, but it’s so puny that you can safely ignore it. The White Mage can equip robes and staves.
Black Mage: Same as its White counterpart, the Black Mage retains its traditional look. It has no innate abilities, but it gets a larger magic power boost than the White Mage, as well as a larger penalty to strength and a tiny penalty to defence. Its job command is Black Magic, of which it also has six tiers. Its last ability is also an innate MP boost, but while it’s larger than the White Mage’s, it’s still not terribly useful. The Black Mage also faces some serious competition from both the Mystic Knight and the Summoner, but physically weak characters like Lenna and Cara/Krile can nevertheless get some use out of it. It can equip robes, rods and daggers.
Blue Mage: A newcomer to the series, the Blue Mage can hold its own on the front lines, much like a Red Mage, but learns its spells directly from enemies. In this game, the spell must hit the Blue Mage in order to be learned, which will either entail patience or the help of a Mediator/Beastmaster. The job grants a significant boost to magic power, tiny boosts to defence and speed, and a moderate penalty to strength. Its job command is Blue Magic, and its innate ability, Learning, enables it to memorise spells. Blue Magic is very versatile, including healing and protective spells (White Wind and Mighty Guard), status-affecting ones (e.g. Dark Shock/Dark Spark) and pure damage (e.g. Aqua Rake), so taking a Blue Mage or two to level 3 is a good investment. It can equip light armour, shields, rods, daggers and some swords.
The Water Crystal grants the party another six jobs, but the sixth one only becomes available later in the game, once all the other jobs have been obtained.
Berserker: Another first-timer, the Berserker is a contender for the title of ‘Most Useless Job in the Game’. It grants a hefty boost to strength and defence, a corresponding penalty to magic and a moderate penalty to speed. All it can do in combat is auto-attack, due to its innate Berserk status (which, thankfully, doesn’t get transferred to the Normal/Freelancer). This also grants it an additional damage boost, but I’m personally not a huge fan of being unable to control a character. Other melee jobs are more versatile and more useful, so unless you want its stat boosts transferred to the Normal/Freelancer (which is a legitimate goal, mind you), or to see the silly outfits, don’t waste your time. The job learns two abilities, one of which is Berserk and the other useless. It can equip heavy armour, shields, axes, hammers and daggers.
Red Mage: Much like its black and white counterparts, the Red Mage retains its traditional red outfit. It offers moderate boosts to strength, magic and speed, with a moderate penalty to defence, and can cast both white and black magic with its Red Magic job command. However, it’s restricted to the first three tiers of each magic school, which quickly becomes crippling. However, it does have one MAJOR saving grace: its final ability, X-Magic/Dualcast. This baby allows the character to cast two spells per turn. While it’s nothing spectacular on a Red Mage, due to its limited arsenal, give it to any other mage or to the Normal/Freelancer, and it suddenly becomes godly. The only problem is that it takes ages to learn (didn’t think you’d get something this good for free, did you?). I’d say it’s only a must-have for Lenna, but if you have the patience to teach it to Cara/Krile as well, feel free. The Red Mage can equip light armour, daggers, rods, staves and some swords.
Summoner: As all other mage jobs, the Summoner keeps its iconic horned look. It has no innate abilities, but it grants the highest magic boost in the game, with a significant penalty to strength, and tiny additional penalties to speed and defence. Its job command is Summon, which allows it to call upon a variety of creatures. Highlights include Bahamut and Leviathan, for pure damage; Phoenix, which damages the enemy and resurrects any dead teammates; and Golem, which shields the party from an obscene amount of damage. Don’t let your mages pass this up, although you can safely ignore its last ability. The Summoner can equip robes, daggers and rods.
Time Mage: Yet another first-timer, the Time Mage grants a significant boost to magic and a tiny boost to speed, with a moderate penalty to strength and a tiny one to defence. It has no innate ability and focuses on status magic, both beneficial and detrimental, with its Time Magic job command. Highlights include Haste; Exit/Teleport, which whisks the party out of dungeons; Reset/Return, which restarts a battle from the beginning (invaluable if you’re trying to steal a rare item or make strategic mistakes), and Quick, which allows a character to act twice per turn. It also has some offensive spells (Comet and Meteo/Meteor), but they’re not very reliable. As with most other mage jobs, its last ability isn’t worth learning. It can equip robes, rods and daggers.
Mystic Knight: This is a great addition to the job roster. The outfits have clear Middle-Eastern overtones, except Cara/Krile’s, which has a bit of cultural confusion going on (c.f. the Tilaka on her forehead). The Mystic Knight’s job command is Magic Sword/Spellblade, which enchants its sword with a black magic spell. This wastes a turn, but it costs less than a regular spell, deals hefty damage and lasts for the entire battle. And if that weren’t enough, it also works with status spells, which have a 100% success rate when used that way, provided the enemy isn’t immune. Obviously, this works wonders against any foe with a clear elemental or status weakness (hint: Omega). The Mystic Knight is just as fast as the Ninja, with moderate boosts to strength and defence, and even a tiny magic bonus. It has an innate ability called Barrier/Magic Shell, which puts up Shield/Shell when the user has low HP, but that’s rather useless. It can equip heavy armour, shields, daggers and some swords, but not all blades can be enchanted, so make sure to check their menu descriptions.
The Fire Crystal bestows five jobs, which are obtained in two batches: three immediately, then two more a little later.
Mediator/Beastmaster: Another novelty, the Mediator/Beastmaster outfits the party in…sheep costumes. The job provides a moderate boost to strength and defence, and a tiny boost to speed, with a small penalty to magic. It has no innate ability, and its job command, Catch, isn’t anything exciting. It can be used to capture a weakened monster (1/8 of its HP left), which then yields no experience and no loot. Catch then becomes Release, and the Mediator/Beastmaster can unleash its ‘pet’ onto another enemy, only to have to catch another one afterwards. Meh. However, one of the job’s later abilities, Control, is rather nifty, if situational. It allows the character to mind-control an enemy, thus neutralising it and turning it against its fellows (until it gets hit by a physical attack, which breaks the control). This can help a Blue Mage to learn spells. The Mediator/Beastmaster can equip light armour, whips and daggers.
Geomancer: This job combines the perks of being fun, useful and extremely easy to master. The Geomancer grants a sizeable boost to magic and small boosts to strength, defence and speed. It has two very useful innates: Damage Floor/Light Step, which allows the party to walk on spikes or lava unharmed, and Pitfall/Find Pits, which reveals hidden trapdoors. Its job command is Terrain/Gaia, which randomly selects one of four attacks based on the environment and the character’s level. Since the power of the attacks is based on the characters magic stat, but uses no MP, it’s essentially the most efficient damage dealing ability for a mage, regardless of the randomisation factor. All in all, you have nothing to lose from mastering one or two of these babies. The Geomancer can equip robes, bells and daggers.
Ninja: Another highlight of the job lineup. The Ninja is almost as fast as the Thief (same as a Mystic Knight), with a modest strength boost, a small defence boost, and a moderate penalty to magic. It has two innate abilities: 2 Weapons/Dual-Wield, which allows it to use one weapon in each hand (this is essential for the optional bosses), and Pre-Emptive/First Strike, which raises the party’s chance of a preemptive attack. Its job command is Throw, which allows it to toss any weapon at an enemy, as well as shuriken and skeans (which deal elemental damage). Other handy abilities include Smoke, which is the same as Flee, and Image, which creates two decoys of the user, allowing it to avoid two consecutive physical attacks. The Ninja can equip light armour, ninja daggers and regular daggers.
Hunter/Ranger: This would be an underwhelming job, if not for its wonderful final ability. The Hunter/Ranger has no innates, but grants a moderate boost to strength and speed, a tiny boost to defence and a small penalty to magic. Its job command is Aim, which ensures almost 100% accuracy and can be handy against evasive enemies. It also has an ability called Animals, which summons random woodland creatures to either deal damage or cure the party, depending on the user’s level. But the real perk is X-Fight/Rapid Fire, which triggers four consecutive attacks. Each attack’s damage is halved, and if you’re facing numerous enemies, there’s no telling who they’ll hit. But this ability shines against single targets, especially if combined with 2 Weapons/Dual-Wield (resulting in eight attacks per character per turn). The Hunter/Ranger can equip light armour, daggers and bows, and you no longer have to keep buying arrows like in FFIII, which is a blessing.
Bard: An easily mastered job, but not a particularly useful one. The Bard has no innate abilities, but grants a moderate boost to magic and speed, with a corresponding penalty to strength and defence. Its job command is Sing, which allows it to pick from a selection of eight songs. The problem is that five of those tie up the character for the entire battle: they have to keep singing to keep up the effect. While this costs no MP, it’s still rather handicapping. Of the remaining three songs, only Requiem is genuinely useful, as it deals hefty damage to undead, so you may consider including it in one character’s bag of tricks, if you have the ABP to spare. The Bard can equip robes, harps and daggers.
The Earth Crystal is a tad less generous than its fellows, as it only grants four jobs.
Chemist: The Chemist is a descendant of FFIII’s Scholar, and while it’s more useful that its predecessor, it’s still more trouble than it’s worth. It grants small boosts to strength, defence and speed, with a small penalty to magic. Its innate ability is Medicine/Pharmacology, which doubles the effects of Potions and Ethers. Its job command is Drink, which allows it to gobble special stat-enhancing potions, and while they’re certainly helpful, they only work on the user. The real novelty, however, is its Mix ability, which allows it to combine two items to produce a positive or negative effect. The problem is that you need a table to look up the possible results, and that few of them are actually any good. The job’s other abilities are Recover and Revive, which are free versions of the Esuna and Life spells, but each take up an ability slot, which essentially kills their usefulness. Bottom line: you can safely bypass this job. It can equip robes, daggers and staves.
Dancer: Yet another newcomer, which certainly makes a lasting impression in the outfit department, as Galuf has apparently forgotten all about trousers. Here, have some Brain Bleach™. Despite its lack of innates, the Dancer is an interesting job. It grants modest boosts to strength, defence and speed, with a small penalty to magic, and its job command, Dance, randomly performs one of four dances. Sword Dance is the best, dealing four times the damage of a normal attack. On top of that, the job can use three unique pieces of equipment that raise the probability of Sword Dance occurring to 50%. The Dancer’s other perk is its final ability. While it’s called Equip Ribbons, it actually includes the aforementioned Dancer-specific gear as well. So not only is this the only way for any character to have protection from negative status effects (which is vital when facing the final boss), it’ll also allow them to make good use of Sword Dance with any job. The Dancer can equip light armour and daggers.
Dragoon: I’ve always been partial to Dragoons, but while they still have their usual perks, they get somewhat shortchanged this time around, which is a pity. The armour is heavily inspired by FFIV’s Kain, Butz/Bartz even pushing the similarity to the point of cloning. The Dragoon has no innate abilities, but offers sizeable boosts to strength and defence, and a more modest boost to speed, with a significant penalty to magic. Its job command is Jump, which will send it flying (and out of reach of damage) then crashing down on an enemy’s head, dealing double damage if equipped with a spear. With Dragon Spears and the 2 Weapons/Dual-Wield ability, this is a potent strategy against Shinryu. The problem is that spears don’t work with Double Grip/Two-Handed or Magic Sword, which limits the Dragoon’s overall usefulness. On top of that, its other abilities are lacklustre. The Dragoon can equip heavy armour, shields, spears and daggers.
Samurai: Another great melee job that will become recurrent in the series, the Samurai offers a significant boost to strength and defence, and a tiny one to speed, with a sizeable penalty to magic. Its wonderful innate ability is called Evade/Shirahadori, frequently allowing it to avoid physical attacks. Its job command, Gil Toss/Zeninage, attacks all enemies with the party’s hard-earned cash (don’t ask…). While it deals hefty damage, especially at higher levels, it’s pretty wasteful, so save it for endgame bosses, where it truly shines. The job’s final ability is called Slash/Iainuki, which takes an extra turn, but attempts to instantly kill all enemies on screen. However, while it sounds great on paper, it can miss, and most later-game enemies are immune to it, so it’s not worth the hassle. The Samurai can equip heavy armour, shields, daggers and katana. The latter work with Double Grip/Two-Handed and also have a higher critical hit rate than swords. The downside is that they won’t work with Magic Sword. Can’t have everything, right?
Mimic/Mime: Remember that one job from the Water Crystal that you couldn’t get right away? Well, this is it. It requires extra effort to obtain, but it’s an interesting option. The Mimic/Mime looks exactly like a Normal/Freelancer, except with a cape. Galuf will be gone by the time you obtain the job, so he doesn’t have a costume. The Mimic/Mime functions a lot like the Normal/Freelancer, in that it inherits innate abilities and the highest stat boosts from all the other jobs a character has mastered, except Berserk. It also has one more ability slot than the Normal/Freelancer (it won’t have the Item command by default), which allows for more flexibility. However, since it’s also limited in its equipment, it will have to waste one of those slots if it wants to use a Ribbon, or any weapon other than a dagger, rod or staff (it can still equip any armour though). Its job command is Mimic, which replaces its Fight command and lets it reproduce the last action a party member has taken. Mimicking Item still consumes the corresponding item from the party’s inventory, mimicking randomised abilities like Terrain/Gaia or Dance still randomises the outcome and mimicking Gil Toss/Zeninage still uses up money, but mimicking spells will not deplete the user’s MP. It requires correct timing in combat, but the Mimic/Mime is a great way to boost a mage’s versatility, if the enemy doesn’t use status effects.