The job system is one of the main highlights of FFT, as it’s pretty much the bread-and-butter of combat. It’s also a bit more complex than its previous incarnations. There are 20 jobs in total (22 in War of the Lions)–although in the case of the main cast, their unique job replaces Squire in the selection–but not all of them are available from the start. A character needs to reach a certain level in another job (or jobs) in order to unlock new ones. Additionally, jobs are split in two trees: physical jobs and magic jobs, and characters will usually stay on one track; i.e. physical jobs are unlocked by levelling other physical jobs, and the same goes for magic ones, with one exception (three in WotL). Each tree has two branches: physical jobs are divided between the ‘strength’ and ‘speed’ branches, while magic jobs are divided between the ‘damage’ and ‘status’ branches. As female characters have better Magic Attack (MA) growth, while male ones have better Physical Attack (PA) growth, you usually want male characters for melee jobs and female ones for magic jobs, with the exception of the two gender-exclusive jobs: only female characters can be Dancers and only male characters can be Bards, which is counterintuitive, because Dancer is a physical job, while Bard is a magic one. Generic female and male units have different outfits (unique characters keep their default clothes).
Each job has its own skillset: an Action Ability (which encompasses several skills or spells), a Reaction Ability, a Support Ability and a Movement Ability, which, once learned, can be assigned to any other job, thereby increasing versatility (so each job can have two Action Abilities: its own and one other). Each of these Abilities (or, in the case of Action Abilities, each skill included under them) requires some Job Points (JP), which are earned from actions taken in combat and can be used to learn the skill of your choice. If a character learns every skill from a given job, it becomes mastered, which is indicated by a star above its head in the menu. Moreover, whenever a character earns JP in a certain job, every other character on the team earns ¼ of that JP in the same job, so you might, for example, unlock a job on a character and find that it already has a boatload of JP to spend, courtesy of the other characters. Each job also has its own stat growth, so gaining levels as a Wizard/Black Mage is going to produce very different results from gaining levels as a Monk, for example, which is another reason why you want to keep characters on their own set progression paths.
Squire: The basic starting physical job, with a rather unappealing brownish outfit. As you can expect, it’s nothing to write home about stat-wise (except Ramza, whose stat gain as a Squire is much better). Its Action Ability is called Basic Skill/Fundaments and has one noteworthy move called Focus, which is a great way of racking up JP if/when your character has nothing better to do on a given turn. Another perk of the Squire is a larger movement range than most jobs and a good starting Movement Ability (Move +1), which will tide your character over until they unlock Thief. Most importantly, the Squire has an essential Support Ability called Gained JP Up/JP Boost. As its name indicates, this increases the amount of JP the character gains and will basically remain on said character for at least 80% of the game. It can equip swords, knives, axes and flails, as well as light armour. Taking Squire to Level 2 unlocks Archer and Knight, and taking it to Level 8 it is part of unlocking Mime.
Knight: Available after reaching Squire Level 2, this is the first job of the ‘strength’ branch, sporting heavy plate and white capes. It has a surprisingly great stat growth, for a job you unlock so early, and it remains potent in raw melee, especially once you start finding knight swords, which usually come with nice stat boosts attached. Where it falters is in its Action Ability, Battle Skill/Arts of War. It includes some useful moves on paper, which can either lower a target’s stats (e.g. Speed) or break a piece of their equipment. The downside, as with Meliadoul, is that, in the vanilla game, these abilities will simply not work against monsters, and that, later on, you’re more often better served by simply damaging the enemy right away. Moreover, once the enemies start becoming more evasive, you’ll be better off giving this ability to a Ninja, which is faster and gets two tries per turn. Other than that, the Knight’s Reaction Ability, Parry, can be somewhat useful as a filler until you learn something else. Equipment options include swords and knight swords, shields, heavy armour and robes. Taking Knight to Level 2 unlocks Monk, and taking it to Level 3 is part of unlocking Samurai.
Archer: Also available after reaching Squire Level 2, this is the first job of the ‘speed’ branch, outfitted in red tunics and brown thigh-high boots. Unfortunately, it suffers from several problems. First of all, its Action Ability, Charge/Aim, consists exclusively of Charge+/Aim+ attacks, which will add a variable number of extra turns before the attack goes off in exchange for extra power. What this essentially means is that, past, say, Aim+3, the ability becomes useless, because the target will most likely have moved away by the time it triggers, and you’d be better served by firing several regular attacks in the same amount of time. The Archer also has a finicky attack range, as it won’t be able to target enemies within some 2 tiles around it and, in general, it’s always better to park it on an elevated spot for best results, which isn’t an advantage you’ll have as frequently as you ‘d like. It’s quite potent with longbows, but you’d have to reach the Deep Dungeon/Midlight’s Deep before you can find some truly good ones. In short, the Archer is just a hassle to use more than necessary, although its Support Ability, Concentrate/Concentration (makes attacks unblockable) may occasionally come in handy against high-evasion enemy units. It can use bows and crossbows, light armour and shields (but only with a crossbow). Taking it to Level 2 unlocks Thief.
Monk: Available after reaching Knight Level 2, this is a great, surprisingly multipurpose job. Male Monks look like Aladdin, while female ones wear blue catsuits and massive gloves and boots. The Monk fights with its bare hands and packs a wallop in melee. It’s also faster than either of its predecessors, has a better height range, as well as being evasive and having lots of HP, which somewhat offsets its inability to equip anything except light body armour and female-exclusive accessories (where appropriate). It also has a great physical stat growth. Its Action Ability is called Punch Art/Martial Arts and is possibly the most versatile skillset in the game: it includes damage, status effects, healing and even Revive. The Monk also has Counter as a Reaction Ability (self-explanatory and great to have). You could consider learning Hamedo/First Strike (a preemptive blow instead), but its JP cost is outrageous unless you’re planning to turn a character into a dedicated Monk. Interestingly enough, the Monk’s Support Ability, Brawler, also increases the success rate of Steal, so if you really want to filch something, a Thief may benefit from it. Taking Monk to Level 3 unlocks Geomancer, and taking it to Level 4 is part of unlocking Samurai.
Thief: Available after reaching Archer Level 2 and sporting its trademark green tunics and bandannas, this job has one main purpose: to liberate rare/good equipment from enemies with its Steal Action Ability. You’re mostly after the equipment stealing skills, but it can also steal money, EXP and even the enemy’s heart, with the possibility to Charm a unit of the opposite gender to make it fight on your side (this is more useful on a female character, as there are more male enemies than female ones). It has the speed and height advantage of the Monk, and the movement range of the Squire, as well as the highest evasion thus far. It even has a pretty good stat growth, notably increasing a character’s speed. Its other main attraction is the invaluable Move+2 Movement Ability. It also has Secret Hunt/Poach as a Support Ability, which you will need if you intend to breed monsters for loot, and Catch/Sticky Fingers as a Reaction Ability, which can be (very rarely) useful at high levels against enemy Ninjas. The Thief can equip knives and light armour. Taking it to Level 3 unlocks Lancer/Dragoon, and taking it to Level 4 is part of unlocking Ninja.
Geomancer: Available after reaching Monk Level 3, this is a hybrid job, with outfits that have a distinctly Mesoamerican vibe for male characters and more of a hippie one for female ones. Despite being classified as physical, it has a magic-based skillset and better magic growth than other melee jobs. It has the same movement range as Squire and Thief, and uniformly high base stats. It can equip swords, axes, shields and light armour. Its Action Ability is called Elemental/Geomancy and consists of an array of weak, instant-cast elemental spells. The spell depends on the terrain the Geomancer is standing on and has a 25% chance of causing a negative status effect (also depending on the terrain). This is good for whittling down the enemy as your character approaches. The downside is that you have little choice in the matter, as most maps have two-three types of terrain at best, so you’re not guaranteed to have access to the better status effects at any given time. The Geomancer also has Attack Up/Attack Boost as a Support Ability, which grants a whopping 33% physical damage increase and is definitely worth picking up. Taking Geomancer to Level 2 is part of unlocking Ninja, and taking it to Level 5 is part of unlocking both Mime and Dancer.
Lancer/Dragoon: Available after reaching Thief Level 3, this is a very good melee job with similar stat growth to the Knight, but better offensive options. Male Dragoons wear purple plate, female ones red, and both genders sport the job’s trademark winged helmets. The Lancer/Dragoon shares an increased height range with the Monk and the Thief. It can equip polearms, shields, heavy armour and robes, with the added perk that a polearm can reach across two tiles, thus allowing it to safely bypass enemy Reaction Abilities like Counter. The job’s Action Ability is called Jump and, much like the Archer’s Aim, allows it to land an increasing number of tiles further (from 2 to 8), horizontally or vertically. The problem is that the 8 tile versions cost a LOT of JP, so it’s a good idea to just learn a few in-between options. The vertical jumps are also made somewhat redundant by the job’s Movement Ability, Ignore Height/Ignore Elevation, which simply acts as if the combat map was flat. You do have to sacrifice Move+2 to use it though, so maybe use it as a stop gap while you lean Vertical Jump 6 (you probably don’t need 8). The higher a character’s speed, the faster their jumps will land, so characters who have spent time as Thieves will do better. Taking the Lancer/Dragoon to Level 2 is part of unlocking Samurai, and taking it to Level 5 is part of unlocking Mime and Dancer.
Samurai: The first job on the roster which requires multiple jobs to unlock, Samurai becomes available after reaching Knight Level 3, Monk Level 4 and Lancer/Dragoon Level 2. Male characters wear typical red Samurai armour, while female ones have a more original outfit with super-wide black overalls. This is the last job in the ‘strength’ branch, and it’s…not quite what you’d expect. It has higher evasion than most jobs, can wear heavy armour (and robes…) and has top-notch damage potential, but its HP is low and its Action Ability, Draw Out/Iaido, is magic-based (although it doesn’t depend on Faith). It’s almost as versatile as a Monk’s Punch Art/Martial Arts, but draws on the latent power of various katana, independently of the one equipped. The results are instantaneous and include damage, healing and/or status effects, with no danger of friendly fire or healing enemies. You do, however, need to have the katana in your inventory, and there’s about a 10% chance that it will break with each use, which is particularly annoying for the rarer katana (be especially careful with the Masamune and Chirijiraden). The Samurai’s other perk is the amazing Blade Grasp/Shirahadori Reaction Ability, otherwise known as ‘Can’t Touch This’. This allows it to evade any physical attack that doesn’t ignore Evasion, be it melee or ranged, from the front or from behind, the chance of success being based on its Brave/Bravery score.
Ninja: The ‘speedy’ counterpart of the Samurai, Ninja becomes available after reaching Archer Level 3, Thief Level 4 and Geomancer Level 2. It’s the fastest (tied with Mime) and most evasive generic job in the game, which, combined with a movement and height range equal to the Thief’s and a good attack power, makes it very deadly. Male Ninjas have a blue outfit with a veil, while female ones wear red tunics and headscarves, and black tights. The Ninja can wield two weapons, which means attacking twice per turn; this notably also applies to any ‘Break’ abilities from the Battle Skill/Arts of War skillset, with some truly crippling results. The Ninja can equip knives, ninja blades, flails and light armour. The downside is that it’s squishy and will go down fast under concentrated attack, especially of the magical kind. Its Action Ability is Throw, enabling it to chuck a variety of things at the enemy, including shuriken, bombs (which deal elemental damage) and almost any kind of weapon except bows/crossbows, staves and guns. Of course, this means keeping throwable things in ready supply, so don’t go trigger-happy with the expensive stuff. It also has some interesting Reaction Abilities: Sunken State/Vanish will make it go invisible (and thus impervious to physical attacks) until it attacks next or is hit by a spell, while Abandon/Reflexes will double its physical and magical evasion rate. Most importantly, though, its Support Ability, Two Swords/Dual Wield, will transfer its ability to use two weapons to any other job.
Dancer: This is one of the two gender-specific support jobs, available after reaching Level 5 with both Geomancer and Lancer/Dragoon on a female character, which is a bit odd, as female units are better suited to magic jobs than melee ones. The outfit, despite being a muddy brown, flashes some generous midriff. It has low overall stats, which make it unsuited for direct combat, and functions slightly differently from the other jobs. Its Action Ability, Dance, consists of a variety of moves that cause negative status effects or lower enemy stats. The effect will apply to every enemy unit on the map (it can miss though) and will last for several turns with a stacking effect, which is pretty damn good. The downside is that the Dancer will be tied up–dancing, as it were–during that time and unable to do anything else, thus making it extremely vulnerable. Which is why it needs to be kept as far back from the action as possible. It can equip light armour, knives and…strips of cloth. The upside is that they reach across two tiles, like polearms and poles, thus bypassing Reaction Abilities like Counter, and have a very high parrying rate, if an enemy does get up close and personal. Unfortunately, unlike the Bard, it doesn’t learn Move+3.
Chemist: Looking like it has just arrived from Tyrol and serving as the counterpart to the Squire, this is the basic magic job, although it can’t actually cast anything. Instead, its magic stat affects the damage output of elemental guns…once you actually have access to them. It can also equip knives and light armour. However, it has subpar stats and poor evasion. On the other hand, the Chemist’s Action Ability, Items, is extremely useful, as it doles out items over a large range with no Charge Time (CT), no MP cost and no consideration for either Faith or Zodiac compatibility, even though all you will really need are Potions and Phoenix Downs, maybe Antidotes. It also has the very useful Maintenance/Safeguard Support Ability, which prevents equipment from being broken or stolen and is ideal when facing enemy Knights and/or Thieves. Finally, it has the Move-Find Item/Treasure Hunter Movement Ability, which will be essential for the Deep Dungeon/Midlight’s Deep, finding Cloud’s Materia Blade and any other treasure hunting you may desire to engage in. Taking Chemist to Level 2 unlocks Priest/White Mage and Wizard/Black Mage, and taking it to Level 8 is part of unlocking Mime.
Priest/White Mage: Available after reaching Chemist Level 2 and donning its trademark white-and-red-robes, this is your go-to medic and the first job on the ‘status’ branch. It can equip staves and robes, and has the same speed as a Thief or a Monk, which makes it the fastest mage job (makes sense: healing is best done quickly). Its White Magic(ks) Action Ability includes the staple curative and restorative spells, but also the very powerful Holy spell (more powerful than its Black Magic equivalent, Flare). However, you may find that using items (or a Chemist) is more practical, as it costs no MP and requires no CT. Until you learn Math Skill/Arithmeticks, that is; Holy also benefits from this tremendously. The Priest/White Mage also has the Regenerator Reaction Ability, which will helpfully trigger Regen after being attacked. Taking Priest/White Mage to Level 2 unlocks Oracle/Mystic and taking it to Level 4 is part of unlocking Calculator/Arithmetician.
Wizard/Black Mage: Also available after reaching Chemist Level 2 and also sporting its trademark pointy hat, blue robe and shadowy face with glowing yellow eyes, this is the offensive counterpart of the Priest/White Mage and the first job on the ‘damage’ branch. It has the best magic stat and magic growth of all generic jobs and is therefore supremely suited for damage. It can equip rods and robes, and its Black Magic(ks) Action Ability includes elemental spells, as well as some negative status spells, even though the Oracle/Mystic is more of a specialist in that domain. Its Reaction Ability, Magic(k) Counter, will allow it to counterattack with the same spell it was attacked with, although this can prove counterproductive with enemies that have the Reflect status or absorb the element in question. Its Support Ability, Magic Attack Up/Arcane Strength, is a lot more useful, granting a whopping 33% boost to magic power (be it curative or offensive) and raising the success rate of status spells. Taking Wizard/Black Mage to Level 2 unlocks Time Mage and taking it to Level 4 is part of unlocking Calculator/Arithmetician.
Oracle/Mystic: Available after reaching Priest/White Mage Level 2 and dressed in yellow/orange robes with a distinct Chinese vibe, this is the status specialist job. It can equip poles, rods, staves, books and light armour, with the added perk that poles reach across two tiles and can thus bypass enemy Reaction Abilities like Counter. Its Action Ability is called Yin-Yang Magic/Mystic Arts and is comprised of status-affecting spells. These are less useful than actual damaging spells and have rather low success rates. However, Spell Absorb/Empowerment (drains enemy MP), and Pray Faith/Belief (maxes out Faith for one battle) can be very handy for keeping up a character’s mana supply or allowing your mages to deal more damage. Petrify/Induration can also help against undead, to stop them from resurrecting. Other than that, you’ll get a lot more mileage out of Beowulf. The Oracle/Mystic’s Reaction Ability, Absorb (Used) MP, can potentially be interesting in battles against mages, as it will absorb the same amount of MP as the caster used for their spell. Its Support Ability, Defense Up/Defense Boost is less questionably useful, especially in battles against melee units. Taking Oracle/Mystic to Level 3 unlocks Mediator/Orator and is part of unlocking Calculator/Arithmetician.
Time Mage: Available after reaching Wizard/Black Mage Level 2 and sporting purple robes and conical red hats, this job specialises in space/time related status magic. It can equip staves and robes. Its Action Ability, Time Magic(ks), includes various handy spells like Haste, Slow or Stop. It can also learn Meteor, but that requires an ungodly amount of JP and has a huge CT. The Time Mage also has the very useful Support Ability Short Charge/Swiftness, which reduces CT, and the Movement Ability Teleport, which will attempt to transport it directly to the tile of its choice. It will work with any height (like Ignore Height/Ignore Elevation), which can be extremely handy, but is more problematic if you move horizontally: it will work if you move within the Time Mage’s own movement range, but has an additional 10% failure rate for every tile you move outside of that range. And if it fails, the character won’t move at all for that turn, which can mean trouble. Taking Time Mage to Level 3 unlocks Summoner and is part of unlocking Calculator/Arithmetician.
Mediator/Orator: Available after reaching Oracle/Mystic Level 2 and dressed in pink robes and mitres, this is a somewhat unorthodox job with limited usefulness and pretty bad stats. Its Action Ability is called Talk Skill/Speechcraft and basically involves chatting to the enemies to inflict various status effects. While this is rather similar to the Oracle/Mystic, Praise and Preach (which raise Brave(ry) and Faith, respectively) have permanent effects, which can be very useful. The job’s main use, however, is to recruit monsters via its Invitation/Entice spell, if you intend to dabble in poaching, or simply want some powerful critters (like a Tiamat) on your side. The Mediator/Orator can equip guns, knives (not staves or rods, contrary to what its artwork suggests) and robes. Taking the Mediator/Orator to Level 4 is part of unlocking Mime and taking it to Level 5 is part of unlocking Bard.
Summoner: Available after reaching Time Mage Level 3 and sporting its typical green cloaks and red horned headbands, this job can call on a wide selection of magical creatures with its Summon (Magic) Action Ability. It can equip staves, rods and robes, and has the highest MP gain of any generic job. Its spells are mostly offensive, but Mogri/Moogle and Fairy are curative, Silf/Sylph causes Silence, Carbunkle/Carbuncle grants Reflect and Golem absorbs some damage. While the spells take longer to cast and a lot of JP to learn, they have a larger area of effect than a Priest/White Mage’s or a Wizard/Black Mage’s, and there’s no risk of friendly fire. Most of them are learned the regular way, but Zodiac/Zodiark, the most powerful offensive spell, can only be learned on the last floor of the Deep Dungeon/Midlight’s Deep, by having a Summoner survive it being cast on them by Elidib(u)s. The Summoner’s Support Ability, Half (of) MP can also be marginally useful, if you’re having mana issues. Taking Summoner to Level 4 is part of unlocking Mime and taking it to Level 5 is part of unlocking Bard.
Calculator/Arithmetician: Available after reaching Level 3 as a Time Mage and Oracle/Mystic and dressed in blue and orange/yellow outifts with a buckled leather front, this is probably the most unique job on the roster. It can equip poles, books and light armour, but, to be blunt, you don’t want to take it into a fight. It has poor stats and is extremely slow. On the other hand, it provides the most obscene secondary skillset in the game. Its Action Ability is called Math Skill/Arithmeticks and consists of a set of parameters (CT, Height, Level and EXP) and a set of multipliers (Prime, 3, 4 and 5). Say it learns Level and 3: it can then target EVERY unit whose current Level is a multiple of 3 with almost any spell, cast instantly for 0MP. The downside is that it will hit allies and enemies indiscriminately, but there are ways to work around that. It also has Damage Split/Soulbind as a Reaction Ability, which splits any damage incurred with whoever inflicted it. Its Support Ability is Gained EXP Up/EXP Boost, which is self-explanatory, and its Movement Abilities are Move-Get EXP/Accrue EXP and Move-Get JP/Accrue JP, which can come in handy if you’re quickly trying to bring a character up to scratch. The real question, however, is how to level this job, since it’s worthless in actual combat. For generic units, this is easy: you can send them on bar propositions/errands. Things are more complicated for unique characters (e.g. Reis); in that case, you have to do it the hard way. But, while it may be a hassle, Reis + Math Skill/Arithmeticks = mass destruction.
Bard: The other gender-specific job, available after reaching Level 5 with both Summoner and Mediator/Orator on a male character, despite the fact that male characters are better at melee than magic. Its outfit is a rather nondescript mix of muddy brown and orange with a green cape, and it can equip robes and musical instruments. The Bard is a support job that works just like the Dancer and has the same low stats. Where Dancer was geared for offence, Bard is entirely defensive, as its Action Ability, Sing/Bardsong, grants a variety of beneficial effects or stat boosts to every party member. The effects last for several turns and stack, just like with the Dancer, which is pretty nifty. The downside, again, just as with the Dancer, is that the Bard will be tied up singing during that time and thus be unable to do anything else, which makes it extremely vulnerable and, unlike the Dancer, its weapons don’t give it any parrying advantage if it does happen to get attacked. However, it has an extremely useful Movement Ability in Move+3, which is something female characters in the original game are deprived of and can only obtain from Dark Knight in WotL (i.e. it takes a LOT of work).
Mime: The last job on the roster and the one that takes most work to unlock: it requires Level 8 as both a Squire and a Chemist, and Level 5 as a Geomancer, Lancer/Dragoon, Mediator/Orator and Summoner. So 3 physical and 3 magic jobs. Needless to say, you want a character with balanced stats to undertake this, if you want to undertake it at all. The Mime wears a yellow outfit with a mask that evokes mimicry–a myna (a type of talking bird) for male characters, a fox (notorious shapeshifters in Asian mythology) for female ones–and…can’t equip anything. It also has no abilities of its own. On the other hand, it has the same mobility and speed as a Ninja, and the highest stat growth of all generic jobs, as well as Brawler, Monster Skill/Beastmaster and Concentrate/Concentration as innate traits. Meaning that it can fight with its bare hands, will allow any neighbouring monsters to know extra skills and deliver unblockable attacks. The Mime can only use melee attacks on its own turns, but whenever one of your units does something, the Mime will repeat that action on the next turn, in the direction that they are facing. This means that it will get as many extra turns as you have characters on the field, but you would have to use your other characters as ‘puppeteers’ to get some use out of it. E.g: one character attacks a square to their left; the Mime will proceed to do the same, but if there’s no enemy to its left, then it’s useless. This is less problematic with mages and can actually be useful with Dancers or Bards. But really, there’s so much work required to make a Mime function adequately in a party that you’re better off using other jobs and/or characters.