There are a number of distinct roles that players can take on. Roles do not require prior experience or skills to take part in - by obtaining the necessary equipment anyone can perform any role. Trading, smuggling, exploring, mining, bounty hunting, and pirating are the six main roles. Frontier Developments have stated that they want all roles to be equally profitable.
Starport bulletin boards will often offer missions that require little or no cargo space and can be an easy (albeit low) source of income. Missions that require no cargo space will be marked with one horizontal arrow pointing right whereas courier missions that require some cargo space are marked with a cargo container and an arrow pointing to the right. Missions that have two horizontal arrows going left and right require you to buy the stated cargo and return to the port with it. Accepted missions can be turned in (completed) by travelling to the mission's destination and using the starport bulletin board there.
- Main article: Courier
Trading is the act of buying commodities at a low price and selling them for a higher price. In Elite: Dangerous the Galaxy Map can help traders determine profitable trade routes by providing purchasable market data as well as displaying NPC trade routes and economy types. As profitable as it can be to haul cargo around the galaxy, pirates abound and, depending on the system, can be a major hazard for traders who are not prepared.
- Main article: Trader
Exploring is a (mostly) lonely and time consuming job. The profitability depends on how much undiscovered data the player has to sell and, when the system is all but unknown, the profit can be quite substantial. Starting from game's version 1.1, it will display tag with commander's name alongside astronomical object to indicate which person first discovered and sold this exploration data to authorities. However, you are still able to explore said star system and make credits regardless. *When you discover/explore a region/planet, you must travel at least 20ly away from that location in order to sell that particular data.
- Main article: Explorer
Mining in Elite: Dangerous is very manual as the player must use a mining laser to chip off pieces of an asteroid to then scoop up to be refined on-board. For newer players mining can be a good way to learn ship control, operation of the cargo scoop, and how to interact with the control panel in flight. Pilots of large ships are able to use collection drones to automate the fragments collection process.
- Main article: Miner
Smugglers are similar to traders except that they sell goods where it is illegal, on the black market. Smugglers have to use stealth, cunning and special equipment to outwit the Police and sometimes military authorities, especially around stations, to sell their goods at a profit while escaping fines and a criminal record. Smugglers can also be a special case of couriers, where the player is asked to transport forbidden items.
- Main article: Smuggler
Pirates naturally earn combat ranking by attacking and destroying other ships. The primary motivation for pirates is the cargo carried by their prey. Pirates use powerful weaponry and their fearsome reputations to encourage traders to hand over their goods.
- Main article: Pirate
Mercenary work is found at starport bulletin boards which send the player to fight at Conflict Zones and warzones. In zones with active fighting a mercenary can find near constant work.
- Main article: Mercenary
An assassin requires flight experience and solid equipment as their targets are highly dangerous. The payout for taking down targets can be extremely rewarding, but make sure to never underestimate the enemy - their bounties are large for a reason.
- Main article: Assassin
Space is a rough place and there are plenty of pirates in the anarchy systems who need to be retired. The bounty hunter takes advantage of the in-game bounty system, earning credits and combat rank for destroying wanted ships. Bounty hunters specialize in lethal, offensively-focused ships which are capable of reliably destroying their prey.
- Main article: Bounty Hunter
Cruise Ship Captain Edit
Ships can be equipped with passenger cabins to transport passenger. Passengers can be housed in cabin's of equal or higher quality than their requirement. The types are economy, business, first, luxury. All VIP passengers will occupy an entire cabin regardless of how many members are in their party. They will occupy the cabin until the mission is completed or dropped. Non-VIP passengers are housed by seat rather than cabin. This means you can store multiple groups in one cabin or even split the groups among different cabins.
- Main article: Space Tourism
Multicrew is an upcoming update coming to Elite Dangerous: Horizons. Multicrew will make it possible to join a seat of another commander's ship or let others join your ship, which can be done by being in a Wing. With Multicrew making use of Wings, you can only have up to 3 people in a ship which has enough seats. It is also said that 3 people in a Multicrew set-up will perform similarly to a wing of 3 ships. You will be able to control either the Helm (Piloting), Gunner (turreted weapons), Fighter con (two ship launched fighters).
- Main article: Multicrew
A scavenger is a minor role to retrieve Cargo Canisters found in space, salvageable wrecks or on a celestial body's surface, using a Cargo Scoop. Whether retrieving an item is legal or not can be seen by the GUI text that appears when targeting it - either "Legal Salvage" or "Illegal Salvage".
Cargo that a player both jettisons and abandons becomes legal salvage, while if they only jettison it it's illegal salvage for everyone but them. Cargo that is already marked as stolen can only be jettisoned.