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.
- Main article: Courier
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: Trader
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 are a hazard and can differ depending on the system.
- Main article: Explorer
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: Miner
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: Smuggler
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 class of couriers, where the player is asked to transport forbidden items.
- Main article: Pirate
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: Mercenary
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: Assassin
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: Bounty Hunter
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.
Passenger Carrier Edit
- Main article: Passenger Carrier
Passenger Carriers are similar to Traders except they transport paying passengers instead of cargo. Passenger contracts operate in a similar manner to mission board contracts. Ships that are equipped with Passenger Cabins may pick up passengers in the Passenger Lounge available at many stations. There are two main types of passenger contracts: VIP and non-VIP (bulk).
- Main article: Multicrew
Players can serve as crew members on each others' ships, instantly transferring to a secondary bridge position via drop-in, drop-out matchmaking, accessible via an option on the Comms panel. Some ship types can have up to 3 people in Multicrew, controlling either the Helm (Piloting), Gunner (turreted weapons), or Fighter con (two ship launched fighters).
- Main article: Salvage
A scavenger is a minor role to retrieve Cargo Canisters found in space, at 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". Certain Legal Salvage items, such as escape pods and "black box" flight recorders, can be turned in to a station's Search and Rescue contact for a reward.
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.
Infiltrator jobs can be found at various mission boards and require the player to attack or covertly retrieve data packages from a target settlement. Infiltrators are often tasked with attacking a certain quantity of a specific settlement's defence drones known as skimmers, destroying settlement's power grid or obtaining a data package by scanning a settlement's data points via the data link scanner.
Though infiltrator missions offer a high reward, performing these actions is usually illegal and thus often result in a hefty fine or bounty. Since settlements appear on planets, the Horizons expansion is required to complete these missions and the player will likely need an SRV. It should be noted that settlements vary in size and security level.
Support is an informal role in which one player aids another by refueling their ship or repairing its hull. This can be accomplished with the Fuel Transferer for refuels, Repair Limpet drones for hull repairs and the Regeneration Sequence to restore an energy shield. While this role does not guarantee any monetary reward, it can be an interesting and entertaining pursuit on its own. Many explorers often find themselves in need of fuel or repairs while wandering the far reaches of the galaxy, and combat ships can benefit from hull repairs both during and after a battle.