Skill Expert 5E: DnD Feat Guide

Skill Expert is a wonderful 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons feat that is not only versatile but offers surprising strength and roleplaying opportunities in the right circumstances. Take the following story as an example of why the 5E Skill Expert feat can rock:

Jovially the bard laughs before accepting more free drinks, her performance unequalled as always, her performance skill well beyond what anyone would consider merely proficient. The rogue shows off his own eye-popping acrobatics in tune to the bard’s catchy song. The wise cleric’s focused perception notices pale skin untouched in a circle around both their ring fingers, and the performance comes to a halt after

“Good catch,” the bard compliments him, eyebrow arching high in curiosity.

“What?” he asks. “You’re not the only skilled experts in this room.”

While expertise has long been the special bonus of rogues and bards to sneak, perform, or otherwise cause havoc to their heart’s content (nothing like adding a +12 to a +17 to a specialty skill roll at level 20)

Skill Expert is a 5E feat that gives a +1 to any ability score, proficiency in a skill of your choice, and the Expertise trait (usually reserved for bards and rogues) to double the proficiency bonus to one proficient skill of your choice.

This is an excellent feat that looks good at first glance, but a deep dive might show it’s even better (or more versatile) than you even believed at first glance.

So let’s dive in!

sneaky seal rogue stealthing
Seal rogue, Expert stealth, waiting for the fisherman to loosen his grip on that fishing net.

Breaking Down the Skill Expert Feat

Let’s start out with the Skill Expert feat as written word-by-word from Tasha’s.

Directly from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything:

You have honed your proficiency with particular skills, granting you the following benefits:

  • Increase one ability score of your choice by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You gain proficiency in one skill of your choice.
  • Choose one skill in which you have proficiency. You gain expertise with that skill, which means your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make with it. The skill you choose must be one that isn’t already benefiting from a feature, such as Expertise, that doubles your proficiency bonus.

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, p.80

Let’s break down each benefit in detail, because there is a LOT here to look at!

Benefit #1: Increase one ability score of your choice by 1, to a maximum of 20.

This is an okay benefit, which minimizes the damage from taking a feat as opposed to an ability score improvement. I actually like this one quite a bit, because it gives a +1 to ANY ability score, the versatility of which is outstanding. The fact that the following two benefits don’t need to be tied to this ability score increase makes it even better in my book because you can split the benefits of this feat as you see fit.

This makes it one of the few feats with a +1 that can be used to upgrade a secondary ability score without weakening or hobbling your character’s build or use of this feat (Yay +1 to an even number for that CON score!).

Benefit #2: You gain proficiency in one skill of your choice.

This proficiency can be taken with any skill, regardless of what ability score attached to it is. So you can keep them the same, like a +1 DEX and proficiency taken in Acrobatics, or you can split it like a +1 CON and proficiency taken in Perception.

This is a great way to fix a skill that you desperately want to upgrade in your campaign while rounding out an odd-number ability score that may or may not be one of your “main” one or two stat attributes.

Benefit #3: Gain expertise with one skill with which your are proficient, doubling the proficiency bonus for that skill. This must be a skill that isn’t already affected by expertise.

Most people on first reading assume that this must be the feat that you just gained proficiency in. While that can 100% be the case and is a great way to take one skill and just master it with a single level up, there’s also the option of gaining a new proficiency and then becoming an expert in a different skill that you’re already proficient in.

This is an outstanding benefit and one that can be extremely powerful, as anyone who has ever played a rogue or a bard can tell you.

rock n roll bard
Stupid showy bard, I’ll show him who’s good enough to be a skill expert!

5E Classes That Should Take the Skill Expert Feat

Honestly every class can justify taking this feat. It’s an outstanding option, and any class looking for extreme proficiency in one specific skill should definitely look at taking the skill expert feat from Tasha’s.

In addition the two classes that are consistently built to be skill monkeys are a natural for this feat, and that’s bards and rogues.

Rogues already get Expertise as a class feature and although they can’t double expertise on any one proficiency, the ability to add another proficiency and another expertise in addition to a +1 ability is a great way to use that extra feat that rogues get to become even more of a do everything skill monkey nightmare for the DM.

Bards are the other class that get Expertise and often play the roll of do-it-all skill monkey. Since they technically only need to be especially strong in one ability stat, they can forego additional ability score increases for feats and adding more proficiency and expertise makes them a natural for this feat.

These are clear examples of the rich getting even richer, but when it comes to having incredibly skilled PCs, that’s never a bad thing for the party!

5th Ed Classes that should always take the Skill Expert Feat:

  • Bards
  • Rogues
  • Any class looking for extreme proficiency in one skill

5E Classes That Should Consider Taking the Skill Expert Feat

All of them. This is one of the very few feats where you can justify taking it no matter what class you are (right now only Alert and Lucky come to mind as also having those traits) and so every single class is going to appear on this list.

This feat can be used to double down on a strength, or one way I’ve seen it used very effectively is to focus on one skill you really wish you had but aren’t built for. Give the fighter proficiency and then expertise in perception, or have the face take deception. There are many ways that a skill with a secondary trait can be added to a character that had just been suffering to that point to fix an obvious weakness.

Sometimes expertise is used to double up on the strongest skill, add proficiency to another, and then +1 Con to then next even number for more HP and a better bonus.

In other words, this is a versatile feat that is flexible and designed to work around your needs whatever your build.

This is a great feat and one that can fit in with pretty much any build.

5th Ed Classes that should consider taking the Skill Expert Feat:

  • Artificers
  • Barbarians
  • Bards
  • Clerics
  • Druids
  • Fighters
  • Monks
  • Paladins
  • Rangers
  • Rogues
  • Sorcerers
  • Warlocks
  • Wizards

5E Classes That Should NEVER Take the Skill Expert Feat

While skill expert might not have a lot of “sex appeal” compared to other major feats that Tasha’s has rolled out, it’s sheer versatility is incredible and because of the multiple benefits that this feat provides, it’s a feat that every single class can use and use effectively. Because of this, there are no classes that are on the “Never take this feat” list.

This puts this feat in a very rare class, and while there are many builds where you might decide to specialize in another direction, a level up that uses this feat is not a wasted level.

5th Ed classes that should never take the Skill Expert Feat:

  • None

Final Feat Grade for 5E Skill Expert

Skill Expert Feat Grade: A

Is the 5E Skill Expert Feat Worth It?

This skill isn’t an A because of its sheer power, though in the right build it offers plenty of power. This is because it is one of the few feats that is useful for any class, any build, and can be used to increase a strength, patch up a weakness, or sometimes do both at the same time. The skill expert feat is one of the best in all of 5E D&D and deserves its extremely high grade.

Skill Expert Feat FAQ

Is there a feat for expertise 5E?

Thanks to Tasha’s Guide to Everything, there is. The Skill Expert feat grants expertise, among other boons. For DMs who use the seldom-used racial feats from Xanatahar’s, Prodigy has the same effect.

Is there a feat that gives you expertise?

Skill Expert grants expertise, and Prodigy from Xanathar’s also grants expertise for the three races allowed to take this racial feat from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

Can you take skill expert multiple times?

No. Feats can only be taken once unless otherwise noted, and the Skill Expert feat does not state that it can be taken more than once.

Can only rogues get expertise?

No, bards also can take expertise, and any player taking the skill expert feat can also gain expertise in 5E D&D.

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