During character creation players may choose one of three career paths they wish to follow (Tactical, Engineering, Science). Like the player's race, a career path is a permanent choice that cannot be altered later in game.
Although each career path offers certain bonuses towards specific play-styles in space and ground combat (e.g., damage dealing, or healing, or robustness), character roles are not very rigidly defined in Star Trek Online, and any character may fly any ship, wear any uniform, and equip almost any item (the only career-specific items being kits). Although Bridge Officers are likewise categorized into the three career paths, they solely determine the pool of abilities they have access to.
In general, career specific elements in Star Trek Online encompass:
- Kits: Kit frames & modules are career path-specific, equipable items granting the player ground abilities.
- Career-specific traits: A set of four special traits is added to the pool of selectable traits depending on the player's career path (see below).
- Career-specific abilities: Each player is granted a set of ten career-specific abilities, five for space, and five for ground combat.
- Career-specific craftable Training Manuals: Depending on the career path as well as allocation of skill points, a player can craft a specific set of Training Manuals, which can teach Bridge Officers of the same career path new abilities; some of these manuals are not obtainable otherwise.
- Career-specific mission objectives: Certain missions in the game offer career path-specific objectives (a purely cosmetic "gimmick").
- Space: Tactical Officers have a considerable edge in Damage Dealing due to their unique tactical abilities (Attack Pattern Alpha, Fire on my Mark and Tactical Initiative give them an edge in damage dealing).
- Ground combat, tactical kits give powers that allow the player to put out increased damage as well as spike damage (one-time concentrated bursts of firepower), AoE (Area of Effect) damage via grenades, and abilities that improve the damage output and staying power of allies.
- Unique traits
- Crippling Fire (Space): Your Critical Hits reduce your target's Accuracy.
- Last Ditch Effort (Space): During Go Down Fighting, +Res from attacking
- Situational Awareness (Ground): Grenade powers you use will expose their targets.
- Strike Team Specialist (Ground): Attacking targets gives +Crit Chance
- Space: Engineers are slightly better Tanks, due to their special abilities, such as Rotate Shield Frequency and Miraculous Repairs.
- Ground: Engineering kits generally involve fabricating turrets, medical generators and shields, supporting your team with weapon buffs and seeker as well as support drones, and laying mine barriers and bombs.
- Unique traits
- EPS Manifold Efficiency (Space): Batteries give a secondary boost to all subsystems.
- Grace Under Fire (Space): Taking damage can reset the recharge on Miraculous Repairs.
- Nanomolecular Architect (Ground): Turrets & drones gain health regeneration and increased damage resistance rating
- Shield Harmonic Resonance (Ground): Being attacked gives you +Res
- Space: Science officers have a slight edge as "Buffer/Debuffer" roles, due to their unique abilities, such as Sensor Scan, Subnucleonic Beam and Dampening Field.
- Ground: Science kits offer team healing and AoE (Area of Effect) damage, but can also grant abilities that control or debuff enemy resiliency, damage and movement.
- Unique traits
- Conservation of Energy (Space): +Exotic Damage.
- Photonic Capacitor (Space): Reduces Photonic Fleet Cooldown
- Field Researcher (Ground): +Damage to Debuffed targets.
- Medical Vanguard (Ground): Your Buffs and Heals now also strengthen Shields.
Character development in Star Trek Online