Proficiency bonus is the mechanic that separates 5E from older editions. It’s the universal additive that makes this game so easy to play, and characters so easy to build. But, like a lot of things, proficiency bonuses can be a little weird, especially if you try out multiclassing. Thankfully, proficiency bonuses are much, much easier than you might think! Learn more with our How to Calculate Proficiency Bonus 5E Guide.
How to Calculate Proficiency Bonus 5e
Proficiency bonuses are based on character level, not class level. Whenever you gain a level, you get one step closer to a higher proficiency bonus.
|Proficiency Bonus By Level|
This is consistent amongst any class, any multiclassing option, and every character; If a Rogue and a Fighter swing a Dagger at an enemy, they add the same Proficiency Bonus to that swing. A level 13 Wizard and a level 13 Cleric both add the same Proficiency Bonus to their spell DCs. The only thing that really changes with Proficiency Bonus is what the bonus applies to.
Is This as High as Proficiency Gets?
That’s… usually it. While proficiency is immensely simple, there are a few mechanics that allow you to change how much a proficiency bonus grants you.
Firstly, and most common, is the Expertise abilities. The Bard and Rogue classes gain access to Expertise, allowing them to double their proficiencies for chosen skill checks. So, for those select 2 (to 4) abilities, their ranges change to this;
|Expertise Proficiency Bonus By Level|
Bards and Rogues get crazy with skill checks.
They’re not the only ones, either! Other classes can add double their proficiency bonus, too (usually to only select skill checks) through class features. These push those characters really far ahead on the Skill-check race, as doubling a proficiency bonus can’t be beat by just having a higher stat. You’d need magic items to keep up with someone that adds double proficiency!
The other effect that might alter proficiency is half proficiency. Once again, the Bard slides in with their Jack of All Trades ability, allowing them to add half their proficiency bonus to any skill check that they’re not proficient in. The Champion Fighter adds half proficiency bonus to Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution checks (which does mean you get the below bonus to Initiative!).
|Half Proficiency Bonus By Level|
This is usually just to add to abilities that don’t already have proficiency. A tiny boost like this might let you eek out over the DCs, but is nothing to really care about either.
Look ahead; if your class is about to get half proficiency, and your party doesn’t really need a specific skill check, maybe let half proficiency be “enough.”
See Also: Calculating Passive Perception in 5E
Wrapping Up Proficiency Bonuses
Proficiency isn’t too tricky, but a lot of classes and subclasses can change how it works. And if you multiclass, it makes total sense that you might have been thrown for a loop! Just remember that proficiency is attached to character level, and always increases the same, and you’ll be just fine!
Though, also remember that unless your class says otherwise, you’re stuck with your proficiency bonus on whatever you choose to be proficient with. The limit’s not with the number; it’s what you can take proficiency in! Feats and levels can help you get proficient in more, at least.