What Is a Proficiency Bonus and How Does It Work in D&D 5e?

Every character and class in D&D 5e, such as Monsters, Barbarians, Fighters, and Rangers, get the Proficiency Bonus. It is added to the skills, weapons, and tools you are proficient with and increases as you level up in the game. You can add a Proficiency Bonus to attack rolls checks with weapons or proficient tools. Still, some D&D players do not know what a Proficiency Bonus actually is and how to determine it correctly in the game?

This article will guide you on everything about the Proficiency Bonus: what it is, how it works, how to calculate it, and other needy information related to the Proficiency Bonus.

Proficiency Bonus in D&D 5e?

In general, proficiency means being good at something. A Proficiency Bonus is a standard measurement of character proficiency that, by the PHB’s regulations, is attached to abilities, weapons, and equipment and steadily rises with the character’s level. A black dot in front of your skills or weapons indicates that you are proficient with that skill or weapon, and if you use them, you will get a proficiency bonus according to your level. If you are a 1st-level character, you will get a +2 proficiency bonus. 

Many players often assume that proficiencies and proficiency bonus are the same things, but NO, your proficiency bonus is a modifier (like +2), while proficiencies refer to skills, tools, and weapons with which you are supposed to be proficient.

Now that you are familiar with the proficiency bonus let us see how it works and how to calculate it in the game.

How Do You Determine Your Proficiency Bonus in D&D?

A Proficiency Bonus is a bonus stand number that increases every four levels that displays your progress in a particular skill. From level 1 to level 4, it is +2. From level 5 to level 8, it is +3. After each 4-level advancement, the proficiency bonus is increased by 1, and the maximum level you can reach is level 20 with a maximum Proficiency Bonus of +6. 

Your proficiency bonus applies to many of the numbers that you record on your character sheet, which are:

  • Attack rolls using weapons in which you are proficient
  • Ability checks using skills in which you are proficient
  • Ability checks using tools in which you are proficient
  • Saving throws in which you are proficient
  • Saving throw DCs for spells you cast

Your Proficiency Bonus does not add to a single die roll or other numbers more than once. Usually, it could be modified (doubled up or halved) before applying it to any weapons tool. However, there can be a few exceptions where you could apply it more than once to the same die roll.

Apart from that, you can only add it once, multiply it once, and halve it once during the die roll.

For eg- a 5th-level Fighter wielding a greatsword and has a strength 18 (modifier +4) makes an attack roll with 1d20+4 (strength modifier) +3 (proficiency bonus) would get total bonus of (+7): 1d20+4+3 = 1d20+7.

Proficiency Bonus table based on Character Advancement

Experience Points  LevelProficiency Bonus
0+2
3002+2
9003+2
2,7004+2
6,5005+3
14,0006+3
23,0007+3
34,0008+3
48,0009+4
64,00010+4
85,00011+4
1,00,00012+4
1,20,00013+5
1,40,00014+5
1,65,00015+5
1,95,00016+5
2,25,00017+6
2,65,00018+6
3,05,00019+6
3,55,00020+6

Calculating Proficiency Bonus

The formula for calculating Proficiency Bonus is: [2 +(Total level-1/4)] Rounded down, and another one is: [1 + (Total level/4) Rounded up. You can use any of them because both will give the same results. 

Formula for Proficiency Bonus vs level/CR (Challenge Rating): [2 + CR/4], If CR=0 and [1+ CR/4], If CR>0

For example, for a creature at level 5 (or CR 5), the proficiency bonus could be calculated: 1+5/4 = 3 (rounded up to the next higher number).

Note – We always round up to the next greater integer for rounding up when we use the formula 1+CR/4, and we round down to the previous lower integer when we use the formula 2 + CR/4. 

When Do You Add the Proficiency Bonus?

According to the PHB, chapter 1, page 12, A spot on the character sheet is there to mark your Proficiency Bonus. For example, while preparing your character sheet, you can fill in the circle next to skills or weapons you are trained in to remind you that you are proficient in those skills or weapons, and when you use them, you gain the proficiency bonus. Always remember that Proficiency Bonus never applies to damage rolls.

For instance, let us assume you are in a forest and come across a large pit, and you would like to leap over it to gain some time. Your DM asks you to make a Strength (Athletics) check since it requires Athletics skills to accomplish the jump. Suppose you have proficiency in Athletics (circle filled in front of it). You will add your Proficiency Bonus instead of the normal modifier to get the higher bonus points. 

At level 1, you have a +2 proficiency bonus, and suppose you have a +3 modifier in Athletics, your Strength (Athletics) roll would be 1d20+5, which means a total of 3+2 = +5 bonus. Anybody would want to add a +5 bonus rather than a +2 modifier, so that is when you use a proficiency bonus with skills in which you are proficient, or use it whenever you are proficient with a particular skill or weapon.

FAQs

Does the Resilient Feat Give You Proficiency in the Skills Associated With the Chosen Ability?

No, the Resilient feat does not give you proficiency with the chosen ability. According to the PHB, page 167, the Resilient feat gives you proficiency in saving throws using the chosen ability. Your skills and ability checks are separate mechanics, which require their proficiency from a source (background, race, class). However, if you choose the ability to be resilient in was an odd number, the feat could increase the selected ability score by one. It could also improve your modifier by one as you reach the next even value level. 

How Can You Gain Proficiency in a Skill After Level 1?

Sometimes players could not find a way to gain proficiency in a skill after level 1. Can you gain proficiency from multi-classing?

If you have proficiency in 4 out of 9 skills, it is sufficient for you because it is a party game, where one player should not have all the skills to create a balance in the game. However, you can still consult your DM to allow you to multi-class to gain skills, such as Bard, Ranger, or Rogue. You can become proficient in three different skills, weapons, or items using the feat “Skilled.”

In Xanathar’s Guide for Everything, Only a Human, Half-Orc, or Half-Elf can gain the proficiency skills or other things given by a Prodigy feat. A bard ability in the college of lore allows you to learn 3 additional skills at level 3 and become proficient in those skills. However, the current downtime rules permit you to gain proficiency in tools and not skills.

How Do I Figure Out How Many Proficiencies I Get at Level 1?

You can calculate the total proficiencies you can gain at level 1 while creating a new character. You gain skill proficiency from three sources:

Class

  • You gain 2 skill proficiencies at level 1, and Rogues get four skill proficiencies from 9 skills (Acrobatics, Athletics, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Investigation, Perception, Performance, Persuasion.
  •  You gain Sleight of Hand, stealth, and +1 proficiency in Thieves tools.

Race

  • Only a few races give skill proficiency like the Keen Senses trait of an Elf

Background

  • The “Customising a Background” portion of the Backgrounds section in the basic rules of PHB, page 126, states that all background gives +2 skill proficiencies. 

Total Proficiency bonus:

  • You gain +4 proficiency from choosing four proficiencies from a total of 9 proficiencies available for a Rogue class.
  • Now +1 is added from Keen Senses trait proficiency from an Elf. 
  • (Criminal) The background gives +2 proficiencies (Deception and Strength).
  • Level 1 Rogue class feat (Rogue’s Expertise) allows you to add expertise in two proficiencies, but you cannot add it, but only double your proficiency bonus in one of the skills in which you are proficient.
  • You may compute your proficient bonus as follows: 4+1+2 = +7 bonus.

Does Gaining an Armor Proficiency From Your Class Also Give You the Ability Score Increase From the Corresponding Armor Proficiency Feat?

No, armor proficiency from your class does not give you the ability score increase because when you start with an armor proficiency, you do not have the feat that would grant you the proficiency. Feats are an optional rule in D&D 5e only if your DM allows them. Humans are the only characters to get a feat at level 1 based on the PHB rules that state that any other character can take a feat when they gain the Ability Score Improvement class feature, only if they are allowed to use the feats. 

When Multiclassing in 5E, Do You Get Proficiency in the New Class’s Saving Throws and Skills?

No, you do not acquire proficiency in the new class saving throws and skills as stated in the multi-classing rules:

When you gain a level in a class other than your first class, you gain only some starting proficiencies of that class depicted in the Multi-classing Proficiencies Table. 

ClassProficiencies Gained
BarbarianShields, simple Weapons, Martial Weapons
BardLight armor, one skill of your choice, one musical instrument of your choice
ClericLight armor, Medium armor, Shields
DruidLight armor, Medium armor, Shields (druid will not wear armor or use a metal shield)
FighterLight armor, Medium armor, Shields, Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons
MonkSimple Weapons, shortswords
PaladinLight armor, Medium armor, Shields, Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons
RangerLight armor, Medium armor, Shields, Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons, one skill from the class’s skill list
RogueLight armor, one skill from the class’s skill list, thieves tools
Sorcerer
WarlockLight armor, Simple Weapons
Wizard

When you are multiclass into Druid, you only gain proficiencies with light armor, medium armor, and shields (not made of metal), but you already have it from Barbarian class. It is noteworthy that no class grants you proficiencies from saving throws while multiclassing, and only Bards, Rangers, and Rogues allow any skill proficiencies.

Related-

Is Strength Modifier Also Added With Proficiency Bonus in Attack Roll?