Professions are the backbone of World of Warcraft's economy, but they serve more than just the ability to make gold. Professions can provide players with bonuses to improve their damage, survivability or general playstyles. I had a lengthy post written up going into detail what each profession provides before I realised most DPS bonuses from crafting professions are almost the same - 80 Agility. Every crafting profession except Alchemy has a clear-cut 80 Agility bonus only usable by the crafter (well, Jewelcrafting's bonus is actually 81). So if all the bonus are essentially the same are there any professions that may be more useful to a hunter than others in terms of DPS? Well, right now there might be....If a hunter is looking to use professions to help maximize DPS, they would do well to stay clear of gathering professions. Although Skinning provides a DPS bonus in the form of Critical Strike Rating, it doesn't compete with the Agility boosts of crafting professions. As mentioned before Alchemy doesn't provide the 80 Agility bonus but does provide an Alchemist- only Agility trinket. It is only as good as normal raid trinkets, however, so Alchemy is also not the way to go.
Enchanting gets its 80 Agility buff in the form of the Ring Enchant (40 Agility per ring), Blacksmithing through 2 extra-sockets craftable by the blacksmith and Inscription by way of an Inscription-only Shoulder enchant.Other than that they have nothing else to offer that may make them more appealing than other professions, but they are solid choices nonetheless. And Jewelcrafting's extra 1 Agility means in the long run it provides the most DPS and therefore should always be taken (not to mention one hell of a moneymaker, I love me a good shuffle).
The remaining 2 professions, Engineering and Leatherworking, are not quite as clear-cut at this point. Right now these 2 professions would be fantastic choices as second professions, as they provide something, that due to the current state of this expansion, is very enticing indeed.
Leatherworking used to be the best profession for a DPS increase prior to 4.0.6. This was due to its wrist enchant providing 130 Agility. Blizzard realised that this was waaaaaay more than any other profession provided and so decided to introduce new regular enchants providing 50 Agility, thereby cutting the net gain down to a standard 80 Agility. Problem is, this new enchant requires Maelstrom Crystals, and right now on my server they are still going for 2k+ each. The enchant formula itself is costing upwards of 10k on the AH, and those that bought a recipe are charging exuberant fees to those looking. And so its fair to say that a great number of hunters are probably still without their Agility wrist enchant, making those hunters that have LW as their profession breathing a sigh of relief.
Engineering used to belong to the no bonus category that Alchemy currently holds, but in patch 4.0.6 Blizzard decided to change the tinker Synapse Springs to provide 480 Agility for 10 secs, with a 1 minute cooldown, which in turn again translates to a overall 80 Agility gain. But Engineers weren't just able to get Engineer-only tinkers, they could also make engineer only epic helms. And these babies are able to be socketed with the exact secondary stats you are looking for on a piece of loot (i.e. Crit, hit, mastery, haste). This is a huge bonus this early in an expansion for hunters who are not necessarily hardcore raiders and are competing with other hunters and shamans for epic helms (well and Warriors if its a tier helm). And in this expansion Agility Mail helms drop quite late, with the epic helm dropping of Ascendant council, 2nd to last boss in Bastion of Twilight, and the tier helm dropping of Nefarian, the final boss in Blackwing Descent. So having access to an epic helm this early is a decent boost to your DPS for quite some time.
In the long run All professions will even out to provide 80 Agility. Jewelcrafting will provide 1 extra, Alchemy will fade in the distance. Leatherworking and Engineering may have shot out to an early lead in the DPS stakes, but the others will slowly reign them in. Expect leatherworking to be pulled in with the very next patch, 4.1, which will introduce 2 new epics-dropping 5 mans, which are certain to bring the price of Maelstrom crystals down, making the 50 Agility wrist-enchant affordable. Engineering will follow soon after as more and more guilds will make their way to Nefarian and Ascendant Council.
Well that's me for another night, keep on hunting,