There are two main ways for players to level up gathering professions in Swtor. The first method is the old fashion way, which is to run around and actually gather the items yourself, leveling the skill up quickly as you run around many different planets and look for nodes. The second way which is suited for people who are beyond the point of lazy is to use their crew members and send them out on missions to go gather resources or them.
When the crew member comes back from a mission they will hand you whatever items they managed to dig up and you will be rewarded with a skillup in that skill. Each mission's time depends on what level mission it is and what Crew Skill you are doing them as. For example, low level missions will take roughly 5 minutes each and higher level ones will take on average of 35 minutes max. This only applies to gathering skills though, mission crew skills on the other hand take much longer. Depending on what your level is and how many crew members you have, will determine how many people you can send out on missions.
As you could imagine if you combine collecting resources with sending your crew members out on missions, you will level whatever gathering tradeskill you're working on extremely fast.
For the first 100 levels of Archaeology you will want to run all Rank 1 missions up until Rank 2 missions become unlocked around skill level 60. This bracket will take about an hour to do if you have 5 Companions running missions for you all with high affection levels. It's also strongly recommended that you choose the missions that take the least amount of time. For every Gathering/Mission Tradeskill there are missions that take two different sets of time. There are six missions for each level bracket, one will take twice as long as the other.
When it comes to just leveling professions as quickly as possible you will want to always pick the shorter missions. If you have 5 Companions then pick 3 of the shorter missions from the highest rank mission bracket you have unlocked and 2 from the rank just under. This will maximize the time spent and give you the most skill points for least time spent.
As for what to do with all of the companion items you recieve through Archaeology; I recommend feeding them to your companion. To see a giant list of what each companion likes click here.
15,000 Credits (Sell the materials you gather for almost all of your money back)
Time Required To Level: An hour to an hour and a half
At the very start of this bracket you will want to run short-timed Rank 2 missions and an occasional Rank 1 mission that is still yellow or red (meaning it will give a skill up). Starting around 120 you will unlock some Rank 3 missions which you will want to run for pretty much this entire bracket. When you first unlock the Rank 3 missions start by running all of the ones available to you while mixing them with the Rank 2 missions that still reward skill ups. By about 150 to 160 you will be running mostly all Rank 3 missions (even the ones that take longer to run, because at this point Rank 4 missions aren't available and Rank 2 missions are all grey.
Once your skill reaches 190 you will unlock the Rank 4 missions. You should know what to do by now, keep running high Rank 3 missions and the low Rank 4 missions to maximize time/money spent. You won't have to worry about running the very long Rank 4 missions until about 240/250, that's when most of the Rank 3 missions go gray.
Time Required To Level: Two hours
Most of this bracket will be spent leveling your crew skill through the Rank 4 missions which continue through this bracket all the way up until about 270. Once your skill reaches 270 you will unlock Rank 5 missions, which start to reward you with a ton of very good selling items. For all mission Crew Skills Rank 5 missions are the first set of missions that will reward you with Rank 5 Companion Gifts. Granted most of them are green for this bracket and not blue or epic, the point is that they still grant your companions affection!
As always for this entire bracket focus on the missions that don't take a lot of time to do. The missions that take 13 minutes will be the main ones you want to run, ignore the 20 minute missions until you have absolutely no choice anymore. Once you unlock the Rank 5 missions around 270 skill level you will want to run a mixture of Rank 4 and Rank 5 missions to maximize your chance at a skill up. You could actually stay with Rank 4 missions for a little bit longer if you wanted too as they take half the time of the next rank's slowest missions.
Once you reach 300 it's onto the home stretch!
50,000 Credits (Sell the materials you gather for almost all of your money back)
Time Required To Level: Four to Five Hours
For the very start of this bracket you will be running Rank 5 missions up until you reach 320. At 320 Rank 6 missions will finally unlock for you, which once you can start running Rank 6 missions you will want to run whatever is available in this bracket. Whatever items you get from Rank 6 missions that you can't use, SELL! These materials sell for a ton right now since they are endgame materials and are in extremely high demand. By selling all of the Rank 5 and 6 materials on the Auction House you can make back almost every single Credit spent to raise your crew skill!
As you could have guessed Rank 6 missions take a really long time to level up from doing. Each of the shorter missions you can expect to take 30 minutes each and the longer ones take an hour to do! With max affection the hour long missions only take 53 minutes instead of an hour and 3 minutes or whatever, but it's still a really long time to wait! If you would rather collect other materials while also leveling this Crew Skill than you should only be running the 30 minute missions instead of any of the hour long missions.
Time Required: 15 - 20 Hours
75,000 Credits (Sell the materials you gather for almost all of your money back)
Leveling Archaeology By NOT Running Missions
Archaeology - 1 - 75 Coruscant/Dromund Kass
All around both of these planets you will find hundreds and hundreds of different nodes for you to collect. Most of them will require either a skill of 1 or a skill of 25 in order to gather, but towards the very end of these planets in the 15/16 zones the nodes will start to increase in skill level. In these areas the required skill to gather some of the nodes will be much higher, usually requiring 25 and even sometimes 50. If you gather every node that you see by the time you're done on either Coruscant or Dromund Kass your skill should be between 75 and 100.
On my Jedi Knight, when I left Coruscant I had over 100 Bioanalysis and 100 Scavenging but only 75 Slicing. This leads me to believe that Slicing is the more difficult of gathering skills to level up. Either way before leaving Coruscant or Dromund Kass for Taris, I recommend that you have whatever skill it is that you're leveling to at least 90.
Archaeology - 75 - 140 Taris
The very next planet you will be visiting to raise your profession is Taris. Much like both Coruscant and Dromund Kass, Taris is abundant with nodes for all of the gathering professions. Most of the nodes here can be collected with a skill level of 75 or above but there are a select few that I saw (specifically for Slicing) that require 90. I recommend hanging around the first subzone of Taris to raise your skill up to the 140 point since the resources are all generally require the same skill level regardless of where you go, there isn't much point in venturing far from your ship.
Getting up to 140 in Taris might prove to be a bit time consuming, so if you start having difficulty finding nodes that will raise your skill then start sending your crew out on missions to raise your skill for you. Also if you'd like, you can switch to Nar Shaddaa and gather what resources you find there instead. Nar Shaddaa has a slightly higher minimum requirement though to gather what you find there, I don't recommend going there unless whatever skill you're looking to raise is 120+.
After Taris you will want to head to Nar Shaddaa.
Archaeology 125 - 175 Nar Shaddaa
Nar Shaddaa is the next place you will be leveling up your gathering professions. The best place I have found on Nar Shaddaa for the Republic with the most nodes available to you is the subzone, the one where you need to elimiate the Spice making drug dealers and destroy their labs, the Red Light Sector. Anyone who is playing on The Imperial faction will not be able to come to this area, so despite it being so good you will need to find another place! (Click here if you play on the Empire side. I made a guide just for you!) While doing the quests here I found a super abundance of all different types of nodes, there were literally just hundreds of them everywhere. I took a picture of the upper half of the Red Light Sector, where you will be spending most of your time raising your professions in this bracket.
The whole middle section of the zone doesn't have any nodes in it, mainly because it has all friendly units (For Republic), but once you branch off either east or west you will start finding dozens and dozens of nodes. The room off to the west, around where you need to activate and control the turret was where I found the most nodes but up northeast wasn't too bad either. The node with the highest level restriction that I saw on Nar Shaddaa was a 120 Slicing node. That is the main reason I gave this planet a 120 (at least) restriction, even though staying on Taris until 130 - 140 is what you will most likely be doing.
You will be staying on Nar Shaddaa for pretty much the same amount of time that you spent on Taris, usually around 50 skill points. In other words you will be on Nar Shaddaa until you reach about 175 in whatever profession it is you're raising. Once you've done that it will be time to move on to Tatooine.
Archaeology 175 - 235 Tatooine
This level range is a bit more tricky than the previous ones because of the type of planet Tatooine is. As you probably already know, since Tatooine is one of the most well known planets in all of Star Wars, it is a vast desert wasteland of a planet. This really shows in the game which is both awesome and annoying at the very same time... So we're going to call it annoyingly awesome. Tatooine is a very large planet and without a speeder it would take you hours and hours to raise your skill even a few points. Even with the speeder it is still annoyingly tedious.
There are two solutions to this problem, the first one is you will want to level through this bracket primarily off of sending your crew out on missions, more on this is below. The second solution is to find an area where there are a lot of nodes around for you to gather. Staying in a small controlled area while sending your crew out on missions will net you the best bang for your buck while raising your skills here.
The profession you're looking to raise will be the deciding factor in where you want stay and gather nodes. If you're looking to raise Slicing I recommend any of the Sand People camps in Jundland. If you're looking to raise Archaeology there are a lot of caves around in Jundland as well, up in the northwestern section of the map. There are caves elsewhere with nodes for Archaeology too, but I found these to be the best. Also in this same area you will find a ton of droids to kill, which can be Scavenged if you need to raise that skill as well. Also there are lots of Scavenging nodes around in the area regardless, making it good for both Archaeology and Scavenging.
The only skill that is difficult to raise on Tatooine is Bioanalysis. All nodes that you can gather with Bioanalysis are extremely spread out and rare to come across even then. I recommend raising Bioanalysis mostly by sending your crew out on missions as it is too difficult for you to raise just on your own on Tatooine. If you are looking for a good place to gather up materials though I recommend the sand dunes in western Tatooine, that is where I found quite a few Bioanalysis nodes. Also a second and maybe even better option is to kill animals and gather from their bodies.
Once you reach 235 with whatever skill it is that you're raising you will want to hop back on your ship and take it on over to Alderaan.
Archaeology 235 - 250 Alderaan
Much like Tatooine before it, Alderaan is giant open planet with much room to explore. Unlike Tatooine, Alderaan has a ton of plant life and for this reason has a ton of Bioanalysis nodes all over the place. The largest pack of Bioanalysis nodes that I found were around the "bug people" which are one of the earlier quests you must do on the planet. There were also a decent amount of Archaeology nodes around the bug colonies too, giving off the impression it was a good place to gather both of these items.
As you had to do with Tatooine, I recommend that while you're gathering up the nodes on Alderaan you send your inactive crew members out on missions for whatever skill you're looking to raise. This will halve the time you spend gathering the items despite it costing a bit more. If the cost is a big deal to you though then just completely ignore sending out your crew members and stick to just gathering the raw materials from the planet.
Before you ask, no I didn't forget about you guys out there with Slicing and Scavenging! Leveling up your Slicing and Scavenging skills are just as easy as the Archaeology and Bioanalysis on Alderaan, you just need to know where to go. Luckily, that's why you have me! Alright so, what you will want to be looking for is any settlement of enemies on the planet, doesn't really matter which. As long as their are lots of buildings around and humanoid mobs you can be sure to find heaps of scrap and footlockers to cut into.
Getting your skill to 250 on Alderaan is quite easy and won't take very long to do, once you do reach 300 though we will finally be on the home stretch. Just a few more planets to go for raising our gathering skills! Once you're back on your spacecraft, you will want to be piloting your ship on over to Balmorra.
Archaeology 250 - 280 Balmorra
Balmorra is the very next planet in line for working on your gathering crew skills. During the time I spent in Balmorra I found tons and tons of nodes for all different crew skills pretty much all over the place. The only bad thing about this though is I did not find a single node that was guaranteed to give me a skill up. When I got here everything was already gray or green about to turn gray in a few skill levels. Since it is the next planet you will be going too level wise, it is logical to put it into this guide. However if you're already max and looking back to raise your skills you may want to skip to the very end of Balmorra for the most skill ups or instead just head on over to Quesh.
As with all other planets depending exactly on what skill you're looking to raise will determine where you should go. If you are looking to raise Slicing or Scavenging you will want to stick around man-made settlements but for Bioanalysis and Archaeology you'll want to check elsewhere. This isn't to say that you won't find those nodes in the opposite locations, you will, they are just more uncommon. Since I didn't find many nodes that gave you skill ups here (except for killing the elite bugs during the bonus series... They gave me lots of Bioanalysis skill ups).
Once you reach about 280 it'll be time to leave Balmorra already. You have two options for which planet you would like to go to next, either Hoth, Quesh, Belsavis, or Voss.
Archaeology 280 - 340 Hoth, Quesh, Balsavis or Voss
The thing about these levels is kind of weird, through my experience with raising the gathering skills each of these planets have all around the same minimum level resources. Give or take 5 - 15 skill points of course. The highest level list of planets on this list is Voss and the highest level gatherable item I saw on Voss was 295. For this reason I actually recommend hoping over to Voss right away if you are of level for the planet, if not you can start with Quesh or Belsavis as they seem to have the most resources for you to gather.
One thing you will need to keep in mind here is Hoth and Quesh will doubtfully take you up to 340 if all you're doing is gathering resources, if you're running missions too then sure they will. But if you start on either of these planets (as starting there with 280 skill is already high) they will only really take you up to 300 - 325 if you're lucky. For this range Belsavis and Voss are by far your best bets. Voss and Belsavis will take you up to 340 but it may be a bit tedious. So if you don't want to do missions you can move on to to the next planet at 325 or 330. Once you reach 340 you'll be moving on to one of the two final planets of Swtor, Corellia or Ilum.
Archaeology 340 - 400 Corellia or Ilum
The final stretch of leveling up your Tradeskill... We're finally here folks! What it takes for these final 60 points is a lot of running around on Ilum or Corellia and gathering materials. Of course I recommend that you do missions through these final points as well to help level them faster but whatever you settle on is your choice. There are nodes for all different Tradeskills all over Corellia and Ilum for you to gather. Some of them are a bit of a pain to get to and should be ignored but others are right out in the open ripe for your picking.
Killing a single pack of mobs to reach a node isn't a big deal so don't be afraid to go and do it. The thing you should try to avoid though are the nodes located in Imperial/Republic camps when you're not of that faction. Those will take a whole lot of killing to reach and just aren't worth your time.
You don't have to worry about that many people on either of these planets this early in the game. What that means is pretty much all of the good nodes will be yours!
I will be making farming paths for Ilum and Corellia when I get a chance.
Materials You Will Be Gathering With Archaeology
This is a list of all the materials you will be gathering with Archaeology. Note how the word gathering stands out, this is because the items that you get from running missions with Archaeology are not in this list as they are not gathered, they are acquired strictly through running missions.
Rubat Crystal - Power Crystal
Blue Amorphous Crystal - Color Crystal
Green Amorphous Crystal - Color Crystal
Red Amorphous Crystal - Color Crystal
Eralam Crystal - Power Crystal
Nextor Crystal - Power Crystal
Blue Igeous Crystal - Color Crystal
Green Igeous Crystal - Color Crystal
Red Igeous Crystal - Color Crystal
Bondar Crystal - Power Crystal
Opila Crystal - Power Crystal
Red Opaque Crystal - Color Crystal
Blue Opaque Crystal - Color Crystal
Green Opaque Crystal - Color Crystal
Firkrann Crystal - Power Crystal
Red Solid Crystal - Color Crystal
Blue Solid Crystal - Color Crystal
Green Solid Crystal - Color Crystal
Phond Crystal - Power Crystal
Damind Crystal - Power Crystal
Green Lucent Crystal - Color Crystal
Blue Lucent Crystal - Color Crystal
Red Lucent Crystal - Color Crystal
Upari Crystal - Power Crystal
Blue Polychromic Crystal - Color Crystal
Red Polychromic Crystal - Color Crystal
Green Polychromic Crystal - Color Crystal