Best D&D Healer Classes, Woman with Magical Aura Standing in a Forest

A Guide to the Best D&D 5e Healer Classes

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Healing in Dungeons & Dragon 5th Edition is a bit of a controversial topic. Yes, the healer is one of the classic D&D party roles, but 5e’s design structure puts less of a focus on healing.
That said, D&D 5e still features a number of classes made with healing in mind. But, which class is the best for healing in 5e?
This article outlines the 10 best D&D healer classes and why each of these choices work well.

Now, as with any ranked list, this is fairly subjective. What I think is the best may differ from someone else’s opinion. That said, I did try to consider both spell access and class features when determining the top classes for healing.

With that out of the way, let’s look at what the best healer class in 5e is.

The Best D&D Healer Classes

Best D&D Healer Class, Close-Up of a Man Wearing a Chainmail Hood

Of D&D 5e’s classes capable of healing others, the Cleric is far and away the best class suited for it. It comes with the most abilities for healing and has a design philosophy around it. That said, many other classes and subclasses are capable of performing well as a healer.

Not only are Clerics one of the most classic D&D healer classes, they’re also the best. They have access to the most number of healing spells in 5e and they have subclass options specifically designed for being the best healer.

That said, they’re not your only option. Many classes and subclasses have healing capabilities and can work quite well if you don’t want to play a Cleric.

The top five healer classes in D&D 5e are:

  1. Cleric
  2. Druid
  3. Bard
  4. Divine Soul Sorcerer
  5. Alchemist Artificer

Now, I know, two of those are actually subclasses, not base classes. But, these subclasses outshine some of the other base classes when it comes to healing.

Each of these classes has access to healing spells (some more than others) and many of them come with built-in features for improving their abilities as a healer. There are other classes which also work well and we’ll get to those later on. But, these are your five best class options for playing a healer in D&D 5e.

With that said, let’s go over each of these (and the five which didn’t make it into the top picks) in a bit more detail so you can understand why they work as a healing class.

Cleric Healers

Statue of a Cleric

The Cleric is the classic healing class in D&D and for good reason. This class has access to every essential healing spells and a few of their subclasses provide the most powerful healing features in the game.

When you think "healer in D&D" you’re probably thinking of the Cleric. A holy player character who often wields radiant energy which many games use for healing magic.

Clerics in 5e have access to the most essential healing spells like healing word and aid and the late-game spells like resurrection and mass heal.

Of the 26 spells tagged as "Healing" in DnD Beyond, Clerics have access to 19, or a little short of three-quarters (~73%) of the healing spells in D&D 5e.

This means Clerics have the most access to healing spells in 5e, making them the most versatile in terms of healing output.

While every Cleric works as a healer, some subclasses, or Domains, work better for it.

Best Cleric Healer Subclasses

The best healer-focused subclass for Clerics is the Life Domain, but the Grave and Peace Domains also stand out as great options.

Every Cleric Domain works as a healer to varying degrees of success. That said, many lack any sort of features which actually benefit healing. So, you as a player have a few options in the top Cleric subclasses if you want to focus on healing.

The best Cleric Domains for healing are:

  1. Life Domain
  2. Grave Domain
  3. Peace Domain

These three Domains not only have access to the full list of healing spells every Cleric has, but also subclass features which improve their ability to act as the party’s healer. These features may modify existing spells to increase healing output or may just offer healing without the use of spell slots to begin with.

Let’s go into a bit more detail over each of these Cleric Domains to give you a better idea of why they work so well for a healer.

Life Domain (Player’s Handbook)
The biggest advantage a Life Domain Cleric has over other healing classes is their Disciple of Life feature which heals additional hit points to a target creature when casting a spell and based on the spell’s level. But, they also get a use for their Channel Divinity feature called Preserve Life which lets them distribute hit points to creatures within 30 feet of themselves. Later on, Life Domain Clerics also get the Supreme Healing feature which makes all healing spells heal the maximum number of hit points possible (so, instead of rolling 1d4 for healing word, you’d just heal 4 + your Wisdom modifier).
Grave Domain (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
Grave Domain Clerics make great healers as they’re tied with the mechanics in 5e. Basically, they work best as a healer when other creatures die. For instance, Grave Clerics get the Circle of Mortality feature which makes their healing spells more effective when cast on a creature at zero hit points. They also gain a feature later on which lets them heal themselves or a nearby ally when an enemy dies without the use of an action, bonus action, or reaction.
Peace Domain (Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything)
The Peace Domain has fewer features which directly heal other creatures, but they make for a fantastic healer through their ridiculously strong abilities. About the only direct healing feature is their Channel Divinity: Balm of Peace but it’s a good one. Basically, it lets them move and heal a good amount to every creature of their choice they move next to. They also get Emboldening Bond which, once they reach a certain level, essentially pools the party’s hit points together, allowing every player character (or willing NPC) to basically share hit points.

As mentioned, pretty much any Cleric subclass can work as a healer. But, many of them are better suited for playing a tank or damage dealing. These three Domains are you best bets for playing a healing-optimized character.

Druid Healers

Druidic Man in a Cloak in a Forest

Druids make for a great healer class in D&D 5e thanks to their many healing spells. Few Druid subclasses offer features specifically designed for healing, but there are a few which do.

Druids in 5e get the second most number of healing spells, making them a good alternative to playing a Cleric healer. They even get some spells Clerics lack like healing spirit which still offers some pretty good healing despite the Xanathar’s errata updates. Not to mention goodberry which pretty much negates starvation as a threat and, with proper planning, gives everyone in the party the ability to save creatures knocked to zero hit points.

The Druid’s access to many healing spells is essentially its greatest strength as a healer. Not many of their subclasses include features to improve their healing capabilities. In fact, if you’re playing a subclass like the Circle of the Moon, you’re actually much less effective at healing since you’ll spend much of your time in a form incapable of casting spells.

That said, the Druid does have a few good subclass options for playing a healer.

Best Druid Healer Subclasses

The Circle of Dreams subclass stands as your best pick for playing a healing-focused Druid. That said, the Circle of Stars and Circle of Wildfire also offer some decent healing features.

Like I said, there aren’t many Druid Circles optimized for healing. They’re all capable of it with access to the same basic spell list. But, you do have a few options for optimizing your Druid healer.

The best Druid subclasses for healing are:

  1. Circle of Dreams
  2. Circle of Stars
  3. Circle of Wildfire

Even then, each of these subclasses doesn’t offer much in the way of improving your character’s healing output. That said, they’re the only ones with any sort of healing outside of casting spells. So, let’s briefly go over each so you see what they offer in terms of healing.

Circle of Dreams (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
Probably your best bet for playing a healing Druid, the Circle of Dreams gives you the Balm of the Summer Court feature. Essentially, this feature gives you a bonus action heal based on your Druid level. It’s a pretty good feature which scales as you level up and you get it early on, so this gives a Dreams Druid a bit of extra healing they can output throughout most of their adventures.
Circle of Stars (Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything)
The Circle of Stars Druid subclass offers the Starry Form feature. This feature gives you a few options for which constellation-based form your character takes with one of those options giving you a bit of extra healing whenever you cast a healing spell. This healing only improves one time at a higher level, so it doesn’t scale as well as the Circle of Dreams, but it does bolster your Druid’s healing capabilities.
Circle of Wildfire (Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything)
Circle of Wildfire Druids get their healing feature much later on than the other two options, making it less important and viable. The healing offered by the Cauterizing Flames feature isn’t that great, just enough to make it a nice boost in an emergency. It also requires another creature to die to work. So, it’s not a lot of healing and it’s conditional, but it is a bit of extra healing your Druid can do as a reaction.

These are your best options for playing a Druid healer. Your best choices are probably the Circle of Dreams and Circle of Stars, but any Druid can work as a healer thanks to their spell selection.

Bard Healers

Woman Holding a Lute on Her Shoulder

Playing a Bard healer means fitting more of a support role. They have a good number of healing spells and gain access to more thanks to their Magical Secrets feature, but lack features specifically angled towards healing.

Now, the Bard’s spell list includes a good number of healing spells. Not as many as the Cleric or Druid on its own, but it has many of the essentials like healing word and cure wounds.

The thing with playing a Bard as a healer is you have access to every healing spell with their Magical Secrets feature.

Magical Secrets lets a Bard choose two spells from any other spell list to add to their own available spells. This means Bards essentially have every spell in their spell list. This includes the Cleric- and Druid-only healing spells.

Even better, Bards get Magical Secrets three times at 10th-, 14th-, and 18th-level for a total of six spells outside their base spell list. So, you can custom pick the best healing spells from any spell list for your Bard.

Best Bard Healer Subclass

None of the Bard Colleges really offer anything which improves healing. But, the College of Lore gives extra options for adding more spells to their repertoire which gives them a bit more variety in their healing capabilities.

The only reason the College of Lore subclass is your best option for playing a Bard healer is their Additional Magical Secrets feature. This works in basically the same way as Magical Secrets with a couple exceptions.

First, you get Additional Magical Secrets at 6th-level, even earlier than regular Magical Secrets. This gives you access to other healing spells earlier than other Bard subclasses.

Second, the spells you choose with Additional Magical Secrets don’t count against your number of spells known. Bards have a set number of spells known based on their leve, and the spells obtained through the base Magical Secrets feature count against this number. But, the spells from Additional Magical Secrets don’t which means you get two extra spells without taking up spaces.

This subclass also gives you Cutting Words which may make it harder for creatures to hit your allies. If your allies don’t take damage from an attack thanks to you, that’s sort of indirectly healing them before they even take the damage.

Many other Bard Colleges offer support features which may aid in healing but none of them directly. Even then, the College of Lore doesn’t necessarily directly improve your healing capabilities as a Bard. But, at least it gives you a few features which gives your character versatility in their healing.

Divine Soul Sorcerer Healers

Man with Magical Energy Swirling Around Him

Ordinarily, the Sorcerer isn’t a healing class. Its spell list doesn’t include any healing spells and most of its subclasses don’t offer any healing features. But, the Divine Soul Sorcerous Origin places the class as a great choice for playing a healer.

Essentially, the Divine Soul subclass from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything gives a Sorcerer access to the Cleric spell list. You have to follow the normal rules for Sorcerer spells and they count as Sorcerer spells for the purposes of casting. Aside from that, you have all the classic and essential healing spells Clerics have.

Now, aside from that, you do get the Empowered Healing feature which helps in ensuring you heal as much as possible. But, that’s pretty much the only subclass feature which improves your healing as a Divine Soul Sorcerer.

Instead, your most powerful tool when playing a Divine Soul Sorcerer healer is from the base class; Metamagic.

More specifically, the Twinned Spell option which reads:

Twinned Spell
When you cast a spell that targets only one creature and doesn’t have a range of self, you can spend a number of sorcery points equal to the spell’s level to target a second creature in range with the same spell (1 sorcery point if the spell is a cantrip).

Source: DnD Beyond | Basic Rules – Sorcerer

This Metamagic option basically lets you target two creatures with a healing spell which usually only targets one. So, a cantrip like spare the dying or a spell like healing word will work but aid wouldn’t since it targets up to three creatures already. Using Twinned Spell essentially doubles the amount of hit points any single-target healing spell restores. Now, it doesn’t double healing on single targets, but effectively doubles as you heal two creatures for the cost of one spell (and Sorcery Point).

Distant Spell is another great Metamagic for healing as you can extend the range of even touch-range spells by 30 feet. This means, while it still won’t have the range of healing word, cure wounds becomes more powerful as it heals more and the target doesn’t need to be adjacent to your character anymore.

This all said, the use of these Metamagic options requires Sorcery Point expenditures. So, you’ll need to balance that with your spell slots. But, these make the Divine Soul Sorcerer a fantastic healer class in D&D 5e.

Alchemist Artificer Healers

Goblin Alchemist Holding Up and Inspecting a Potion Bottle

Artificers can make for a decent healer class if you choose to play the Alchemist Specialist. They get access to some healing spells and can create some healing items through their class and subclass features.

The Artificer class in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything gets very few healing spells when compared with other, healing-focused classes. So, their ability through the use of spells is limited.

That said, the Alchemist Specialist subclass offers a few features which provide a bit of healing outside of spells. Namely, the Experimental Elixir feature includes an option for healing hit points when consumed.

The biggest drawback with Experimental Elixir is its initially a random roll. So, you won’t have a guaranteed healing elixir. That said, you can expend a spell slot to make one which does let you choose from the table of options.

Pretty much all of the Alchemists subclass features give your character some level of healing or improvement to your existing healing capabilities.

Alchemical Savant gives your healing spells a bit of a boost. Restorative Reagents adds a temporary hit point addition to your Experimental Elixirs. And, Chemical Mastery gives your character access to high-level healing spells without using a spell slot.

Furthermore, as you level your Alchemist Artificer up, you gain the ability to make more Experimental Elixirs.

Playing an Alchemist Artificer as a healer is an interesting take on the role. It might not be as effective as a Cleric of Divine Soul Sorcerer, but it’s a thematic choice with interesting features.

Paladin Healers

Knight with Angelic Wings and a Halo

Paladins make for alright healers in D&D 5e. Their Lay on Hands feature is really their strongest benefit in healing but they do get access to a few spells as well.

Now, as a half-caster, Paladins get much fewer spells than Clerics or Druids. Of their comparatively small amount of spells and spell slots, they only have seven healing spells. Some of them are pretty good, like aura of life and aura of vitality, but Paladins are usually better off using their spell slots for Smite usage.

Honestly, the biggest advantage Paladins have as a healer is their Lay on Hands feature. Lay on Hands gives you a pool of hits points equal to five times your Paladin level your character may expend as an action. So, a 2nd-level Paladin has 10 points to spend, a 3rd-level has 15, and so on. You may also elect to end one disease or poison afflicting a creature by spending five points.

Basically, Lay on Hands gives Paladins a healing feature so they don’t have to rely on their comparatively few heal-based spells.

That’s about it as far as the base Paladin class goes in their effectiveness as a healer. But, a couple of their subclasses offer a bit more to improve your healing capabilities.

Best Paladin Healer Subclasses

Most Paladin Oaths angle more towards tanking or damage, but you have a couple options in the Oath of the Crown or Oath of Redemption for playing a more healing-focused character.

It’s honestly as simple as that. Your two best healing subclasses for Paladins are:

  1. Oath of the Crown
  2. Oath of Redemption

That said, these options aren’t even that ideal for healing. Yes, they give you some options for playing a healer Paladin, but they never directly improve your healing output.

Instead, these classes opt for more damage mitigation than anything. So, here’s a quick look at what they offer for the Heal-adin.

Oath of the Crown (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide)
This Paladin subclass has two kinda-sorta healing features. The first is Divine Allegiance which lets you essentially take the damage targeted at a nearby creature for them; not really healing, but damage negation. The second is Exalted Champion which makes succeeding death saving throws a bit easier for your allies. Again, not really healing, but good for party survivability.
Oath of Redemption (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
The Oath of Redemption Paladin subclass really only has one "healing" feature. Its Aura of the Guardian feature lets you take damage targeted at another creature so they aren’t harmed. It’s not really healing, but transferring the damage to your character which, as a Paladin, usually has more hit points than other classes.

As you can see, playing a Paladin healer is a bit tricky. You don’t really have much in the way of spells or features for restoring hit points, so you need to get a bit creative in how you go about it.

Mercy Monk Healers

One Hand Blocking a Strike from Another

Most Monks do not work well as healers. The Way of Mercy subclass is the exception, offering pretty solid healing without the use of spells. Unfortunately, this subclass only heals through physical contact, making healing as a Mercy Monk a bit tricky.

The Way of Mercy Monastic Tradition from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is the only healing-focused Monk subclass. It offers some interesting features for their healing as they lack any sort of access to spells.

To start, Mercy Monks get Hand of Healing which is basically a small heal with a range of touch. It integrates with your Flurry of Blows feature, so it’s kind of an alternative to just punching things to deal damage. Instead, you can heal them too!

This feature basically gets improved as you level up, offering more healing as you get stronger.

It all culminates with Hand of Ultimate Mercy which is the Way of Mercy’s resurrection feature. Great for when you don’t have access to reviving spells.

Now, the biggest problem (and it’s a big one) with the Way of Mercy Monk as a healing class is all your healing features require you to touch your target. You don’t have any ranged heals. So, if your Mercy Monk is on the frontlines, smacking enemies and punching health into the Barbarian, your backline party mates are out of luck for any quick and easy heals.

Playing a Way of Mercy Monk is tricky as a healer. It’s interesting enough, but tough to keep up and respond to emergencies without any ranged healing abilities.

Celestial Warlock Healers

Robed Individual Clasping Their Hands Together in the Presence of an Angelic Entity

The Warlock class only offers one option to fill the healer role in the Celestial Otherworldly Patron. This subclass gives the Warlock some healing capabilities ordinarily unavailable to the class and they’re pretty good all things considered..

The Celestial Otherworldly Patron Warlock subclass comes from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and essentially is a character who made a pact with a non-deity celestial like a Unicorn or Ki-rin.

This subclass gives a Warlock access to some essential healing spells like cure wounds and lesser restoration.

The biggest advantage Celestial Warlocks have as a healer class is their Healing Light feature. This feature gives you a pool of dice to use in restoring hit points which scales with your Warlock level. Its a good bit of healing which doesn’t require the use of a spell slot.

While not directly tied to healing, Celestial Warlocks also get the Celestial Resilience feature which grants both the Warlock and surrounding creatures a number of temporary hit points after finishing a rest. Like I said, not really healing, but the temporary hit points act as a sort of buffer, preventing direct damage to a character’s actual health.

But, that’s about it.

Honestly, a Celestial Warlock isn’t necessarily a bad healing class. But, it lacks sustainability. Yes, the subclass gets a few healing spells, but Warlocks inherently have much fewer spell slots to spend by design. This means their access to healing spells is limited and becomes a tough balancing act between removing threats with damage and healing seriously wounded allies. Healing Light makes up a bit of this lack of sustainability, but it only goes so far and the amount it heals is dependent on the number of dice you expend from your allotted pool.

So, choosing a Celestial Warlock as your healer class isn’t a terrible choice but it’s a bit trickier than others.

Ranger Healers

Ranger Woman Readying an Arrow in a Magical Zone

Rangers have access to a few healing spells which makes them okay at filling the healer role.

About the only going for Rangers as a healing class in D&D is their access to restorative spells. But even then, they have access to very few of them, about six of the spells tagged as "Healing" on DnD Beyond.

Rangers do get access to a few amazing healing spells, though. For example, they get goodberry which, as mentioned earlier, is great for equipping the entire party with an easy stabilization method for characters who drop to zero hit points. Rangers also get healing spirit like Druids which is still a pretty good spell despite the updates.

Look at it this way; Rangers are a damage dealing class but they can work as secondary healers when the main healer (Cleric, Bard, etc.) can’t fulfill their healing duties. This is sometimes called "off-healing".

Basically, Rangers should be back-up healers in emergencies.

Best Ranger Healer Subclass

Your best option for playing a Ranger healer is playing the Horizon Walker Archetype. It doesn’t offer anything in improving healing but it gives your Ranger more mobility, making reaching wounded allies much easier.

Pretty much every Ranger Archetype isn’t built for healing. Horizon Walker from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is your best bet simply because it improves your Ranger’s mobility

This subclass gives you some teleportation abilities including getting access to the misty step spell and, if you’re in the right situation, Distant Strike which requires a bit of set-up. But, both let you get around the battlefield a bit easier.

That all said, at the end of the day, Rangers including those belonging to the Horizon Walker Archetype don’t make for the most optimal healers in D&D 5e.

Banneret Fighter Healers

Mounted Knight Carrying a Flag

The Banneret Archetype for Fighters really only offers one method of healing, but it may come in handy in a dire situation.

Most of the Fighter’s subclasses don’t have any features for restoring hit points to other creatures. The only exception is the Banneret / Purple Dragon Knight from Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. Even then, it’s not great.

The Banneret Fighter Archetype is really just an emergency healer. Like, the other healer is down and you have no other option, last chance kind of healer.

This is because this subclass gets exactly one feature with a limited use of one time per rest. That feature is Rallying Cry which basically lets you heal a few creatures close to you when you use your Second Wind feature. Fighters can only use Second Wind once per rest, so Rallying Cry is equally as limited in its use.

Obviously, this isn’t sustainable for a healing-focused character. Not to mention, the healing a Banneret Fighter offers isn’t even that great. It’s truly an emergency feature used when multiple allies are incapacitated due to loss of hit points.

But, at the same point, it’s nice to have it when you need it.

 

Conclusion on the Best Cleric Classes in D&D 5e

When opting to play a healer in D&D 5e, you may want to consider your class choice carefully

Clerics are the classic choice and the Life Domain is almost hands down your more optimal option. But, many other classes offer healing capabilities with unique features or spells Clerics lack access to. The Druid and Bard classes are good picks if you don’t want to play a Cleric healer with their considerable spell choices. Beyond that, you have a number of subclasses like the Divine Soul Sorcerer or Alchemist Artificer which each offer unique takes on healing.

I do want to say you can supplement pretty much any class’ healing capabilities through taking the Healer feat which basically makes the Medicine Kit much more powerful. Just putting that out there.

Which class if your favorite for playing a healer in 5e? Leave a comment below with your top pick and why you like it!

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