Agriculture is the central component of Q'anjob'al economic life. The staple crops, maize, beans, and squashes, are grown on milpa plots according to swidden agricultural practices. The Q'anjob'al are unique because they have not only cultivated maize as a subsistence crop, but they have also been able to grow surpluses, which they sell for cash. They farm on the sides of mountains and slopes that are often as steep as 45°. Because of the slopes, they are unable to use heavy plows or animals. They utilize the traditional hoe, machete, and digging stick. Opportunities are severely limited outside of agriculture; those unable to farm because of a lack of land are forced to become migrant laborers.
Weaving is the main economic activity for women. They utilize traditional looms to create intricately designed clothes and blouses. Clothing is not only produced as an economic good, but also as a symbol of municipal identity. Because each town has its own particular design, it is possible to tell which villages individuals come from by simply looking at their clothing.