Over the last five years as a paranormal investigator I have attempted to answer many questions dealing with the paranormal. I certainly do not consider myself an expert by any means.
Since some of these questions have dealt with areas in which I feel I have some competence–cognitive psychology, mental illness, brain disorders, vision–I feel that I have been able to adequately address them. If I don’t feel that I have the background necessary to answer a specific question, I will refer the individual to people who do.
There is one question that has been repeatedly asked which I found surprising. I would say, the majority–but not all–of the people that have asked me this question have been teenagers.
The question is always some variation of…
“I’ve decided that I want to be a ghost hunter, you know for a job. I’ve very certain about this, do you know how I do this?”
Even with my relatively limited knowledge, I was willing to tackle this question.
I can only assume that the recent popularity of such shows as Ghost Hunters, Most Haunted, Paranormal State, and others has lead to the belief–at least in the people asking the question–that being a paranormal investigator is a legitimate career path.
So, I tell them with no uncertainty, that Ghost Hunting is probably NOT a viable career choice.
I believe that the popularity of this field touches on the basis of human existence…consider the question being asked; Is there an afterlife? Of course everyone is interested. But, lets take a step back and consider the draw as a career.
You get to travel, you get to go into cool places, it appears to be a relatively easy activity that is accessible to everyone, and you may get to be on television and become famous! There are some basic human needs being met here, and being thought of as cool because of your job is something we all could live with. Who doesn’t want recognition and to be looked up to by their peers?
So, we find ourselves easily understanding some of the motivations for seeking a career as a ghost hunter: Prestige, recognition, possible fame, working toward finding the answer of one of the most important questions of life and death.
Realize that some of the most respected people in the field have been doing this for years, and most of don’t have their own television show or perhaps make a significant amount of money doing it. People labor for years to gain a level of expertise in a subject matter. Sudden stars like Jason and Grant of TAPs have been conducting paranormal investigations for years, yet, their primary careers are (or were) as plumbers.
The people whom I consider the most respected and well-known paranormal investigators are individuals like Troy Taylor, Jon Zaffis, and Lloyd Auerbach. I am not conversant on the educational and career backgrounds of these individuals, but I do believe that they are able to make somewhat of a living working in the paranormal field. None of them have a famous TV show, but all are accomplished authors, lecturers, and teachers willing to share their knowledge. Mr. Taylor–with the well-known mid-western sensibility to tell it like it is–specifically says that he eschews celebrity, having chosen
not to go that way long ago.
In my eyes, these folks are the giants, without which shows like Ghost Hunters would not exist.
Now we come to money. How does one earn money being a paranormal investigator?
While some investigators charge for their services, I would say that most do not. Groups often accept donations, even going as far as to set up a Paypal account on their Web site (which I consider particularly tacky by the way). Our group accepts donations, and though we’ve received a few, they certainly haven’t covered our expenses.
So, where does that leave us?
People that are making money in this field are authors, run tour groups and give conferences, teach classes, and, perhaps, earn money from Web site advertising or selling ghost hunting equipment. Some also may offer paranormal marketing for businesses–something we provide for free. The rarest are the very small percentage of people who have a television show and/or act as consultants to the entertainment industry.
At least as far as I can tell.
I should note that I have been contacted by three different television producers over the last 5 years (via e-mail ) looking for people to audition for new paranormal-based television shows. Pretty cool, but I’m not an accomplished or well-known investigator, so I would hazard that I was one of 1000’s of people that they contacted. Sure, they may have liked my amateurish web site, and perhaps saw my picture, but I assume that these opportunities are very rare.
Visit the International Ghost Hunters Society (Dave and Sharon Oester) at www.ghostweb.com or Mass Paranormal at www.massparanormal.net if you want examples of people that are probably able to finance their time spent doing paranormal investigations via their activities. I respect both these groups, and their Web sites are certainly worth a look.
There are many ways to earn money, but you don’t do it being an investigator, you generally have to do it by one of the ways I’ve mentioned in the previous paragraph.
So, where does that leave you for a career as a ghost hunter?
I advise people that ghost hunting is a hobby. If you can find a way to earn enough revenue to finance your hobby through donations, you are a successful ghost hunter. If you can build a popular paranormal web site and earn money through advertising and selling products on line, you are a successful ghost hunter. If you can earn revenue from teaching a workshop, you are a successful ghost hunter.
But, you better pick something else for a stable long-term career.
If you are very, very serious about the pursuit of the paranormal, there is an actual career path for you as a psychologist. You would need to start by earning your bachelors degree in psychology, they pursue a graduate degree (doctorate) in parapsychology and then, probably get a job teaching at a university. Technically, its not a career as a ghost hunter, but you’ll more then likely make enough money to finance your investigations. Ghost hunting won’t be a job, it would still be a hobby–like it is for me and the other 99% of ghost hunters out there. Of course, you’ll be extremely qualified to actually conduct investigations.
So, for all of you career track ghost hunters out there, good luck!
Does anyone have any other ideas? I’d sure like to make enough money ghost hunting to pay my mortgage.