For most people, ghost hunting is a hobby and stems from a deep interest in the paranormal world. The popularity of the TV show Ghost Hunters did however create a whole new concept for ghost hunting and that concept is: Do ghost hunters get paid and is it a career option?
Now, there are some interesting career choices in the world and it only takes 5 minutes off scrolling through LinkedIn to see that there are some very interesting, unique, and questionable job titles/roles that people have in the modern world.
You can scroll through this site and for almost all hobbies, there’s a way to turn your passion into a career. Ghost hunting is slightly different though because you can’t actually prove the presence of ghosts. If you can’t prove the presence of something, how can you expect to charge for it?
Most ghost hunters do not get paid directly for their service and it is considered bad etiquette to charge a client for ghost hunting work. Most ghost hunters will only charge the cost of travel or accommodation if needed. Ghost hunters instead earn money through workshops, ghost hunting tours, and promotional work (TV, journalist source, books, etc.)
Starting a career as a ghost hunter is not one we’d consider to be lucrative for most people and it’s certainly not a traditional career path. In this article, we’ll cover whether or not you can make a living from ghost hunting and how you could go about making it your full-time career.
You won’t find a college degree or apprenticeship opportunity for becoming a ghost hunter so it’s no surprise that many wonder whether it’s an actual career and how you can get started. We’ll first start by saying that the majority of ghost hunters do this as a side job or hobby.
It’s not a lucrative line of work to get into and is far from a traditional career path. Getting paid is also not as straightforward as identifying a ghost and billing the customer of your service though we’ll cover more on that later.
Before getting into the career aspect, we’ll first cover what the requirements are to get started as a ghost hunter. There is no formal education process but there are certification courses available online to get you started.
These are not an essential requirement but cover most of the basics for what you’d need in terms of a knowledge base. You could also find this information online but it would take a while to research it all yourself so a one-off payment for a course could be a better option.
Next, you should look to join some already existing paranormal activity societies. These are groups located in different states (with New England being a thriving community) and internationally for paranormal professionals and enthusiasts. A good place to check out is Paranormalsocieties.com which has a good list of global societies to network and learn.
Finally, you’ll need equipment and this is something that warrants its own section entirely.
The greatest stumbling block for most getting started in ghost hunting is the cost of equipment. Paranormal technology has come on a long way since ghost hunting first burst onto the scene in the early 21st century (though Ghostbusters can certainly be recognized as the ghost hunting pioneer).
You’ll now need expensive cameras, electronic voice phenomena recorders (EVP), digital audio recorders, electronic-magnetic field meter (EMF), ultrasonic motion sensors and detectors, laptops, software, infrared and night vision lenses, and an array of more intricate technology.
Therefore, the startup costs for a ghost hunter can easily be in the thousands of dollars!
Now we’ll cover the most important topic for ghost hunting as a career and that is whether or not you can get paid for this service. Firstly, most ghost hunters will not charge for their service when dealing with residential cases and bookings.
A lot of ghost hunting work is investigative and it’s considered to be bad etiquette for ghost hunters to charge for their work when conducting ghost hunting services for the public, even when hired directly. A small caveat is that some ghost hunters will often charge for gas and/or accommodation as it can be an expensive service when crossing states or cross country.
The reason most ghost hunters will not charge a fee is that it can be too easy to exploit customers by manipulating data and preying on their fears, anxieties, and discomfort around the situation. Most ghost hunters provide this service for free to help families and individuals that are having their lives genuinely impacted by paranormal activity.
What is far more acceptable though, is that ghost hunters will charge businesses for this service. The reason for this is that most businesses have the angle of seeking a ghost hunter so that they can advertise this paranormal activity as being a “haunted establishment”.
This is common for businesses looking to drive customers through their doors for bars, pubs (in the UK), restaurants, hotels, and any other type of establishment that would benefit from increased tourism as a result of having a haunted establishment.
As the business can profit from this, it’s far more acceptable for ghost hunters to require a fee for their service in these instances as the main driver is for profitability rather than peace of mind for the customer like in residential properties.
While the going rate is usually free or the cost of expenses, ghost hunters also do not charge a fee of more than $50 - $100 per day which makes for very unlucrative work from a career aspect so most ghost hunters will do this as a side project or hobby.
For enterprising individuals though, ghosts, in general, provide a multi-million dollar industry and it is possible for people to make a good career as a ghost hunter without resorting to scams or unethical work (by paranormal society standards).
Those that do have a successful career are few and far between though and you’ll see why from the following ways to make additional money as a ghost hunter.
Becoming a public figure in the paranormal world is the most recognized way to earn a living from ghost hunting. The reason for this is the media opportunities and job prospects that support ghost hunting in terms of documentaries and national television.
Ghost Hunters, Most Haunted, and Ghost Adventures are just a few examples of popular TV shows where presenters, ghost hunters, and the technical team have made a good living from ghost hunting.
Alongside television, there are magazine opportunities, book publishing, course creation, and a well-followed social channel all offer monetizable opportunities when you become an established authority in the ghost hunting domain.
Following the above, ghost hunters also make a good living from special events or guided ghost hunting tours. These involve taking people on the journey of ghost hunting and are a way to earn a living whilst also actively engaging in ghost hunting at the same time.
These events can be educational, entertaining, or experiential, and hosting a ghost hunting event is currently an untapped market that many ghost hunters are not utilizing in order to support this as a career.
Finally, the most lucrative aspect of ghost hunting is in retail. Ghost hunting equipment has seen technological advancements come on leaps and bounds in the last decade and those that have become involved in new product creation have seen the rewards for selling products to other ghost hunters.
This option is not for everyone, especially if you just want to be involved in doing the physical aspect of going out and investigating the paranormal but through keen insight into the industry, product development can be a good route to take to support this career.
While most ghost hunters do not get paid for their services and do it for the enjoyment or need to help others struggling with paranormal activity impacting their lives, it’s still possible for ghost hunters to make a living from this line of work.
It’s not common for ghost hunters to be overly successful financially in this line of work, especially when most rely on donations or just covering expenses. If, however, you can tap into an entrepreneurial side and develop products, get in front of the media or become an authority and influencer in the space, there’s certainly an opportunity to create a career as a ghost hunter.