Dallas Ft. Worth - Washington D.C. - Seattle - New Orleans
"Unknown. That's the key word. 'Unknown.' When we become involved in a supernatural event, we're scared out of our wits just because it's unknown. The night cry of a child. A face on the wall. Knockings, bangings. What's there to be afraid of? You weren't threatened. It was harmless, like a joke that doesn't come out."
-Dr. John Markway from The Haunting of Hill House (1963)
So You Want to be a Ghost Hunter...
We created this section due to the demand from people who want to know where to begin in the paranormal field. We have some helpful guidelines listed below plus links to other parts of the website which will no doubt prove helpful in your search for the the world beyond.
These are also listed in a roughly logical sequence of what to do.
1) Keep your day job. For those who have inquired as to making a living at being a ghost hunter or paranormal investigator, my response is that you have things backwards. Ghost hunting is an expensive hobby or avocation at best. If you can somehow break even in this field, (just covering your expenses MINUS salary) you are doing better than 98 % of the hunters and researchers out there.
The only ways to make any money at all are writing books (authors don't get rich - trust me) or going to school and getting a doctorate in parapsychology and working for a university; an expense which could easily run into the six figures and would not pay nearly as well as you would like.
Furthermore, it takes up FAR MORE TIME than you think if you want a halfway serious group. If you have a family and other responsibilities, you may be very hampered and frustrated as to what you can do. I am single with no children and it is nigh impossible for me to do all that I wish to in this field.
Investing in ghost hunting is better suited for personal enrichment and helping others rather than financial gain or thrill seeking. Otherwise, you may burn out very quickly.
2) Read. Here is a helpful list of recommended texts on the Book Reviews page. For up to date and cutting edge information, here is the Ghost Magazines section with a number of newsletters and links to online periodicals and print publications including issues of The Shadow's Edge - Official SPI Paranormal Journal. You don't need to become an expert, though I recommend you at least be conversant on the subject of the occult.
And don't restrict your reading to just the subject of ghost hunting. Physics, photography, electronics and many other fields touch cross the paths of the paranormal and I can tell you from my own experience that being well rounded is a huge asset in this field. This website has many helpful tips and articles - I suggest the following to start with:
3) Find local ghost groups in your area and contact them. Here is our National Directory - please note Ghost Meetup is a possible one to check out if there are no groups in your vicinity yet, but they now require a fee to be paid by the organizer. Before you approach a group, try to think in terms of what you have to offer them. Are you a scientist or a reference librarian? Do you have ties with real estate developers or historical groups? Are you an audio engineer or other technical guru? The more you can fill a skill set or need by an organization, the better your chances of being accepted. Here is an example of our guidelines for joining - Want To Join?
Many groups are closed, which means that they don't accept new members or it is by invitation only. You can still approach them, introduce yourself and ask for leads on who you can join in your area. What is important is that you try and establish a good rapport with a group or groups in your region for a mutually beneficial relationship down the road. Even if you never join them, you can still wind up as a guest on an investigation or collaborate with them on a research project.
4) If after getting to this point, you are certain that you are willing to make a $100 - $500 + investment in equipment, take a look at our Ghost Hunter Tech page for suggestions on the types of equipment and manufacturers. We currently offer a new Ghost Hunter Forms Kit that will help you organize your efforts. Here is a handy page of Ghost Hunting Equipment Links.
5) At this point, if you still are having trouble finding an investigation or someone to hunt with, then you might want to consider attending a Ghost or Paranormal Conference. Bear in mind that you will probably have to travel to another state and sign up weeks or months in advance to guarantee getting a slot. But try and make sure they are reputable before you plunk your money down.
Keep making contacts and stay in touch with other hunters. Keep business cards on you at all times - you never know who you are going to meet. If you want to talk to other hunters, participating in discussion boards are a good way to have your fingers on the pulse of the community.
If all else fails, you may have to become proactive and form your own group - the Ghost Meetups mentioned above are a good start with a ready made website, bulletin board and event planner. If you have followed the previous steps, you probably have some idea of what to do next. If you are a bit shy and not good as a "front man", you may need a friend or new ghost hunter acquaintance/mentor to help blaze a path for you. Please review the Hazards section listed above for the pitfalls in forming or being in a group.
Finally, a caveat. While it sounds good on paper, forming a group made up of only your close friends can be more frustrating than you think. It is better to find those who are passionate about the subject, reliable and trustworthy. Friends will want to hang out just to socialize and in general won't take the paranormal research as seriously. Also, there is a tendency for those familiar to each other to take certain things and each other for granted. Casualness, tradition and slack-cutting can be fine within the confines of a friendship, but like a business, you may find that your expectations within the pursuit of ghost hunting may not be as tolerant.
"In her place one hundred candles burning
"Love You to Death"
-Type O Negative