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How to Become a Paranormal Researcher

Updated on February 5, 2015

How to become a ghost hunter?

"Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense."
Carl Sagan

Anyone can be a paranormal researcher - there are no laws or codes that define what a paranormal researcher is. However, to be a good paranormal researcher is entirely different. Another idea to think about is - do you want to research as a hobby? Or do you want to conduct paranormal investigations on a more permanent level? There are some paid jobs available out there as a paranormal researcher as well as parapsychologists attached to universities. In addition a lucky few have broken into TV or have become authors that pays for their work. There are also many excellent groups out there who don't charge anything for services and investigate purely out of enthusiasm and a belief that there is something worthwhile exploring

But for the vast majority researching the paranormal is an interest that is studied by the investigators outwith their normal job and working day. This goes to show just how dedicated and enthusiastic some of these people are.

Learning to be a paranormal researcher often means being a jack of all trades


Taking the first steps to becoming a paranormal investigator

Start to form a plan of the knowledge you will need as a paranormal researcher. In addition, think about your life experiences and education - is there anything you already have that would be useful? For example a good knowledge of say photography, science, nature/environment, psychology/behaviour, journalism/writing, nursing/care/doctor, police force. This may surprise you, but all these subjects/professions can and do help within paranormal investigations. Some are self explantory but professions such as nursing/care gives you a good knowledge of people and how/why the may react/believe in some things. The police force gives you an excellent background of course in investigation and planning techniques.

As well as the professions, below is a list of some of the things you should be thinking about:

  • What current knowledge do you have on subjects such as ghosts, poltergeists, residual hauntings, spirit activity and other forms of paranormal activity? Read up and study on the subjects that you need to.
  • Research local groups and consider joining one. Even if you want to set up your own group eventually, the experience gained by an existing group will be invaluable to you.
  • If there are no local groups or no vacancies within a group at the moment then you could set up on your own. You will then need to research and study how paranormal investigations are conducted and what equipment you might need to buy - an essential piece is certainly a camera and/or camcorder.
  • One of the best ways to get the knowledge you need is to study a course on paranormal subjects and investigations. There are many to choose from, particularly on-line, where the modules are conducted via the internet. Shop around for the most reasonable costs and the topics that you feel would be most beneficial to you. Courses are discussed in the next section.

Paranormal investigators look for the natural causes before the supernatural


Paranormal Investigators often study parapsychology. (Edinburgh University, Koestler Unit, Seat for Parapsychology Studies.)


Courses available for paranormal investigators

The courses that you should think about completing are those that cover the essential core subjects you need, such as:

  • The attributes of a good paranormal investigator
  • What parnanormal investigation involves
  • The basics of paranormal investigations
  • How to prepare and perform your own investigations
  • What equipment you will need and how to use it effectively
  • The various kinds of paranormal activity - it's also helpful if courses also show how natural phenomena might be mistaken for something paranormal.
  • Courses that show video clips and photographs are also very useful

If you want to include a more scholarly study of paranormal events then consider studying parapsychology. This doesn't have to be the the full degree course. Edinburgh University's Koestler Unit for example, has been the seat of parapsychology studies since it was founded in 1985. Dr Caroline Watt currently runs an online course in parapsychological studies that covers elements such as:

  • Spontaneous paranormal experiences
  • Beliefs in the paranormal
  • Theories in Parapsychology
  • Lab testing of PK and ESP
  • The latest developments in lab research
  • Testing people with a possible psychic/ESP ability
  • The implications that may arise from parapsychology studies

Other subjects that paranormal investigators should at least have a grounding in are physics, human psychology/behaviour, the effects of the environment on the human mind - such as infrasound, emf (electromagnetic fields) etc.

Let's now have a look at some of the equipment you will need for investigating.

It may surprise you to know that an essential piece of equipment for paranormal investigation is a notebook and pen


Essential equipment for a paranormal investigator is a camera


What equipment does a paranormal investigator need?

To conduct a serious and worthwhile paranormal research you don't need - despite what the TV and movies show - to buy expensive equipment. Sure, equipment can help, but it's the researcher who makes or breaks an investigation, not the gadgets. There are however, a couple of pieces of equipment that are necessary such as:

  • A digital camera - having night vision capability is also useful but not essential.
  • A magnetic tape recorder for recording EVP's - electronic voice phenomena. There is much debate about using the latest digital recording devices as they are held to filter out background noise better. Having said this, there are some excellent recordings that have been made on the older magnetic tape type.
  • A notebook and pen. This may sound obvious, but in the excitement of a first investigation, the smaller essentials are often forgotten. Practice developing note taking skills - when you have a few witnesses to interview it might even be a good idea to record the sessions.
  • Other items such as a torch/flashlight, flask of hot tea/coffee/soup and maybe even a good book - you can sit doing nothing for hours with no activity, so it can get boring.
  • The most important item is you! Paranormal investigations need patience, alertness, planning, and good note taking. Essential information to record is place, date, time, weather, impressions, temperature. It's also a huge bonus if you are good with people in general. You will often have to interview witnesses and getting them to open up to you is a handy skill to have.
  • Until you're more experienced and are serious about continuing paranormal investigations, don't spend lots of money on more expensive equipment such as EMF detectors (Electro Magnetic Field) or the latest gadget for recording fluctuations in temperatures. If you do invest, ensure that you know how to work these devices properly otherwise the data collected will be worthless - not to mention an expensive waste of your time.

So I hope you are now excited about your new interest and that it won't be long before you are on your first investigation. Who knows, maybe you are the one destined to find out what all this paranormal stuff is really all about?

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© 2012 Helen Murphy Howell


Submit a Comment

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi HoBoJimmy - many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub! Hope your now more relaxed!!! LOL!

  • HoBoJimmy profile image


    6 years ago

    AWESOME writing!

    For real, for real - GREAT job.

    You got me all worked up (LoL), this is an awesome Hub!

    Write On!

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi mperrottet, lovely to hear from you again.

    I agree that that unfortunatley there isn't many places in parapsychology - I think we really need a lot more as well. Having said that I think if you have studied psychology, this is always a huge bonus when investigating any alleged paranormal activity. Often the mental state of people can impact quite significantly on cases and so it can be hard to tell the difference between what people have witnessed is paranormal or emotional and so on.

  • mperrottet profile image

    Margaret Perrottet 

    6 years ago from San Antonio, FL

    Interesting hub. I have a degree in psychology, and was always very interested in the field of parapsychology. Not many places offer studies in this area, however. Voted Up and interesting.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi LW! As always it's a great pleasure to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub!

    Now that would be something worth reading - your own accounts! There are so many of us out here who would love to hear about your experiences with the paranormal! I hope that you do write them down at some point.

    I agree about the expense of the equipment, that's why I tell folks that if their ghost hunting exploits are only going to be a flash in the pan, then don't waste money on buying high tec gadgets. The problem also with the technology is that, like computers, they get upgraded so quickly and you would spend a fortune trying to keep up with it all - it can be a very expensive hobby. I think that's one of the main reasons that people form groups - to share the expense and it's a wise move.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Helena, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you found the hub interesting. I think it is a surprise to most folks just how much there is to learn and build up skills on - on the TV it looks easy - but the reality is, as usual, so different.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Gypsy, always lovely to hear from you my wise friend! I think you would make a great paranormal investigator! But I know what you mean about getting the time. The guys that I know who do this, fit investigations in around their regular jobs and holidays and sometimes they do need to take a break as it can catch up on you when you have family commitments, work and so on. So I really admire these people who investigate because they are so enthusiastic about the subject and without them we wouldn't know half of what we do now.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    That's the thing about the paranormal - I believe - it's a lot more rare than people think, well the genuine stuff at any rate. I've seen people scared out of there wits thinking there was some evil entity out to get them, when in fact all they need was a re-wiring job done in their home or a plummer to sort the pipes. But the thing is, just going from my own experience, when the real paranormal events do happen, there is no mistaking it at all. There is a few phenomena going on often at the same time and the atmosphere around you changes quite markedly. With natural events you don't get any changes like this at all.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Kashmir56, always a pleasure to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub!

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Maddie, many thanks for stopping by. Come to think of it, I've never seen it on TV either - how to become a researcher! With all the ghost hunting teams around at the moment you'd think they would have something on how to do the job properly.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Lilian, great to hear from you. If your a bit scared - like we all were when first starting - why not go for one of those great holiday weekends with a crowd for a ghost hunt. You do get the creeps and they take place in genuinely haunted locations, but it's more fun than dread.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Cathy my friend as always it's lovely to hear from you - I know you are a very busy and caring lady, so even a fleeing visit is an honour and I thank you for it!

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi moonlake, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub. I think you would make a great paranormal researcher. Most of the time the ghosts have come and gone before you realise it - so no time to be scared! LOL!

  • thelyricwriter profile image

    Richard Ricky Hale 

    6 years ago from West Virginia

    Voted up and all across but funny and beautiful. Awesome article my paranormal friend! I am down for this, have been for a long time. Loved this article and this is wise information Seeker7. I have wanted to document my own experiences for a while now. I just wish I had enough money to purchase all the right equipment. Paranormal technology has came a long way in recent years. Great job, loved it, and I am down:)

  • Helena Ricketts profile image

    Helena Ricketts 

    6 years ago from Indiana

    Very interesting hub! I had no idea that there was so much involved.

  • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

    Gypsy Rose Lee 

    6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

    Having had paranormal experiences and having a feel for the world beyond I found this fascinating. Perhaps I may have what it takes to be a researcher but having the time for travel and such is another matter entirely. Something I never thought about when I was in my 20s but if I had nothing could stop me. Thanks for this informative information. Passing this on.

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 

    6 years ago from San Francisco

    My house puts on quite a show. Unfortunately, my family didn't like it. It took me 2 years, but I found every sadly practical reason behind, what could have been wonder.

  • kashmir56 profile image

    Thomas Silvia 

    6 years ago from Massachusetts

    This is all great and interesting information within this well written hub, enjoyed reading this hub .

    Well done ! Vote up and more !!!

  • Maddie Ruud profile image

    Maddie Ruud 

    6 years ago from Oakland, CA

    I've seen paranormal investigators on TV, but I don't think I've ever read about how to become one! There's a wealth of great information here; I'm sure it will really come in handy for a lot of passionate people!

  • lilian1 profile image


    6 years ago from Hertfordshire England

    Great hub seeker 7 I am not brave enough to go on a ghost hunt but find the subject fascinating ! voted up :)

  • Lucky Cats profile image


    6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

    Helen, LIKED on FB...and LOVED reading AMAZE me with the incredible depth and study you give to each and every one of your hubs. All positive ups...and coming back to re read to absorb more of this...have to run now but...will return for more indepth "discussion" of your astounding studies!!!!!

  • moonlake profile image


    6 years ago from America

    Lots of good information for becoming a paranormal researcher. I could never be one I would run if a ghost showed up. My heart would stop! Voted Up.


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