Paranormal investigators research, document and provide intervention with forces that are beyond scientific understanding or laws of nature, often called paranormal or supernatural phenomena. Investigations might occur in a client's home, business or historical building. Some paranormal investigators do not charge for their services, while others accept payment for expenses, travel and lodging. Some paranormal investigators earn modest to significant incomes through writing books, teaching classes and participating in reality TV shows.
An Expensive Hobby
According to the Society for Paranormal Investigation, people who want to become paranormal investigators should keep their day jobs, because "ghost hunting is an expensive hobby or avocation at best," and that just breaking into the field is experiencing more success than 98 percent of other paranormal researchers. The society also states that due to the hours and expenses involved, those best suited to this work are people who seek personal enrichment and strive to help others.
Some paranormal investigators work for nonprofit organizations and do not charge for their investigative services. Although these investigators often do not accept donations, their organizations might. In general, the goals of these nonprofit organizations include raising public awareness and understanding about paranormal activity occurring in places such as people's residences, businesses and other buildings. Two examples of nonprofit paranormal investigation agencies are Frontrange Paranormal Investigations in Colorado and the Paranormal Awareness Society in Florida.
Books, Classes and TV Shows
Opportunities associated with paranormal investigations can earn money for investigators, such as writing books, presenting workshops and leading tours. For example, Devin Sisk, a paranormal investigator, and Donna Raymond, a paranormal sensitive, offer ghost walks to paying customers in Benicia, California. Some paranormal investigators earn money starring in reality TV shows, such as the members of the Paranormal Research Society, who conduct paranormal investigations in A&E's "Paranormal State." According to CNN Living, non-celebrity reality stars can earn four to six-figure salaries.
Sometimes private investigators who have an aptitude for paranormal investigations offer fee-based services, at either a flat or hourly rate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2009, the average annual salary for a private investigator was $47,130. PayScale reports that as of May 2011, the national hourly rate for a private investigator is between $12.59 and $50.49, with overtime rates between $10.13 and $51.06.
2016 Salary Information for Private Detectives and Investigators
Private detectives and investigators earned a median annual salary of $48,190 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, private detectives and investigators earned a 25th percentile salary of $35,710, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $66,300, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 41,400 people were employed in the U.S. as private detectives and investigators.