Treasure Hunting for a Living: Is It Even Possible?

Ever considered treasure hunting for a living? Of course you have. Want to know how to make money with your metal detector? Of course you do. And while you may not be able to full time living off your finds, there are other ways to make your living as a treasure hunter.

Who hasn’t fantasized about traveling the world to exotic locales, deciphering cryptic maps left behind by ancient civilizations long forgotten, locating priceless artifacts hidden for centuries – all whilst seducing beautiful women and fighting the Nazis?


Wait. That’s Indiana Jones. And even HE never made a living as a treasure hunter. He worked as a professor of archaeology, remember? In fact, he didn’t view those artifacts as treasure at all. “It belongs in a museum!”

Back in the real world, most hunters we know also claim they don’t do it for the money. As one member of puts it…

“If we all figured an hourly wage, most of us are below poverty for a wage. I do not detect to become rich, I do it for enjoyment.”

For all the hours we’ve put into the hobby of metal detecting, that certainly holds true. We’re not doing it to get rich. For our part, we enjoy the mystery involved… Who did this object belong to? What did it mean to them? What is the history here? Did they throw it away on purpose? Or did they lose it accidentally?

And yes… every once in a while, it occurs to us that we might ask the question: “What is this worth?”

If you’re in it for more than the thrill of the hunt and the calming solitude of the search, it is possible to earn some extra spending scratch along the way, or maybe even a full-time living. But we think it’s important to temper your expectations…

You’re Probably Not Going to Get Rich

We hate to break it to you, but you’re most likely not going to strike it rich when you go detecting. In fact, you’re probably going to end up in the hole.

No, not a literal hole that you dug while searching for a target. THE hole. The red. The negative. Minus dollars.

Between gas, wear and tear, equipment, and time spent – you’re almost certainly going to be spending more than you’re making.

BUT – there are a few ways to monetize your hobby. So without further ado…

Top 5 Ways to Make Money Metal Detecting

1. Join the RingFinders

RingFinders is a service for those who have lost something valuable and/or sentimental – like a wedding ring. They use the directory to locate a specialist near them (that could be YOU), and that specialist comes and attempts to find the ring. If they do, they charge a small fee. How much? Every RingFinder sets their own rate and conditions, but the average seems to be around $25.

Want to join? Find out if you’re eligible.

SIDE NOTE: There ARE some detectorists out there who turn their noses up at the prospect of profiting from the misfortune of others. They believe that if a person has lost something that is precious to them, detecting for that person should be an act of generosity – and not an opportunity to make a quick buck.

On the contrary, there are others who take a more enterprising approach. They have a marketable skill, and the prospective customer has a need. So why shouldn’t that detectorist be fairly compensated for his time and a job well done?

It’s not our place here at Treasure Trackr to take sides on this issue. Everyone has to decide for themselves on what they are comfortable with – including the customer.

2. Detect for Law Enforcement

To properly comb a crime scene without contaminating evidence, your local LEA will often resort to a hands off method. Metal detecting is the ideal way to make sure nothing gets overlooked if it’s forensically valuable. Police are looking for lead projectiles, brass shell casings, tossed weapons, and other evidence not in plain view.

Shouldn’t the officers do it themselves? Here’s a member of the Metal Detecting Forum

Saw a local newscast yesterday and an officer was looking for evidence with what appeared to be an Ace 150. The cable hung loose without being wrapped around the shaft. The officer was searching over asphalt! She was obviously looking for bullet casings which should have been visible. I wanted to lend her a hand. It was embarrassing. 

So yeah. They might need some outside help.

But it should be pretty easy money if you can get the gig – fresh crime scenes mean very shallow targets or even surface finds. A basic model – something like an ACE 250 – would be plenty of machine for a situation like that. Just fire it up and away you go!

The best way to find out about jobs with the police? Cold calling. Simply call your local precinct and flat out ask. Or you could drop by in person and leave a business card.

3. Start a YouTube Channel

Instead of making money from selling your finds or selling your services, make it from selling eyeballs instead.

Submitted for your approval…

The YouTuber AquaChigger. This man has turned his YouTube channel into an empire of content – content which is then monetized using ads, affiliate products, and donations (via Patreon). The channel has well over one million subscribers.

Here’s an adventurer who documents his excursions on video, most of which he records himself with a GoPro. You can do the same. This guy is far from the only detectorist uploading videos. There are dozens, hundreds. All you need to do is bring you own unique perspective to this hobby and cash in!

4. Buy, Sell, and Trade

While you may not be able to make a full-time living from your finds, you can certainly do it by selling metal detectors and ancillary equipment. If you’re savvy about what things cost, then you’ll know how to spot a good deal.

Where can you go to get started? Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Letgo, OfferUp. Flea markets, garage sales, pawn shops are all places you should be looking locally.

5. Repair

Metal detectors are generally built to last a long time. Especially the bigger brands like White, Garrett, and MineLab. But occasionally, they break down.

Are you handy? Do you know your VLF models from your BFO models? Why not hang out your shingle as a metal detector repairer?

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