How to Become a Paranormal Investigator
The work goes by many names; paranormal researcher, paranormal analyst, ghost hunter, paranormal investigator, cryptozoologist or even parapsychologist, but how do you get into these fields?
There is no formal training, certifications or education involved in becoming a paranormal investigator. This has a lead to a great deal of controversy since paranormal phenomena are frequently investigated by people with no formal training in the scientific method, critical thinking or investigation practices. Most people break into the field by joining a local investigation group.
There are many organizations and groups that offer training for paranormal investigators and most of these are suspect. If you are looking for a good paranormal investigation training program look at organizations with a long history of involvement in paranormal research like ASSAP. Also look for programs that emphasize critical thinking, analysis and investigation methods. Many programs just teach about different theories for paranormal phenomena and while this may be interesting, it isn’t really useful for paranormal investigators.
And of course there is nothing to stop you from educating yourself. Read books, articles and magazines. Take college classes in related topics and become a competent investigator. Focus on topics like the history of paranormal research, learn about significant cases, learn about the logical fallacies, the scientific method, heuristics like Occam’s Razor, critical thinking and analysis and investigative techniques. Taking classes in crime scene evidence collection and forensics can be very helpful.
And of course you could always volunteer here with the Paranormal Analyst. There is plenty of research and investigation to do! Far more than I can keep up with alone.
Like paranormal investigators there are no official certificates or degree programs in cryptozoology. However many in the field have degrees in zoology, biology or related fields. There are few groups that study cryptozoology. Most cryptozoologists work alone and collaborate on certain projects or share insight on common websites. The best way to get started in this field is get a degree, network with existing cryptozoologists and start investigating!
Parapsychology is the study of paranormal phenomena and is the only path that offers degree programs. In other words if you are serious about the study of paranormal phenomena and want to make a career out of it, parapsychology is typically the best path. Becoming a parapsychologist is a long journey. You’ll spend many years in college and graduate school. Typically you should get your undergraduate degree in psychology from a reputable university then enroll in one of the few parapsychology doctoral programs.
Unfortunately, as a career, the field of parapsychology is limited. Grants are very small and only a few universities and institutions in the world support the research. You can see some of them here (scroll down to the parapsychology section).
The work is an uphill battle. Parapsychologists face constant criticism of their work from the rest of the scientific community. Much of your work will not be accepted by mainstream science and you will have to constantly defend your work. If you want to work as a part of the scientific community at large and do not enjoy being an outcast this field is not for you.
If you are serious about this career path pay close attention to a university’s accreditation. Make sure the institution is reputable and you are not wasting your time and money. Here is some more articles related to parapsychology:
UVA Careers in Parapsychology
Where can I get a degree or job in parapsychology?
Hints to Aspiring Parapsychologists
Parapsychology as a Career
Parapsychology programs in the US
University of Edinburgh (Scotland) Doctoral program in Parapsychology
Sofia University (San Francisco, CA) Doctorate of Transpersonal Psychology