What traits make for a good paranormal investigator?
How do I become a paranormal investigator? Where do I look to join? Do I have what it takes? These might be questions you're asking yourself. After all you love the paranormal and have a healthy curiosity about the afterlife. Watching ghost hunting programs is quickly becoming a favorite evening or Sunday afternoon past-time. It's definitely a fun and adventurous activity. However, as with any new venture there are a few things to consider before you immerse yourself into the shadows and become a creature of the night.
For starters don't be fooled by the ever-so popular shows that feature intense investigators using flashy equipment with pretty lights and sounds. They suck us in like a moth to a flame. They take us on a dark, twisting-turning 30 minute adventure (18 minutes after commercials) that keeps us glued to the screen and hanging on every mysterious EVP. Well folks, in reality what you see is NOT what you get. Sure, these ghost shows roll out an audience approved fast paced, action packed, evidence filled bag of wonder right? Who wouldn't want to roll with these cool people solving mysteries and chasing apparitions all day?
What you don't think about is that the fans only see what magically occurs after days of filming, editing, traveling, researching, sleeping and sitting in the dark (talking to yourself sometimes) for hours on end. No one would enjoy watching all that and you're not to be blamed. The networks know what we crave and they spoon feed it to us. Which leads us back to answering the question what does it take? Well, lucky for you I have many of the answers. So sit back and take a few minutes to peruse the realities of this ever so popular activity often referred to as ghost hunting.
Team work- You'll be dealing with multiple personalities. Be prepared to meet the night owls, sensitives, empaths, serious and not so serious people, old and young. You name it we've got it! Investigators come from all different backgrounds and lifestyles. Find the strength to hang onto the one common thread that ties you all together, "The paranormal" You may not find your fit on a team the first try but eventually you'll find your place. It could be the first team or the fourth team but eventually, and if you don't give up, you'll find your fit. And when you do the team will run like a well-oiled machine.
Tech Savvy- It's not mandatory but its very helpful to you and your team if you have some basic computer knowledge. More teams are moving toward technology than ever before. Using basic software, web design, and editing programs makes you valuable to the team and it helps you keep up with your case files easily. Some teams are now opting to use multi-user software like google drive so every team member can go to one place to drop evidence and case data.
Patience- Back to personalities. You'll meet lots of people in the field. Client and team members all possess different qualities and you'll need to bite your tongue often. The paranormal community is flooded with many theories, ideas, stories, and opinions. Just remember to learn from what you take in and ask your team leader if you have questions. There are many sages in this field and its important to learn techniques. These long timers in the field have already refined a lot of the tools and processes they use. You can learn a lot from them. You'll need need the patience to listen over hours of audio from one location and then edit it all onto a software program. You'll find yourself sitting in one spot for hours listening for anything and hoping your equipment picks up evidence. Sometimes it does. many times it doesn't. There's also other team members data you'll all need to listen over to put together case report.
Integrity- You NEED to be truthful and honest for ethics rule this field. Now for the truth! There's a small dose of frauds, liars and cheats in this field. There are also a lot of investigators that only do half the job. The good news is that there are way more ethical investigators than there are phonies. Never fake your evidence. It's always best to run your evidence by a few other investigators. It's always better to be safe than sorry. A big part of handling paranormal cases involves helping people. This means going over every inch of evidence and researching everything you can on a location. There's really no room for not doing the leg work. If you don't want to then its not the field for you.
Safety- Never trespass on any property. It really needs no explanation. If you weren't given permission you do not belong there. wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Always travel in numbers, it's not safe these days whether your male or female to travel alone. If you open carry be sure to let your team mates and clients know. Many times investigators find themselves in unfamiliar areas or rough neighborhoods. Never investigate alone, especially at night.
Respect- Always have respect for your clients, other paranormal groups, your team mates and the locations you go to. Your negative actions can result in adverse consequences in this field resulting in upset team members and/or clients. Always remember there's a recorder running somewhere. So save your gossip about others for your pillow. Anything negative you say whether intentionally said to hurt or not travels like wildfire in the paranormal community.
Humility- 99 percent of investigators do not receive payment in this field. We offer all the tools and techniques we have to find the evidence and resolve a haunting but don't ever expect a pay check. Paranormal investigators sometimes offer up to 20 hours a week or more working on their teams website, investigations, marketing and research. That's not including time during investigations. Payment is the thrill of the haunt and helping the client.
Compassion- We come across all walks of people during our investigations. Some aren't tidy, some are sick or suffering ailments. Often times clients are feeling hopeless over the paranormal disturbances they're experiencing in their home. We cannot begin to feel or experience what someone else is going through. If you're kind, non-judgmental and compassionate then this field might be for you.
Thick skin- Many questions may arise from skeptics of the paranormal. Usually they come in the form of curiosity and often times evolve into an intelligent conversation about the mysteries of the after life. After these chats both parties usually walk way with a new respect for each other and knowledge gained. Be prepared for the opposite. There are plenty of people who don't care to ask about your theories and experiences instead they go right for the jugular. You'll sometimes hear people scoffing, laughing and doubters are plentiful. Just remember your love and passion for the paranormal. You have no one to impress but yourself. It's best to just respectfully decline in conversation with these types and walk away. They're not worth the time you'd spend to educate. With that being said, there will be many people who express interest and will love to hear the stories and information you have to share.
Equipment- Investigating is more than just buying equipment and rushing over to the client or nearest haunt. To start investigating the four best pieces of equipment you can have are a decent recorder (I'm partial to Olympus WS-852), noise-canceling headphones, a flashlight (mini mag-lite) and a camera/video. This should cost you very little to start out. Other good devices which you can buy along the way are the SB-11 (spirit box), a Rem-Pod (picks up magnetic fields around it) and a KII meter (activated by electric magnetic frequencies). Prices go up depending on how much or what type of equipment you purchase. Also, reliable transportation is always a plus.
So now let's answer that question "Do you have what it takes?" If you still want to become a paranormal investigator after reading about the inside of investigating I'd say reach out to a few teams in your area. You never know they might need someone just like you!
I'd love to hear from you whether you're an investigator or an aspiring investigator! What do you think it takes to be a paranormal investigator?