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How To Become a Paranormal Investigator [Best Sites]

Guy McDowell 23-05-2009

how-to-become-a-paranormal investigatorIn case you don’t understand what I mean by ‘paranormal investigator’, I mean someone who tries to figure out if ghosts, spirits or other alleged phenomenon are responsible for certain events. When I first saw the term, I thought of Dirk Gently, the holistic detective from Douglas Adams’ books. Turns out he was just an abnormal investigator. That was too obscure of a reference for a joke, wasn’t it?


Since I am the self-proclaimed tin-hatter here at MakeUseOf, I’ll give you my take on how to become a paranormal investigator and some great sites to help you on the way. I’ll give you a hint to start with though – you better be a history buff and love hitting libraries and archives because that’s where the real action happens.

Psican.org [Broken URL Removed]

psican_logoYes, the first site I recommend is Canadian and that is pure coincidence. Or is it? *cue creepy music*

Paranormal Studies and Investigations Canada has a great site with tons of information. The information is well-organized and easy to read, even for a neophyte. Psican hosts a forum and has a membership base of localized research and investigation groups.  The group researches not only ghosts and hauntings, but U.F.O.’s , cryptozoology (weird animals like Bigfoot)  and psychic phenomena. I highly recommend it whether you are Canadian or not.

About.com – Paranormal Phenomena

aboutIt may seem like a bit of a cop-out to list About.com. However, if it’s good, I’m going to list it. Stephen Wagner, the About Guide for this topic, has a pretty extensive background, having written articles for many magazines and being a paranormal investigator with the Central New York Ghost Hunters.

The Atlantic Paranormal Society

tapsAlso known as TAPS, the gang over there are responsible for the show Ghost Hunters on the SciFi channel as well as Beyond Reality Radio. The link above will provide you with a treasure trove of information on parapsychology as well as some of the more religious aspects of the craft. Hey, where there are spirits, there are religious implications.


Ohio Paranormal Investigation Network

opinIt seems like a lot of these groups are located in the U.S. of A. I’m thinking it has to do with the fact that they are older than Canada. Yet, there doesn’t seem to be too many of these groups in Europe. Odd. I can’t explain that. Yet OPIN can explain the basics of a paranormal investigation quite well. Heed their advice to stay away from paranormal investigation courses that you have to pay for. All the information you need to get started can be found in books or on the web for free.


pi_orgI recommend this last site based on the strength of its list of paranormal investigators and groups. Perhaps the most important step in becoming a paranormal investigator is finding an established group and joining them. The process is much like an apprenticeship, where there are technical things to learn as well as the art of it all. It will take time to become part of the group and advance to the point where you might lead an investigation.

Go through these sites with a fine-tooth comb and learn as much as you can. Read what it takes to conduct an investigation – lots of time and sleepless nights. This is something that you do because you love it, since there really is no money to be made from it. If you are already a believer, you’ll have to tone that down as this is a field that is serious about being taken seriously and scientifically. If you aren’t a believer, heed the wisdom of Mark Twain, who said, “I don’t believe in ghosts, but that doesn’t make me any less afraid of them.”

If you can do this, who knows? Maybe you’ll be the first to uncover incontrovertible proof of the afterlife.


Bonus Site: Ghostfacers

gf-logoIf you haven’t seen or heard of the show Supernatural, then you are missing out on fiction’s second greatest ghost-hunting team – The Ghostfacers! They face ghosts when others will not, they even stay in the kitchen when the kitchen is hot! Yes, they are that serious. Hot kitchens are no source of concern for them. Go on over and pay them a visit – they need to get out more often.

If you’d like to go ghost hunting, Ryan will reveal how it’s done Go Ghost Hunting with Your Internet Browser Read More .

Had any ghostly experiences? Anything you’d like to add to the list? Any starter tips on how to become a paranormal investigator? Share it with us in the comments.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Brian D. Parsons
    March 14, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Stephanie, I agree with Guy's comments. Universal Class is a bit of merely an overview of the topic from what I see and there seems to be a concentration on tools and technology. Unfortunately, most of the "tech" associated with the ghost field is for entertainment purposes only or is merely speculative at best. Reliance on tools and tech tends to lead to assumption based investigations. I highly recommend Thomas Francis University for a nice rounded class on the topic written by someone I personally know and is a tremendous asset to anomalous research.


    These certifications mean nothing to the outside world as Guy pointed out; they are essentially just for us to have acknowledgement of completing the coursework. Being a "Certified Paranormal Investigator" essentially only means you took this specific course. I would recommend taking several different courses including the school I mentioned above in addition to reading on a variety of related subjects with a focus on the skeptical look at the paranormal as well as interview methods.

  2. Guy McDowell
    March 12, 2016 at 3:10 am

    I also highly recommending reading this guy's work and watching videos of his lectures. Brilliant man and an excellent lecturer. I've had the pleasure of sitting in on one at his university.

    Dr. Michael Persinger, Cognitive Neuroscience.

  3. Brian D. Parsons
    May 26, 2009 at 6:31 am

    While I did state on my site to be wary of online courses, there are a few out there that are worth the money in their education. Granted, most of the information IS on the internet some of these courses put all of this information together and present it to you in such a way that you can grasp many various concepts surrounding the research and education in place from over 125+ years of psychical research.

    Just be aware that a certificate of completion of a paranormal investigation or ghost hunting course (there is a difference in these terms believe it or not) does not qualify you in any way, act as a graduate program or degree of any sort, nor will it give you status in the field. It will bring you an education that takes most groups months, if not years or ever to obtain. Just do your homework on what is being provided for what you are paying.

    Try ParaNexus.org for starters.

    Brian D. Parsons
    Ohio Paranormal Investigation Network

    • Stephanie Barnes
      March 12, 2016 at 12:59 am

      I have a CEU certificate for Paranormal Investigation 101 from Universal classes should I do more schooling to become a certfied Paranormal Investigator?

      • Guy McDowell
        March 12, 2016 at 3:06 am

        There's no government recognized certificate for being a paranormal investigator.

        There are lots of courses and books about it, but any certificate you get really only means something to the group that gave it to you.

        If you want something recognized by government, you would need to do an undergrad degree at a recognized university or college. Psychology, physics, theology, electronics engineering...something related to either the mental, physical, or spiritual aspect.

        Then you would do a master's degree and become more specialized towards parapsychology. Something like cognitive neuroscience, specialize theology like demonology or hagiography, maybe history....

        Then you could do a Ph.D. and work it towards the paranormal in some very specific manner.

        At that point, the government might recognize you as an expert in a very specific aspect of paranormal research.

        Better bet? Keep reading, keep appying critical thinking to what you read, associate yourself with investigators and organizations with good reputations inside and outside of the paranormal research worlds.

        Contribute to the research with sound, well referenced articles and case-studies.

        In time, your expertise will develop and be recognized.

        There's no way to become a true expert without paying your dues and doing your time.

        But if you love it...it is always worth it!!!

  4. Kate
    May 25, 2009 at 12:25 am

    I just have to comment because I noted with delight the picture of the Ghostfacers and your reference to Supernatural (only the best show on TV). I love the Ghostfacers and the Winchesters and I really hope we get another Ghostfacers episode before the series finishes.

    Some people find it odd that a self avowed atheist and skeptic like myself can enjoy a show like Supernatural, but I just see it as fantasy and a good story.

    Alright, I'm finished derailing the comments now. :-)

  5. Joe Bennett
    May 24, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Personally I think that an article like this has no place here on makeuseof.com. Paranormal activity of any kind has NEVER been conclusively proven in controlled scientific studies.

    • Guy McDowell
      May 25, 2009 at 12:07 am

      Part of MakeUseOf.com's mandate is to bring to people free ways to use the Internet to accomplish their goals. With the recent increase in popularity of the topic, more people would like to check this sort of thing out. That's why I wrote the article.

      Science, as we know it today, inherently has difficulties with anything of a spiritual nature. Yet the modern scientific method owes much of its development to men of faith. Science is of the temporal and natural, it has a real hard time with the spiritual to begin with. I think the truth is in the balance of the two.

    • Kate
      May 25, 2009 at 12:19 am

      Why? I mean, I'm an atheist, and I don't believe in paranormal activity, but as far as I know this blog has never claimed to eschew all things supernatural. What about a list of online ghost hunting resources doesn't fit here? It's a list of online tools that people can make use of. Seems to fit to me.

    • Amber
      January 17, 2017 at 3:16 am

      You obviously have not watched many of the shows & videos that have caught unexplained activity with newer technology that can't be explained. Plus you'll never truly understand unless you actually are there to see it& feel it for your self!

  6. Proof of Afterlife
    May 24, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    You should look at the research of near death experiences where clinical dead people with flat EEG (no brain activity) report clear consciousness in their NDE.

    • Guy McDowell
      May 24, 2009 at 3:47 pm

      That kind of stuff is weird, isn't it? Look up some of the work that Dr. Persinger, of Laurentian University, has done. Very interesting. I'm not sure it's conclusive, but it is fascinating.