Make money metal detecting 400

Can You Make a Living Metal Detecting?

Make a living metal detecting

Practicing the hobby that you love on a daily basis is awesome. But making a living from a hobby you’re passionate about is such a dream come true! This applies perfectly to Metal Detecting, indeed many people who enjoy this hobby are wondering whether it is possible to make a steady income from it.

That’s why; I’ve decided to write this post to answer completely this question! In fact, I asked 100 people practicing this activity on a daily basis and I will share with you their thoughts …

So, can you make a living metal detecting? It is possible to earn a living, but it is usually very hard to do so. In fact, it depends on so many factors … This includes how experienced you are, the metal detector you are using, the locations you are exploring, your dedication for this activity and even how smart you are about marketing your finds and services.

When I asked this question to dozens and dozens of hobbyist, most of them were not so optimistic about that! Which is totally normal, yet this doesn’t reflect the reality. There are ways to work around that and make money in a smart way.

I’ve asked 100 Detectorists, here is what they had to say!

After asking that much people, I would say about 70 of them said no it is not possible! 20 have said yes under conditions … and only 10 were completely optimistic by confirming that it is totally possible.

Here are some funny statements they’ve said! Which also reflect what they actually think …

“That would require selling my finds ….. And that ain’t happening’”

“Yes it is possible, only if rusty iron and cow tubes suddenly become worth a fortune!”

“Depends on if you can live on £5.00 a week or not”

“That’s definitely my dream job. If you could get sponsored and maybe a TV show”

“Yes, you can by focusing on gold and gemstones, and then you can just sell them”

“That would be a dream comes true. I’ll be good digging in any dirt for Relics , artifacts , fossils as long as I’m digging and getting my hands dirty! WHAT A BLESSING!”

“You shouldn’t want that anyway, it’s a hobby, history, socializing at digs or going out on your own wandering fields. When the money comes into play it kills the hobby in my opinion”

This is a sample of their answers! This reflects different opinions, but shows also that if these people could see openings they would definitely go for it!

Don’t get discouraged by those who don’t believe in that! Everything was impossible until somebody makes it happen…

How to make money metal detecting?

To start making serious money out of this activity, you need to consider it first as a hobby! You need to be passionate about and practice it consistently under different circumstances …

… By doing so, you will make lot of mistakes! Thus you will gain enough experience to start targeting profitable locations and targets properly.

Then you could opt for one of these options:

1. Work for Museums

There are some museums who would love to cooperate with professional metal detectors to empower their display. Generally, if you get the chance to work for a museum the permission to work in battlefields or civil war sites won’t be an issue.

The museum could even give you a legit metal detector which makes that even interesting.

To come up with relics and old stuff that you could sell for museums, you will need a detector that have the ability to detect that! A good example is the Fisher F44 (Check it Here on Amazon!)

2. Underwater Metal Detecting

Underwater Metal Detecting is an obscure aspect of this hobby, yet it is highly profitable! Usually swimmers tend to lose tons of jewelry while swimming. If you can get a permission to detect underwater you should obligatory use some specific equipment.

This includes mainly an underwater or waterproof metal detector, a stainless sand scoop and even diving suit if you are planning on diving.

Underwater Metal Detecting is a bit harder that land MD, but it is totally worth it!

Keep in mind that to be able to detect underwater, you will need a fully submersible machines! My favorite one is the Minelab Equinox 800 (Check it Here on Amazon!). It does a very good Job and brings some serious technology to the table!

3. Get paid to do recoveries

People lose their items outdoor on a daily basis! This represents a great opportunity if you want to help them recover what they’ve lost.

A perfect example of this is the ring finders, they are a group of professional detectorists who help people recover their properties. Such as rings, keys, jewelry …

There are many testimonials of people thanking them for recovering their things.

4. Help for Underground work

There are some people who desire to perform plumbing on their backyard for example. A huge mistake on their behalf would be not caring about the electrical wire and copper pipes underground. Indeed, they need to locate them precisely so they won’t damage them while digging.

Here comes your role, if you can offer your services, you could easily help these people locate the pipes accurately. Thus, you will get compensated generously …

5. Get Smart Permissions

Instead of focusing on locations that don’t require permission or getting easy permissions that anybody can get. It’s better to focus on permissions (even if they may be a bit difficult to get) that allow you to find better targets. Even if you had to negotiate sharing the value of your finds!

Places that usually hold massive events like city parks are great locations you should aim for. You will accumulate lot of coins and from time to time if you are lucky enough a piece of jewelry.

In this case, digging is not necessary at all, most of your finds will be on the surface. Thus, you don’t even need a fancy detector for that.

6. Forensic work

I don’t know what degree you should get to join the police. But as far as I know forensic police for example use metal detectors at crime scenes to locate bullet shells/knives etc …

7. Selling Detectors

After many years of practice, you will most likely use all sorts of machines in all sorts of conditions. You should probably take advantage of that …

… Indeed, many people today are not sure what metal detector they should use depending on their budget, expectations and ground conditions. You could sell them advice on what machine to choose, and you could even sell them the machine itself.

At this point, you won’t only make a living; you could even build a business around that. That could be seriously profitable.

8. Youtube

Honestly, I don’t have significant experience when it comes to Youtube. But, I’ve heard about couple YouTubers who do make a living from exhibiting their finds and detecting journey. Certainly they don’t make millions, but they make significant money.

This leads them to other business opportunities to supplement their income even further. By signing with sponsors for example.

How much Money can you make Metal Detecting?

This depends on how much time are you willing to spend metal detecting. Also on the locations you are exploring …

Strangely, it’s harder on land than the water. Caribbean treasure explorers rely heavily on metal detectors (and a host of other technologies) and some of them have earned a lucrative income (several thousands of dollars).

For Land Metal Detecting, unless you get lucky finding a gold ring for example! Usually, you can earn up to 20 bucks worth of finds daily and can go from there. But honestly this depends on many things …

If you work for a museum or police, you will be paid a monthly wage! This depends on your experience and the country you are living in. Probably also on your performances.

Youtubers doesn’t make millions as I’ve said before, but I think they make  …maybe 50 – 100k a year.

If I had the chance to talk to one of them, I will certainly update you on this post.

Treasure hunting and gold prospecting for a living …

This is another aspect of the subject! It could include using a metal detector as well as not using it. But using a metal detector could really give you a real edge over the competition.

A possibility would be to use a large boat and diving equipment and detect pirate treasure in international waters. I don’t know how this sounds realistic for you, but it is an option that may be available in your country or state.

There is a guy in Australia just last week I believe who found a gold nugget the size of a baseball. The value of it was a years wage of average people.

Garrett AT Gold

There are some people who target straight up old mines! For that, you should do some researches to know about near old mines so you can target them. Also, you should not be conservative while detecting gold and other valuable metals! In other words, opt for the best gold machines out there like the Garrett AT Gold (Check it Here on Amazon!)

These detectors require a long learning curve, but once you’ve learnt your machine the sky is the limit!

For more info about this Topic, I invite you to have a look at this Gold Prospecting Article! I am sure you will learn a ton of helpful info to come across Gold finds in an efficient way!

Factors that won’t let you make money Metal Detecting

In the previous paragraphs I wanted to spread your vision on different possibilities to make a living MD. Or at least make significant money that could serve as a complementary income.

Now, I would like to share some factors that won’t help you to reach this goal!

  • Lack of experience: Unless you’ve got years and years of practice behind you, you just should not think about living out of it.
  • Permission: Generally, locations that require permission to detect in are the ones that hold the most value. That’s why, if you struggle to get permission for lucrative sites, you probably won’t make it.
  • Locations that lack of history: There are some cities and locations that don’t represent a significant history. This means that the finds, if any, will be low quality in term of value!
  • Can’t get a legit metal detector: Don’t consider your machine as a liability, you should rather consider it as an investment. If you use a cheap one, you will miss on over 85% of valuable finds. This may be worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
  • Bad ground conditions: If the grounds in your city or around it are always soaked, or are full of junk metals or creepy iron! This could cause a serious confusion as this will prevent you from finding valuable items.
  • Lack of creativity: Finding something valuable then selling it is the classical way to make money with this hobby. Sometimes this can’t be possible for the reasons I’ve said above and maybe others. Thus if you are not creative enough by using youtube, selling equipment, selling advice, selling services … you probably won’t be able to make money.

Hopefully, you are aware of these pitfalls!

Reasons why you should not do Metal Detecting for a Living …

In this paragraph, I am not aiming to discourage you, I just want you to be aware that this is a coin with 2 sides. Also making a living is not for everybody only for few people and that the real pleasure is when you practice metal detecting for fun.

People in this hobby who are the most successful tend to be the ones that have the passion for both the activity as well as the finds. That passion is what fuels the motivation. If you were to sell everything and a good or great find was just a sum of cash… and not like the great paydays would come often…I think that person would not have the willpower to do what it takes and keep at it through all the bad days. I think the better way to look at it is not making a steady income, but finding that one find worth many thousands.

In addition, ask yourself this! Can you afford your rent / mortgage if you go full time detecting? Can you cover bills, car insurance, and running costs if you go full time detecting?

As someone who detects most days of the week, and is relatively successful and has a lot of ground, I feel fairly confident in saying it’s not that viable. If you could gain some sort of sponsorship or marketing budget, or run a group, then it might be possible. My advice would be to enjoy the hobby for what it is. An enjoyable past time with the chance of finding something special every once and a while.

I want also to add this, not many people have made money out of their hobby and continued to enjoy it. Think about it – the pressure will be to find stuff every day to pay for your food, clothing, mortgage etc. You find nothing, you starve!

Back in the 1970s the magazines (By the way, Check these metal detecting magazines) used to feature three people every month who were described as ‘professionals’. I seem to remember even back then that there was a lot of debate as to whether it was possible to metal detect for a living and the general consensus of opinion was that it was not. Some people I knew at that time and who were out a lot and often making nice finds were able, some years, to pay for a holiday or maybe a new car but it would never have entered their heads to try and rely solely on any money coming in from the hobby.


To sum up, I didn’t want to be too much optimistic about the concept of making money with this hobby. Also, I didn’t want to be too much pessimistic! I tried to give you all the options and possibilities and what it takes to get there!

So you will be able to take you own decision!

Hopefully, you’ve learnt something new! If so, it would be awesome if you share this post with others to spread value …

Now I really want to hear from you!
Did you ever thought about making a steady income from this hobby?
What do you think about that?
After reading this article, what are you planning on?

Share your thoughts on the comment section below; I am looking forward to that …

About the Author

Carissa Harmer

Carissa is the huge metal detecting enthusiast that loves collecting coins. She is also highly interested in other treasure hunting activities like magnet fishing and gold prospecting/panning.