Probably not. Although there is no shortage of ghost hunters out there—or of people who believe in ghosts (according to one poll, 22% of Americans have seen or felt a ghost)—the industry appears more for hobby than profit.

Stacey Jones, a former cop of 12 years who is the founder of Central New York Ghost Hunters, takes her research seriously and laments the recent flood of “ghost groupies” who attempt to do paranormal investigations without doing their homework first. She has read more than 5,000 books on the subject, given lectures and even hosted “ghost walks”—serving as a guide for tourists seeking the supernatural. Four years ago, her own son underwent an exorcism. Her organization boasts more than 100 active members and receives, on average, eight requests a day for help with ghost issues—she normally takes on about two of those cases each day, but she doesn’t charge for her services. “Any ghost hunter that charges is being ridiculous because there’s no proof that this exists,” Jones explained.

Generally, her clients are “people in crisis”—some of whom have scratches and physical harm done to them by nonphysical entities.

L’Aura Hladik of the NJ Ghost Hunters Society says her group has 674 members and offers a four-hour intensive training program (from 10 p.m.-2 a.m.) where students learn about EVP, improve their videography skills and try out the latest EMF and thermal scanning techniques—both of which are used to track down ghosts. Those who successfully pass the program can call themselves “Certified Paranormal Investigators,” although it is important to remember that there is no official accreditation body for ghost hunters. Expect to pay $125 for Hladik’s supernatural crash course.

Both Jones and Hladik agree that ghost hunting is a calling rather than a profession—if you are looking to strike it rich or become famous, this is not the field for you (although Hladik has received national media attention from the likes of The Montel Williams Show and FOX’s Morning Show with Mike and Juliet). Frankly, one of the only ways people can hope to make money in this field is by getting a book deal or, if you’re really lucky, landing a reality show like Ghost Hunters on Syfy.  Anyone who wants to open up an actual ghost busting business, however, is going to be greeted with some skepticism, and might even be ostracized by the ghost-believing community.

We couldn’t resist asking Jones a few pointed questions. Why do ghosts continue to harass the living? “I don’t know why, there are theories out there that they aren’t actually human,” she told us, suggesting they may be demons or some other variety of paranormal ne’er-do-well.

At this point, the journalist in us got annoyed, so we asked Jones for some hard proof that ghosts exist in the first place. Scratches and bruises have causes other than demonic visitation, after all.

“There’s a difference between a skeptic and a cynic,” she told us, saying that as long as we remained intelligent skeptics, rather than cynics with an agenda, there was some evidence that would interest us. Jones explained that EVPs—electronic voice phenomenon—provided serious proof of ghosts’ existence. In one case, her group heard a voice on a recording device that provided its name. Jones said the group was able to confirm that this deceased individual had been a patient at an old tuberculosis hospital established in the mid-1700s, as the voice had stated.

Spooky. If you are tempted to hone your ghost hunting skills, Jones says it is crucial to do your research before joining a group in your area. “Check out the group, their history, find out exactly what gives them the credentials for starting up a group.”

What do you think? Do ghosts actually exist or is ghost hunting a fool’s errand? Let us know in the comments.

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