11 Strategies to Make Money with a Metal Detector

Metal detecting has become a popular hobby all over the world. Not only is it a great form of exercise, but it can also be rewarding in terms of the potential income you can make. Since it is so popular, how can you actually make money with metal detection as a hobby or a profession?

There are so many ways that you can make money while metal detecting. Some of these include more simple beachcombing strategies, while others may be more intense, such as forensics, archaeology, or recovery.

As technology progresses, there are so many ways to create a great side hustle. Let’s talk about whether metal detecting is a good source of income, how you can make money doing it, and things you should consider before you start.

11 Strategies to Make Money with a Metal Detector

Metal detecting can seem like a challenging hobby. Not only do you need to invest in a good quality detector to make your time worthwhile, but you also need to know where you to look and what you are looking for. Some of the first steps in metal detecting are to know what metal detector is right for you, where you can use your metal detector and strategies that make sense for you.

Some of the most common strategies to make money with a metal detector include: 

  • Coin Hunting
  • Jewelry Hunting
  • Cache Hunting
  • Relic Hunting
  • Gold Nugget Detection

These are all common in parks and beaches all over the world. While some may be more labor-intensive such as cache, relic, and gold nuggets, they are popular and practical strategies to make money.

If you have experience metal detecting and you are looking for something that may be more challenging, you may want to go into different strategies such as:

    • Working for Museums or Publications
    • Underwater Treasure Hunting
    • Forensic Detection and Recovery Services
    • Selling Older Metal Detectors 
  • Metal Detector Repairs and Refurbishments
  • Social Media Platforms

A lot of people who are avid metal detectors work with other museums, forensic teams, or publications to help them generate new and exciting content. While very exciting, underwater treasure hunting requires a completely different set of skills.

Depending on your level of knowledge or even physical activity, there are additional ways that you can make money:

  • You can sell older detectors to those who are looking to find an affordable device. 
  • You can also choose to repair or refurbish machines for others. 
  • Thanks to technology, you can also create a social media presence based on your metal detecting adventures. 
  • You can create YouTube videos, Instagram content, or even a blog sharing your tips and what you have found.

Can You Make Money with a Metal Detector?

Metal detector

Yes, you can! 

If you are dedicated to the task and are able to hunt in good locations, it is possible to make money from using your metal detector. 

There are many different strategies that you can use to make money, but the most essential aspect is that you need to have knowledge about what you are doing. 

Not only will studying help you figure out where and how to use your metal detector, but it can also help you figure out what you are looking for, and what is worth your money.

The critical thing to remember is that this hobby takes time to get good at. Chances are you are not going to find hundreds of dollars of treasure in your backyard, but over time, you may be able to figure out where the most beneficial place for you to hunt will be. 

The key is to do your research and make sure you are out in the world getting practice. Your metal detector may find junk some of the time, but you never know when it is going to turn out to be something that is valuable. 

Although this article features eleven strategies, there are hundreds of unique ways that you may discover when using your metal detector. When it comes to your own treasuring hunting abilities it would be best if you never were afraid to try:

  • New areas, 
  • New machines, and 
  • New ideas.

How Much Money Can You Make?

Woman holding 100 dollar bills.

This is a difficult question to answer because it really is up to you. 

While most people use their metal detector as a hobby that occasionally is profitable, others may use it as a full-time career and have it be their only form of income. You can make anywhere from a couple of dollars finding money or jewelry to potentially thousands for finding relics or treasure.  

If you are selling your finds to local shops or individuals, you can expect a smaller return on most items. If, on the other hand, you are working with a museum or a publication, then you have better chances that your return on investment is going to be much larger and much more valuable.

Before you take up hunting with a metal detector, try and figure out where you will sell the items you find. This can give you a better idea of how much money you can make over time.

Is a Metal Detector a Good Investment?

If you ask anyone who is currently metal detecting as a hobby or as a profession, the first thing they are going to tell you is that you need to invest in a quality device. 

A good quality metal detecting device can help you make sure that you are spending your time wisely while you are hunting and not just finding junk. 

If you have ever heard the phrase “you have to spend money to make money,” this is one of those instances where that statement holds true.  

Depending on where you are hunting for metal or treasure and what you are hunting for has a lot to do with the type of metal detector you pick up. 

While you can purchase a metal detector for under one-hundred dollars, chances are pretty strong that: 

  • You are going to have to replace that device soon, 
  • It is not going to find what you are looking for, or 
  • It may be the wrong tool for the job ultimately. 

There are three main types of metal detectors to choose from:

  • Land-based Coin and Relic Hunting Devices
  • Beach and Underwater Detection Devices
  • Gold and Silver Detecting Devices

Something to consider when purchasing your metal detecting device is that if you are searching in the right places, you will make up for the machine’s cost. 

You also may be able to find a better-quality machine at a discounted rate from someone who may be upgrading or getting out of the industry. 

The better your machine is, the higher your return on investment is likely to be.

Where Can You Use a Metal Detector?

Man metal detecting on the beach.

When it comes to using your metal detector, location is everything. Knowing where to hunt for the best rewards and where you can legally use your device are essential aspects of operating your metal detector. 

Some of the most common places to use your metal detectors are: 

  • Parks, 
  • Forests, 
  • Beaches, and 
  • Almost anywhere! 

You want to choose areas that are well-traveled to help increase your chances of finding something valuable.

You can find treasure almost anywhere, but you need to realize that you cannot hunt on private property without permission. Some parks and beaches also have limitations on whether or not you can use metal detectors. 

If you are unsure about the restrictions in a particular area, make sure you talk to someone about metal detecting before you just start. Hunting on private property without permission is illegal.  

You can get creative with a metal detector. 

Digging Deeper13 Common Places To Go Metal Detecting

11 Strategies to Make Money

Now it is time to get into the good part. 

These eleven strategies are very common in the metal detecting industry, and they can help you find money or even make money while you are using your metal detector. 

Some of these are tried and true methods, while others may be more new-aged and considered to be modern approaches.

Suppose you have family, friends, or coworkers with a unique piece of property. Ask them if you can use your metal detector there. 

If you find something of value, offer to split the total value of items you find while searching on their property. That way, you are getting to use your metal detector to make a profit, and you are helping out friends and family too!

Coin Hunting

Finding a coin in the ground.

Coin hunting is probably the most common way people use their metal detectors. 

Coins can be found in parking lots, parks, beaches, even your own yard. You also are directly looking for money, which means that you are at least going to make something. Depending on where you search, you may even end up finding older coins that are actually worth more than the face value.

If you are just getting into using a metal detector, this may be a great place. Your average metal detector will help you find coins in many local areas. If you are trying to train yourself to be a better hunter, you can also throw down coins in your own backyard to test your device’s accuracy and as some extra practice for you.

Digging Deeper: Beginners Guide to Metal Detecting For Coins


Jewelry Hunting

Jewelry hunting is another widespread use for your metal detector. You can typically use them in the same locations as you would if you were hunting for coins or metal scrap. 

The good thing about jewelry hunting is that what you are looking for is typically going to be worth more than a few cents. With permission, some great places to find jewelry are: 

  • Beaches, 
  • Parks, and even
  • Stadiums.

If you choose to hunt for jewelry, you need to have a good understanding of the quality of jewelry so you have a rough idea as to how valuable different items may be. 

While you are likely to find jewelry with your metal detector, not everything is valuable. To increase the chances of you finding something valuable, make sure your device is set to signal for metals such as: 

  • Gold, 
  • Silver, 
  • Platinum, and 
  • Bronze. 

Digging Deeper: 5 Best Places to Metal Detect For Jewelry


Cache Hunting

People have been hiding their valuables in various locations for centuries. 

Not only was it an excellent way for individuals to save their treasures for desperate times, but it also kept them safe.

Although cache hunting seems similar to coin or jewelry hunting, you may need different equipment and a better idea of where to look for items. Cache hunting can often fall into the realm of actual treasure hunting.

If you are looking to use this strategy, make sure you are familiar with the area where you are searching and have an idea of what you are looking for. 

Often times, you can find information about the potential cache of treasure you are looking for by talking to locals or doing some online research. 

You also may need to invest in a metal detector that searches further into the ground.

Relic Hunting

If you are focused on the historical aspect of metal detecting, then relic hunting is full of opportunity for you. 

Relic hunting is similar to cache hunting in that it requires a lot more work before you ever get out there. It would be best if you had a good idea of what the area is like in terms of: 

  • Geographical location, 
  • Its history, and 
  • what you may or may not find. 

Many relic hunters utilize old maps that can help them establish where ruins of former villages are located.  

One downside to relic hunting is that the areas that are worth searching are often located on private property. 

Hunting in historical regions means that you are going to be required to get permission to hunt on the lands, and permission to take anything that you may find. 

Make sure that you reach out to the owners of the property before you put in all of the research.

Gold Nugget Detection

Gold nuggets

Finding gold has been one of the draws of the wilderness for years. 

Not only is there still gold to be found after the gold rushes that have occurred through time, but thanks to the use of metal detectors, it is easier than it ever has been. 

Although it is rare for you to find a big chunk just out in the open, with some hard work, it can be a rewarding strategy for those looking to make money with their metal detector. 

Some of the most popular places to look for gold are at old panning sites and secluded mountain areas. 

Hunting for gold is a time-consuming process, which is why many modern hunters have moved onto things such as coins or jewelry. It requires a lot of work to know where you need to look, and it requires a keen eye to be able to identify gold of various sizes.

If you want to try your hand at finding gold with a metal detector then you will want to check out my review of the Fisher Gold Bug 2 Metal Detector. This a metal detector made specifically for metal detecting for gold.

Digging Deeper: The Sound of Gold: What to Listen to on a Metal Detector


Working For Museums or Publications

If you are looking to make more of a career out of using your metal detector, then you may want to look at museums or publications. 

Many of these have their own sort of research team that travels to different locations. 

Often, they may need someone familiar with a particular area or just skilled in finding certain objects. The benefit here lies in the contract that you can establish with the museum or the publication. 

You can split the earnings from the find of a relic, treasure, or whatever you may discover. 

Depending on who you work with, you may also be able to create a freelancing career off of helping them find or discover new items to display or to feature in the content they create. 

Metal detectors are also currently being used by many museums to work alongside archaeologists to better record historical sites.

Underwater Treasure Hunting

One of the more complex strategies to make money with a metal detector is for underwater hunting. 

Not only are you going to require an entirely new set of skills in terms of swimming, possibly scuba or snorkeling, and the ability to recover and observe different forms of treasure, but you are also going to require a completely different set of equipment. 

You have to worry about the amount of weight you are carrying while you are diving and your equipment staying in good shape.

With that being said, it is one of the less saturated sides of using a metal detector as either a hobby or as a profession. 

Due to the strenuous conditions, your chances of finding something that has been lost at sea or in a lake or river is much higher. People are continually losing their valuables in water bodies to this day.

Digging Deeper: How To Metal Detect Underwater


Forensic Detection & Recovery Services

Metal detectors are a crucial tool used in many crime scenes and forensic situations. Not only can they find evidence at a quicker rate than just using officer-based teams, but they can also accurately process a scene. 

While you cannot just walk into a secure location and start hunting, chances are a local forensic team, or a police force may need someone who knows how to use a metal detector.

If you are looking to make money with your metal detector, this can be a great way to make a career out of your hobby. 

You are likely to need additional training but knowing how to use a metal detector can be helpful. 

If you are looking just to help people find their lost items, you may also be able to start your own side business as a recovery specialist for those who have lost things in different locations.

Selling Older Metal Detectors

If you are someone who is expanding the strategies they use in order to make money while metal detecting, you may also want to consider the opportunity to sell your old devices. 

While you may not get the same return on your used metal detector, you will get something that you can put toward a new device. 

Depending on where you live, you also may be able to find older metal detectors in pawn stores, or from other people who are also into metal detecting as a hobby or as a profession.

Repairing & Refurbishing Metal Detectors

If you are familiar with metal detectors of all sorts, you may be able to find a side hustle in repairing and refurbishing worn out machines. 

While everyone who owns a metal detector may know how to go out into their local park and find something, they do not always know what to do when their machines mess up. 

Chances are that regional offices in your area also have devices that you may be able to fix to help turn a profit.

Social Media Platforms

One of the more unique ways that you can make money with your metal detector is by starting a presence online.

You can use platforms such as YouTube and Instagram to post videos or images of your journey. 

Not only can you gain support from those who like the content you create, but you can also monetize both of those platforms. 

You can run ads on videos to boost your income, and you can again do sponsored content from brands, locations, or even individuals. 

Things You Should Consider Before Going Into Metal Detecting

Although it may seem easy to make money with a metal detector, there are certain aspects of doing it as a hobby or as a profession that you may want to consider before purchasing your initial detector. 

While some of these may seem to be familiar, there are others you may not have thought about before.

Permission to Hunt

permission written on a chalk board

A common misconception is that you can use your metal detector anywhere. 

The truth is, most of the prime locations that you would want to search may have laws against using metal detectors or are even private property. 

You can usually find guidelines for most public areas so you can be clear about what you can do on the property. But if you are hoping to search, private homes, or land, you will need to get permission to use your metal detector at that location. 

Often times, the owner of the land may have restrictions about what you can and cannot take.

Digging Deeper: Legal Metal Detecting: Do You Need a License?


Quality of Your Detector

While it may seem like a good idea to get a cheap device to start out, that will most likely restrict what you can actually find. 

Specific devices are not registered to find different types of metals. If you are using a cheaper detector, the chances are strong that the machine’s accuracy may be lower than if you were to invest in a high-quality detector. 

Think of the cost of your device as an investment toward your future discoveries.

The Popularity of Detecting in Your Area

What most people do not take into consideration before getting into metal detecting is how popular it is in their area. 

If you have a high percentage of people who are using metal detectors in your area, you may not be able to find as much as someone who lives in a place where the pursuit is not as popular. 

You may find yourself having to travel further to have a successful hunt. If the area you live in is known for having valuables, you may also find yourself having to deal with tourists as well.

Lack of Knowledge or Experience

As with any new skill, metal detecting definitely has learning curves. 

These can often appear in: 

  • Device usage, 
  • Location scouting, and even 
  • Being able to identify what is valuable and what is not. 

The best way to get good at metal detecting is to get out and practice. You can do this in public areas, friends’ land, or even your own backyard. There are also multiple educational resources that you can find on YouTube or with a quick Google search.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to metal detecting, it may seem like a hobby that you can do in your old age. The truth is that it is a viable hobby that can actually help you create another stream of income to support yourself at any age. 

While it is not a get rich overnight plan, there are multiple ways that you can make money with a metal detector. As with any new skill or hobby, you need to make sure that you are getting the right tool for the job. 

Investing in a good-quality metal detector will not only increase your chances of finding valuable items while on your journey, but it also expands the areas and valuables that are you are able to find. 

Metal detectors can be used almost anywhere if you are using them: 

  • With permission, 
  • Knowledge of the area you are working in, and 
  • With some patience and determination. 

The strategies listed above are not the only ways to make money with a metal detector. 

Once you start you may find that there are new items to hunt for, new places to try, and even more unique ways that are better suited to the style of metal detection that you are most comfortable with. 

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