Can You Make Money With a Metal Detector?


Metal detecting can be a lot of fun and it can also bring in some serious coin. For most people, this is going to be a hobby, but for some, it’s a full-time job. Let’s take a look at what it takes to make money with a metal detector.

Metal detecting can make money by finding rare items and coins. Up until 1964, many coins in the US were made with silver and gold. With a metal detector, you can find old coins that are worth their weight in these precious metals, as well as expensive items, like sunglasses and jewelry.

I spend a couple of days a week hunting for old coins with my metal detector. I’ve found hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of coins and jewelry. The best part about this hobby is that it’s easy to learn and easy to get started.

Most people are not going to make a full-time living off of a metal detecting, but if you have the hustle, and you know how to do the research, it can bring in a stack of cash every month.

Can You Make a Living Out of Metal Detecting?

Making a living metal detecting can be a tough business. However, believe it or not, this can be a full-time gig. There are full-time metal detectorists who make a living by metal detecting 40+ hours a week. Just like with anything, you have to put in the work.

With the right research and work ethic, you can bring in some real cash with a metal detector. Many of the ways people make money metal detecting are kept very secret, the places to go, the way to research, and more.

The people who earn the most, are those who do not just look for coins and relics, they look for expensive sunglasses, lost phones, jewelry, and more. They look in places where wealthy people spend a lot of time, like resorts, beaches, and hotel grounds. Some people use metal detectors for gold prospecting, which can be very lucrative.

See our article for Can Metal Detectors Detect Gold here.

You may have had the idea in your head that people make their money metal detecting by finding old shipwrecks, and buried pirate treasure, but this is usually not the case. Most countries have laws against disturbing archeological sites and require you to report artifacts. How many people are metal detecting globally? One source puts it at over 2 million metal detectorists worldwide. Source.

Average Income Metal Detecting

My own experience with metal detecting profits is that it would be extremely hard to make a full-time income. However, I have never looked at it as a full-time job. In forums online, treasure hunters have revealed the number of hours they spend pursuing this as a full-time income, and how much they have made.

The majority of them report taking a loss when it comes to gas spent, hours spent hunting, and the equipment they have purchased. While others report making around $1,500 a year in profits. Some even claimed to make $10,000 a month, finding expensive sunglasses, phones, and jewelry. Source.

My most expensive find to date is a $1,000 diamond ring that I found on a lake beach in Oklahoma. It’s still my favorite find, and the most valuable. With all of the silver and gold coins I have found, I find that it easily pays for the equipment.

Is Beach Metal Detecting Profitable?

Beaches are where this gets interesting. Those who claim to make thousands of dollars a month are professional beach hunters. Beaches where people spend a lot of time, where a lot of wealth is located, are the # 1 target for metal detectorists who consider themselves professionals.

These spots include resorts, private beaches where they get permission to hunt, and places where people tend to lose expensive items. The thing about beaches and resorts is that this is one of the only places that constantly replenishes itself with high-value items.

Think about the number of people who go swimming at beaches and lose thousand-dollar pairs of sunglasses, expensive jewelry, and even phones. Some of the best places are kept secret by these professional beach hunters, for good reason. The coast of Florida is called the “gold coast” for more reasons than one.

Photo I took while metal detecting on a swimming beach in Oklahoma.

What to Do With a Metal Detector

If you are wanting to find some valuable targets, I suggest using metal detectors at beaches, parks, and homes built in the 40s and 50s. As mentioned above, beaches yield good results. Parks are places where people lose jewelry, coins, and more.

Old homes are your best bet for gold and silver coins. Homes built before the 60s have a better chance of yielding rare coins and silver coins. You can go a long way here by doing a little bit of research. Real estate websites like Zillow, will give you the year a home was built. You can use this as a research tool.

Websites exist that have topography maps, and historical aerial maps, that will show you what a neighborhood looked like a hundred years ago. Fields, where houses existed many years ago, can yield all kinds of interesting finds.

The next step is to master the art of getting permission. Find out where the old houses are in a neighborhood, knock on doors and ask for permission to hunt. This is the best way to get access to private homes.

What Can You Find With a Metal Detector?

There are many valuable and interesting things to find with a metal detector and also quite a bit of junk. You already know that you can find coins and jewelry, but what else? Here is a small list of things you can expect to find.

  • Scrap metal
  • Relics
  • Artifacts
  • Coins
  • Jewelry
  • Sunglasses
  • Phones
  • Nails
  • Pull tabs
  • War relics
  • Historical relics

Some things, you will be able to keep. Other things may need to be reported and surrendered to a museum or archeology department, due to local and federal laws. Some stuff that you find, you will be able to legally sell on websites like eBay, and to collectors. Source.

Making sure that it is legal to metal detect in any town or city is step one. Some places require permits, like state parks and cities, and other places have laws against it. Always do your due diligence before you go out to hunt. Never hunt on private property without permission.

Can a Metal Detector Find Paper Money?

Metal detectors only detect metal targets. So the only way you are going to find paper money is by finding an old safe, some type of metal container with paper money, or money attached to a metallic money clip. You also have the opportunity to find paper money with your eyes while covering ground. There are some rare instances where people have found hidden caches with paper cash. Source.


I have personally been very lucky with my findings, finding coins, jewelry, and other rare items. However, for me, the real wealth comes in the experiences I’ve had with friends while hunting, and with the excitement that you get every time you make a new discovery.

Do I think it is worth the time and investments? Yes. Do I think you will be able to make a full-time living metal detecting? Well, let’s just say, you probably shouldn’t quit your day job any time soon.

Chad Fox

Chad Fox is an expert treasure hunter who is experienced in metal detecting, magnet fishing, and geocaching. He enjoys the outdoors, making new discoveries, and helping people get started.

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