Many individuals particularly complete beginners have this common question about “treasure hunting for a living” if it is really possible or not. As a professional treasure hunter who has already been doing this field of work for many years, yes – it is possible. However, there is a huge obstacle especially when you are just trying to start out.


When you are just starting out, don’t expect that you will immediately recover some interesting or valuable finds unless you are one very lucky person. Time will have to take its place where you get to learn some knowledge and skills in treasure hunting through your actual experiences.

Equipment/Metal Detecting

Equipment particularly metal detector is a very important tool that every treasure hunter must own. The use of these tools is another learning curve for a complete beginner which takes some time. Metal detecting isn’t really easy which is in contrast to all what many manufacturers claim on their promoted products.

The first time that I handled a metal detector, I tested it right away out on the field. I thought that I could find a lot of metal scraps but this was wasn’t the case. My equipment just went erratically beeping at any directions or spot on the ground. At this point, I learned about hot rocks, high content of iron on the soil and many other types of interferences that could affect the performance of my metal detector.


Sadly, treasure hunting is an outdoor activity that requires you to spend some amount of money which depends on the project that you intend to work on. As a treasure hunter working on projects with large cache of hidden deposits, it really cost me a lot. No complete beginner would surely want to risk such amount of money. If he or she does, the risk of failure will be pretty high.

I have already came across many groups who left their interesting projects just because of the lack of financial supports. There was actually this one group who spent around six months on their project and according to the owner of the land, they already left it for 9 years. Even though, the group promised that they will come back for it.

Due to the land owner’s long period of waiting and also the need for money, my team had easily convinced him that we should take over. Here is the most interesting part, when we continued the abandoned project, they just missed the item 12 inches from one side of the corner. This proves how useful a metal detector even if it can only detect shallow depths.

Trusted Team

Of course you can go solo if you are just hunting for shallow buried objects. But still, having a companion along with you is a lot much better than by just being alone. The best part is that, you actually have someone to share your newly gained knowledge and experiences which could potentially boosts your learning curve.

For large projects, a trusted team is a must. If each member of the team does not trust one another, this could lead into conflicts and it isn’t really good for the group. It really took me several years to gather my own trusted team. So beginners, you can’t just expect anyone who is interested to join your team as a trusted individual. Again, time is required to build such a strong trust of relationship to one another.

If you have all those aspects mentioned above then, treasure hunting can pay off for a living or even more than enough to make you a wealthy person which is all dependent on your findings.

Can you Still Make Money by Treasure Hunting today?

The answer to this question is, “yes”. If we are talking about large hidden treasure deposits then there are still plenty of them. Every country around the world have their own stories about large piles of hidden treasures that are yet to be recovered. Not to mention many other lost treasures under the water.

However, only a few can work on hidden large deposits because they are not that too easy to find and recover. These include all the aspects mentioned above. And, majority of them are even protected with deadly traps. The risk is really high but the return will be incredibly huge. You could literally retire and relax for the entire rest of your life if you managed to recover just one.

If you want to stay on the safe side then you should go for small deposits. Many treasure hunters today are able to make consistent profit by targeting precious objects that can be easily recovered. With the advancement of our technology, we now have very efficient metal detectors that can even penetrate deep targets.

Southeast Asian countries have the famous Yamashita treasures. The treasures hidden by the JIA (Japanese Imperial Army) in these countries consists of three general categories which are small, medium and large deposits. Both the medium and large deposits are hard to find and recover but not really for the small ones.

Small deposits may contain one to three gold bars. There can also be a few pieces of gold coins or precious jewelries that are commonly stored in jars or small metal containers. Based on my experiences, they are often inserted inside old trees and rocks. They can also be uncovered at shallow depths perhaps 1 to 3 feet deep only.

If you are from the Western Countries or a place with no hidden treasures like the Yamashita then it doesn’t mean that treasure hunting is no longer possible for you. You have to know that people usually lost their valuable item. I am sure that even you have lost a coin somewhere in the past or even a much valuable object.

These lost objects will be your primary target. If you live near the beach or parks then you are lucky. I already heard a lot of amazing stories of metal detectorists who made some good amount of money recovering valuable items on these kind of places. Aside from parks and beaches, any abandoned locations are also good sites to metal detect.

Apart from intentionally hidden treasures and lost valuable items, we also have the nature’s product known as gold nuggets. Just like lost items, gold nuggets can be identified by metal detectors at shallow depths.

Permanent Job as a Treasure Hunter

If you got the passion but you are just starting out then your best option is to reach or join others with similar interest as yours particularly a group or individuals who already consider treasure hunting as their permanent job. Your objective is to learn from them.

There are also “treasure hunting companies” where you can try your luck applying for a certain amateur position. If they aren’t recruiting then you may try to ask them if you can apply as a trainee. Again, your goal here is to learn about how the pros does it. Once you are enhanced with the knowledge and experience from the pros, you can go solo or organize your own team.

Take note, never consider treasure hunting as a job if you are simply in it for the money. You are far better off working on a regular job that you really enjoy which will pay you a lot much better.

Potential Profit that can be made from Treasure Hunting

When I first started as a treasure hunter, I had a regular job earning just an average income. THing was just a part-time hobby where I really do not have the intention of going full-time. It was because my profit at that time from my hobby wasn’t really good enough to sustain my living expenses.

Since the passion and my strong determination was there, I continued enhancing myself with knowledge so as saving some extra money to buy myself better equipment or metal detectors. I already mentioned about my first successful recovery on the previous post about myself.

My first discovery had given me enough capital to organize my team and purchased high-end equipment. We then continued targeting small to medium deposits and also had some amazing success. Currently, we are working on a large project right now. This will probably my final project with the Yamashita treasures in the Philippines. I really don’t want to feel greedy enough and recover everything out for my own gain. So perhaps my next goal is to explore the seas for sunken treasures.

When it comes to potential profit, it really depends on the item that you are hoping to recover. Assuming that you recovered a small deposit of the Yamashita treasure, it is good enough to send your six children to school up to the completion of their college degrees – considering if you are from the Philippines.

I have also known several individuals who were lucky enough to find small deposits by accidents but since they were not treasure hunters, they spent their findings on setting up their small businesses such as restaurants, groceries and etc…

Moreover, treasure hunting can be a viable source of income provided that you have the right knowledge and experience. Once you already have them, you yourself can easily tell if it really makes a good living or not.

14 Comments to “Treasure Hunting for a Living – Is it Possible?”

  • Sir Elmo,

    Yes, a lot of experience you will need in treasure hunting like decoding collecting markers sign and symbol within the area. History telling and a living pointer is needed also and the most important is latest gadget to locate those hidden object. Financier or Investor are needed in treasure Hunting for financial support and for the success of recovering of those hidden object within that area. Hoping you could give me a good person to help and support us in our digging spot. Thank you and may God guide us and Bless us always.

    – Jesus

    • Yes, I do absolutely agree with you.

  • Sir,

    How to make a gold dust to a make real gold?

    • The method is called “panning”. First you have to pan the gold dust and then cook it at a high temperature to turn it into larger size solid form of gold.

  • Dear Sir Elmo,

    I am from Mindanao, Philippines. In our farm, there’s a big rock resembling a seating frog facing east and right behind it, about 5 to 6 feet from it is another big rock shaped like a Shield facing west. Is this a good sign that a hidden treasure is just nearby or hidden under one of these rocks? I have a picture of them. If you don’t mind, can I send it to you?



    • A frog marker is often interpreted as an inverted arrow. This means that the real direction where the item is hidden is at its back. Since you mentioned here that behind its back, there is a big rock that bear the shape of a shield. Thus, there is a huge possibility that the item is hidden on that particular rock.

  • Sir Elmo,

    I am from Compostela Walley Mindanao. I saw an X sign in the huge rock that looks like this _X, what does it mean?

    We think that it is a rock enclose treasure ? Isn’t it?

    • No, it is not a rock enclose treasure but it means that the treasure is under the rock. But, not exactly or directly under the rock. It is on one of its side, particularly on the left.

  • In the last 3 years, I have been sending to Mr. Elmo queries but never got reply. I wonder if he is only answering those he favors or he simply doesn’t receive it.

    Kindly guide me where and how I can get a response should I send him again my queries. Thank you.

    • I am sorry if I failed to respond to any of your inquiries for this last 3 years. Those messages might have been caught automatically by the spam filter.

      Anyway, your comment here seems to be working just fine.

  • Sir Elmo,

    I’m from Phil. I have seen a face and left foot on a big rock right on the center of a creek. I think it’s a sign of treasure.

    • Just make sure that it is a man-made sign and not natural. The face is staring towards the area where the deposit is buried while the foot shows the exact direction. It’s like you are going to continue walking forwards towards the direction where the foot is heading.

  • I need more information about Yamashita treasure that Japanese imperial army have camp and mostly on this area, they have flag pole and as I heard that every flag pole, they will put gold bars under. Is this true? As a beginner, I need to learn something from you. Thank you.

    • Yes, that’s true. The Japanese Imperial Army do love to hid their treasures under their flag poles.

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