Can you really make money with a metal detector?

treasure metal detector

This is a great question and one that I get asked every time I am out detecting. Metal detecting is booming and with fantastic quality detectors becoming increasingly affordable, there is nothing stopping you from getting outdoors to search for buried objects – and you never know if that next beep will be something valuable.

Yes, you can make money with a metal detector. There are a number of ways you can use your metal detecting skills to earn an income. In this post, we will look at six ways detectorists have turned their hobby into a source of extra income.

Note: Making money isn’t the main reason most people take up metal detecting. There is always the thrill that your next beep might unearth a hoard of buried treasure or a long lost stash of gold, but those kind of finds are rare. The bulk of your finds will be small change and rusty bottle caps, but don’t let that put you off. Metal detecting is addictive and a great hobby for all ages.

1. Local Lost Item Finding Service

Offer your metal detecting services in your local area to help people locate lost items of jewellery or keys in their garden. You could charge a call-out fee and a finders fee. This kind of service works well with a Facebook page. Once you have a few finds under your belt, word of mouth will bring more business to you. Ask them to post something on your page and theirs.

2. Car Park / Park Area Clear Up

I saw this recently and realized what a great idea it was. The detectorist sweeps car parks and parking bays for loose screws or sharp metal objects that could cause a car tyre puncture or personal injury.

You could also offer your detecting services to the local authorities to regularly detect kids play areas and parkland for metal objects.

I know many metal detector users who do this free of charge as a service to their community. If you are offering the lost item recovery service (item number 1 on this list), it could give you a good image in your local area.

3. Assist Police In Weapons Recovery

This may require some specialist training but could be a good regular source of income if you live in or near a crime-filled area. Many criminals throw their weapons or tools away while fleeing the scene of a crime. Recovering those items is vitally important to the police and helping the area safe for children and other members of the pubic.

You could start by contacting your local police station and asking what the process is for providing your services on a call-out basis.

4. Detecting At A Local Dig

Archaeologists can remove an enormous amount of dirt and sand when excavating a site. All of this material needs to be filtered and checked for small items that may be essential to the dig. There may be some paid opportunities – but it is worthwhile to note that most Archaeologists are not particularly fond of metal detectorists.

It would be important to have some Archaeology training beforehand so you know what you are looking for. Some items could easily be discarded as scrap but might be essential to piecing together a whole historical picture of a site. Care should be taken when on the site.

5. Find Buried Treasure

This is obviously the goal of most metal detector users. We all dream of finding that hoard of buried Bronze Age treasure or that bag of coins that was secretly hidden in the ground. People do find these types of items and it is important to understand that they might have some importance to research in a period of history. Record everything you do and see – sizes, location, quantity. Take pictures of everything you find. You may have to hand certain items into the museum or authorities depending on its age or importance – so be honest and seek the right help.

If a find is jammed in hard in the ground, DO NOT attempt to force it out. Take a note of the location, hide it and contact the authorities. You need to remove items as intact as possible.

6. River Metal Fishing

Although this doesn’t involve the use of a handheld metal detector, I’ve added it here as it is an exciting way of recovering metal items from rivers and streams. Not sure how much money could be made, but you would be doing the environment a big favor. It is shocking what people throw into our waterways.

A strong river magnet is attached to a rope and allowed to drop to the bottom of the river. When you feel it attach to something, you bring it up. Obviously the stronger the magnet is, the larger and heavier the objects can be.

Local authorities may pay you to clean up their rivers, but I think there would you would make more money selling any non-precious metal you find to a scrap dealer. I would also suggest wearing tough gloves as many recovered items could cut you.

Get Your Timing Right

We always advise planning your metal detecting trip so you can improve your chances of getting more finds. Metal detecting is an all year round activity, but some times of the year are better than others. Read of our post about choosing the right time to go out and search.

There Is More To Metal Detecting Than Making Money

Ask any metal detector user for a list of their recent finds and they will tell you that most of them were old tin cans, ring pulls or rusty nails. Then they will show you a diamond-encrusted gold ring they found on the side of a sand dune on a beach in Wales.

Most people take up metal detecting after they have read about someone making a significant find. After a while, other parts of detecting begin to appeal. Getting outdoors into the fresh air, visiting new areas and making new friends with fellow detectorists are great reasons to take up metal detecting as a hobby.

Every now and then you get rewarded with that satisfying tone in your ear that suggests you have found something within the valuable metal range: gold, silver or platinum – and that is a fantastic moment. It’s also what motivates us to get our outdoor gear on and head out to a field in the middle of nowhere or an empty beach just after the tide has gone out. The thrill of the find is addictive.

If you sell the items you find, then yes, you can make money from metal detecting. Many detectorists, however, hold on to their finds and showcase them to friends, family and other enthusiasts. For them it’s not about making money, it’s about unearthing history and making a connection with the objects they have found. Many simply enjoy the freedom and peace detecting can bring.

If making money is your main objective for getting into metal detecting, you may end up being disappointed. There is a wealth of wealth buried under the ground waiting to be found and you could be the one to find some of it, but be prepared to spend a lot of time swinging your arm over the ground.

If you are looking for a hobby that allows you to spend time outdoors with the opportunity of making interesting finds, then metal detecting is for you. I’ve had some fantastic finds – usually at the end of a long day and I have been doing it for over 30 years. I love it.


Yes, you can make money with a metal detector. There are a number of ways you can use your metal detecting skills to earn an income. In this post, we will look at six ways detectorists have turned their hobby into a source of extra income.

The Team @ Metal Diggers

All the team at Metal Diggers have been metal detecting since childhood. They are committed to their hobby and enjoy sharing their knowledge with other enthusiasts. Each has their own detecting style and preference for equipment. We hope you enjoy metal detecting as much as they do.

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