Monday, July 30, 2012

Ghost FAQs: Certification

The topic of becoming a certified ghost hunter or paranormal investigator has always been a fiercely debated topic among those in the paranormal community.  Although a vast majority of serious investigators stand by the claim that certifications are not worth the paper they're printed on, more and more groups are toting among their credentials the title of Certified Ghost Hunter.  Once again, I take an unpopular stance on this debate--right in the middle.  To understand my viewpoint, we'll start with a simple definition of what certification really is.

Although there are slightly different interpretations, the Business Dictionary defines certification from a business standpoint as:

"Formal procedure by which an accredited or authorized person or agency assesses and verifies (and attests in writing by issuing a certificate) the attributes, characteristics, quality, qualification, or status of individuals or organizations, goods or services, procedures or processes, or events or situations, in accordance with established requirements."

Because there is no accredited governing body concerning paranormal investigation protocol, a certificate simply IS a piece of paper.  It is a piece of paper confirming only that the "certified" has completed whatever requirements are issued by the certifying institution, arguably some being much better than others.  Certification of this type should never be confused with licensing, but merely as a symbol that one person has satisfactorily met the requirements of education set forth by another.

And this is where the problem lies.  Since there is no accredited governing body over the paranormal field, how can anyone lay out what they should or should not do?  Who is to say what method of investigation is the best and try to standardize a field where there are no absolutes? 

It is my personal opinion that certification can be a GOOD thing, but as with anything, moderation and common sense are key elements.  Many basic certification courses are offered through established institutions with a long, respectable reputation in the paranormal community.  Many of these certification courses offer a good solid base, featuring the most widely accepted theories and procedures.  However, as many opponents to certification point out, the information "taught" through these certification programs is found in abundance and for free in a variety of books, articles, and online publications.  Further, this knowledge, while essential, is not a replacement for good old fashioned hands-on field work.

To date, I am a certified ghost hunter through several institutions including, but not limited to, Hollow Hill, Flamel College, GhostVillage U. and UniversalClass.  For me personally, certification is simply a way to tangibly show a commitment to higher education in this field.  It shows a mastery of the basics and a willingness to accept and explore the ideas of others in the field.  The classes I have taken have always been free or affordable, so I consider it money well spent.  I also saw it largely as an entertainment endeavor, as I'm such a nerd that I do this for fun, lol.  However, these certifications are only a VERY small part of what I consider my investigation resume.

For anyone who asks me about whether or not they should get certified, I encourage them to first educate themselves through the many resources already out there, but if they truly want to spend some money, get certified in something that holds a little more weight, in and out of this circle. Examples of such would be to take college-level courses in the sciences, or even classes in photography, digital audio, etc.  Only then, and following an in-depth review of the company offering the certification and its own credentials, should any money be spent specifically for a ghost hunting certificate.

Ethically, if one chooses to share the fact of their certification with prospective clients and peers in the community, I believe full disclosure is essential.  I believe that having these credentials listed does show a prospective client that the investigator is serious about his/her work, but full details as to where the certification was obtained, and the coursework involved gives the client and others a better understanding as to what is involved.  More importantly, however, I think it needs to be made clear that there IS no accredited governing body, and thus, any certifications are to be taken at face value.  Anything else, in my opinion, is misleading those who need our help the most.

If you would like to try a free ghost hunting certification program, I suggest the coursework of Hollow Hill.  With anything in life, the more you put into it, the more you'll get out of it, so take the assignments seriously and complete them to the best of your ability!


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