How Do I Become a Prospector?

Gold is a metallic element with the atomic number 79 and the symbol Au.
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  • Written By: Patrick Roland
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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Few other jobs offer to help you get rich quick like prospecting does. Panning for gold or other valuable materials requires a great deal of physical work and geological knowledge. In order to become a prospector, you must combine those two skills with the centuries-old practice of finding minerals in rivers, lakes and culverts. It also is important to know that these skills can transfer to different kinds of prospecting.

There rarely are any educational requirements if you want to become a prospector, generally because prospectors work independently. There are many useful educational subjects when looking for minerals in nature. An understanding of geology is essential to finding gold, because knowing where gold and other minerals are found in rock formations is a necessity. Chemistry also is useful, considering that gold is on the periodic table of the elements and studying chemistry can help you learn all there is about this valuable material. Outdoor survival training also can be useful, because many times you will be in the wilderness and need to know how to protect yourself from dangerous animals and weather.

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If you want to become a prospector, it is crucial that you learn where to find gold or other minerals. There is an old prospecting adage that says to find gold, look where others have found gold, and that means rivers, lakes and culverts. A gold prospector knows that gold is so heavy that it hangs around the bottoms of rivers, and discovering gold-rich rivers is the challenge. When the summer months cause lakes to recede, you will have better luck finding gold near streams dumping into the body of the lake. Knowing that the culverts under roadways are a natural trap from gold streaming down from a mountain also can make prospectors rich.

Your geological and chemical training will come in handy when determining what you are looking for. Mineral exploration and extrapolation are essential parts of the job if you become a prospector. You should learn and understand the chemical tests that can be performed to determine whether a shiny hunk of material is fool's gold or the real deal.

If you want to become a prospector, you do not have to limit your skills to looking for only gold. Mineral mining companies often call on prospectors to detect minerals in untapped lands using these same skills. A geophysical prospector works for a fuel company, often seeking signs of petroleum in the ground with many of the same techniques that a gold prospector uses.

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