Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Treasure Hunter

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Treasure Hunter

Overview: A treasure hunter is someone with an inquisitive nature who uses their investigative talents to find lost, stolen, or forgotten treasure. It may be buried, sunken, hidden, part of a recovery mission, a historical find, or a prize as part of an elaborate hunt created by a person with means.

Necessary Training: Depending on the type of treasure being recovered, different types of education will help one’s success or be required. For example, someone who salvages shipwrecks would need need their diver certification and have documentation that allows them to pilot a boat. Depending on the location, and whether the treasure hunting mission is legal or not, additional permits may be needed to search. Also, being educated in a specific area of history, map reading, navigational skills, knowing the culture and language tied to the nationality of the treasure lost would all help the treasure hunter (but if they didn’t have this knowledge, someone on the team could supply it). Understanding symbols, glyph, being able to follow clues based on details only those educated in a certain era or with intimate knowledge of the person who hid the treasure will also be important if one is to recover certain finds.

Treasure hunters would also need equipment to help them (this could range form a metal detector to deep sea salvage gear, to explosives, and more) and be proficient in their equipment’s use. They would also need to be able to handle situations that could come up (beating out rival treasure hunters, dealing with local superstitions, gaining permission to search, working with (or past) law enforcement, encouraging locals to open up when investigating the past, obtaining financial backing, etc.).

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, a knack for making money, basic first aid, enhanced hearing, exceptional memory, foraging, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, haggling, high pain tolerance, lip-reading, lying, making people laugh, mechanically inclined, photographic memory, predicting the weather, promotion, reading people, repurposing, self-defense, sharpshooting, sleight-of-hand, strategic thinking, strong breath control, super strength, survival skills, swift-footedness, wilderness navigation

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, adventurous, alert, ambitious, analytical, bold, calm, courageous, curious, decisive, disciplined, discreet, focused, imaginative, independent, industrious, meticulous, observant, optimistic, organized, patient, persistent, persuasive, resourceful, thrifty, wise

NEGATIVE: addictive, cocky, devious, dishonest, evasive, know-it-all, macho, manipulative, materialistic, obsessive, stubborn, superstitious, suspicious, unethical

Sources of Friction: Rival treasure hunters unraveling the clues before or at the same pace that one can, tight-lipped locals (that don’t trust outsiders), maps that have degraded with age, old equipment that barely functions or breaks just when it is needed most, wasting time following false leads (and letting one’s competition get the jump on one’s operation), trying to bribe an official or police officer and it backfiring, finding a treasure only to have a government body or relative to the original owner try to claim it, having one’s equipment or vehicle sabotaged by a rival, personality conflict within one’s crew, a curse tied to the lore of a treasure that turns out to be true, buying a treasure at auction or in a yard sale and finding it to be a fake, trying to circumvent the law and being arrested, being unable to obtain permission to search a specific area, being attacked or injured during a job, finding a treasure’s resting place only to discover another has been there first

People They Might Interact With: museum curators, archeologists, historians, police, government officials, local guides, drivers, laborers, fellow treasure hunters, ship owners/captains, experts, financial backers

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: If a treasure hunter’s desire to find a big score is their sole focus and this never materializes, it could threaten their sense of self, and make them wonder if they have wasted their life
  • Esteem and Recognition: A character in this field that is always one-upped by other hunters may struggle with self-esteem issues
  • Love and Belonging: Treasure hunters often travel, and can be gone for long periods of time. This means they may struggle with commitment and responsibilities that lie outside the job, including relationships
  • Safety and Security: In the scope of their work, treasure seekers may travel to locations that are hazardous, and whenever a large finders fee is in the offering, humans can present a danger, too

Common Work-Related Settings: abandoned mine, airplane, airport, alley, ancient ruins, antiques shop, arctic tundra, art gallery, attic, backyard, badlands, bank, basement, bazaar, beach, bookstore, canyon, cave, cheap motel, condemned apartment building, construction site, country road, creek, desert, dungeon (speculative), farm, fishing boat, forest, ghost town (old west), graveyard, grotto, hiking trail, lake, library, marina, marsh, mausoleum, meadow, medieval castle armory (speculative), medieval castle (speculative), medieval tavern (speculative), medieval village (speculative), moors, mountains, museum, ocean, pasture, pirate ship (speculative), quarry, razed city street, root cellar, salvage yard, secret passageway, sewers, swamp, thrift store, waterfall

Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: A lot of treasure hunters are portrayed as men, but women have a adventurer’s spirit too. Why not consider this career for your next female protagonist?

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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2 Responses to Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Treasure Hunter

  1. Glory Wade says:

    I love that you are pulling together an occupation thesaurus. The others that you and Becky have created are amazing. I use the Emotion Thesaurus frequently. Thank you for doing these.

    • I’m very glad you are finding this one helpful. 🙂 There’s really so much we can find out about a character by thinking about the work they do and why and that can be used to show readers who a character really is deep down. 🙂

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