Did Witch-Hunters Have To Undergo Training?

The European Middle Ages were filled with disease, famine, and a general disinterest in education. The populace decided they needed a scapegoat for these dark times and settled for accusations of witchcraft and dark magic as the sources of the continent's misery. By the 16th century, witch-hunting had become a prominent profession, terrorizing the innocent women (and occasionally men and even animals) who would often face torture and death if accused of witchcraft (via Quartz).

While witch-hunters were often wealthy men of power associated with the law — ranging from lawyers to judges — there was no formal training or official witch-hunting license required. Witchcraft was a commonly accepted crime, and anyone is qualified to bear witness. In fact, much of the terminology surrounding witch-hunting was made up by the men who claimed expertise in the "profession." In reality, the only prerequisites were the ability to break a confession out of someone and the social standing to be believed.

Witch-hunters took up multiple witch-related jobs

Witch-hunters, sometimes called witchfinders, took advantage of the profession's general lack of qualifications and trained skills when making a living off of witch trials. They rarely sought out witches themselves, choosing to administer tests and condemn them to their punishments if convicted — usually death by burning or hanging. These tests were often just simply torture, designed to eke a confession out of those unfortunate enough to be accused and guarantee a repeated confession in front of a court. 

According to Engole, some of the more prominent witch-hunters held side jobs as "prickers," who would poke and pierce a suspected witch with needles to see if there were areas that didn't bleed or cause pain. Pricking also required no qualifications or medical experience, and anyone from ministers to court officials could partake in the act; the fact that executioners were sometimes called in should paint a pretty clear picture of how brutal the practice was. Prickers, like witch-hunters, could make a sizable income, and none were wise to the fact that these already wealthy men of social stature were preying on the paranoia of the people to make incredible financial and social gains with no required training or expertise.