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A pearl diver makes a living by harvesting oysters that grow pearls, so the pearls can be collected. Generally, pearl divers work in farms where oysters are specifically bred in order to create pearls, which are then sold to generate profit. Some pearl divers also hunt oysters in the wild, which produce more valuable pearls, while others may make their living by training tourists to dive and collect oysters themselves. This can lead to a broad difference in salaries.
Because pearl diving involves certification, a number of different skills and a considerable amount of risk, pay tends to be high. According to Gradpower, a pearl diver can make as much as $1,200 a day diving and retrieving pearl oysters. Of course, to reach these levels a diver must have years of experience in diving alone, and must also be well-acquainted with how to properly harvest oysters that have matured pearls inside while leaving others in place.
Making over $1,000 a day can seem very lucrative, but this does not mean that pearl divers make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Pearl diving is not necessary a day in, day out job. Typically there are seasons during which a pearl diver will work and after which the diver will return to another job. Even when working, a pearl diver may not work every day. Natural forces like weather and the health of the oysters also play their part, leading to a wide variance in income.
Because of the sometimes tenuous nature of their jobs, pearl divers often work at other positions, possibly even during their pearl diving season. The skills that a pearl diver learns have many applications in similar trades. For instance, a pearl diver may work another position removing sea sponges or abalone from underwater environments. They can also do maintenance work on underwater structures or help move equipment around for marine exploration.
Pearl diving has a long list of requirements. Divers must be willing to go to their work--pearl diving tends to take place in distant locations, including Japanese lakes, Caribbean tropics, and Australian shores. While it may sound like a fun time, the cost of transportation and living in these areas can be very high and may cut into the wages a pearl diver earns.