Pearl Diver

Venture into the watery depths to recover precious pearls from oysters.
picture of Pearl Diver

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$17,000 – $40,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Pearl Divers do?

A pearl necklace seems a lot more precious when you realize that each pearl along the string is the fruit of a risky mission undertaken by a Pearl Diver. Sure, some pearls come from oyster breeding farms, but the most rare and natural of the starry white gems are found in the depths of the sea.

Unlike a Scuba Diver who uses a complicated breathing apparatus to make dives, a Pearl Diver free-dives down into the salty water with a basket or bag to collect oysters. That means that, if you’re a Pearl Diver, you hold your breath — often with the help of a nose plug — during each dive, like a marine explorer unhindered by fancy (and heavy) equipment.

You know the undersea terrain like the back of your hand — a Fisherman in the real sense of the word. You scrape off the best oysters before you run out of time (and breath), after which you surface. Each time you pop back to the shore, your goal is to have collected at least one pearl.

It’s a risk every time you dive into the water, fearing sharks and the bends, but if you’ve ever snorkeled in the clear blue of the tropics, you know just how beautiful it can be to spend all day in the glimmering water. More oblong-looking fresh pearls can be found in rivers across the United States, but in order to reach the prime, smooth pearls, you have to travel a bit. The locations where pearl oysters are ripest include the Caribbean tropics, Australian seas, and Japanese lakes.

While the day-to-day is full of adventure, and perhaps a bit of danger, the reward is a handful of precious stones, cultured by creatures of the sea. These pearl types are the large prizes that sell for top dollar on the market. Rubies and diamonds have sparkle, but none can boast the delicate sheen of the smooth, round saltwater pearl.


Should I be a Pearl Diver?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: Abalone Diver, Clam Digger, Geoduck Diver, Hunter Skin Diver, Mule Rider, Pearl Digger

    How to become a Pearl Diver

    Most Pearl Divers have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Bachelor's degree to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:9nahaa&chl=no+college+%2874%25%29|certificate+%2816%25%29||bachelor%27s+%289%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,74,74
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