Oil Rig Worker
oil rig in the Pacific

Many oil rig workers live on a drilling platform in the middle of the ocean.

©iStockPhoto/Julie Kendall

­To say that oil is a booming industry would be an understatement. Given that modern economies largely depend on it, and as prices soar, you can bet that companies will pay a lot to find and drill for this black gold. But for most workers, striking oil isn't so glamorous in real life. Daily life on an oil rig is dirty and dangerous.

Offshore rig life is especially difficult. It involves spending weeks at a time sleeping, eating and working 12-hour days or nights on a man-made drill rig in the middle of the ocean. Aside from the cramped conditions, heavy machinery and explosive materials make this a perilous job that requires hardhats and steel-toed boots. And the business side of oil drilling isn't the only part that's booming -- the machinery is extremely loud. Workers are typically required to wear earplugs on the job to prevent permanent hearing loss, and they communicate through hand signals.

But if you can stand the strenuous work and the time away from home, you'll be sitting pretty. Even lowly workers can get a nice annual pay over $40,000 [source: Miller]. Salaries can skyrocket for people with certain college degrees and for overseas work [source: OilJobFinder].