"Joshua Camacho Works with the Fishes"

By Vanessa Grillone, WorkStory Contributor
I have a big family, which makes room for many different people going after various different careers. My cousin Joshua Camacho is a year older than myself and has the most interesting job I’ve ever heard of. By title he’s a commercial diver and even though I tell people he’s an Underwater Welder, welding is just one of many things that he does underwater. On any given day he could be does an inspections, construction, welding/cutting, salvage or even cleaning intakes. He’s even recently worked for an aquaculture company farming salmon.What I find so interesting about this job is that it’s ALL UNDERWATER! How the heck does someone get into a job like this one? 

Well, in high school Josh enjoyed his manufacturing class, especially welding and working with tools to make things or take things apart. He assumed that welding was a trade and that he could make decent money. He later heard of underwater welding and thought that was the coolest thing ever and went for it. After high school he went to Seneca college in King City, Ontario. They  offer the Underwater Skills program, which is two semesters from September to June. Diving Physics, Diving Physiology, Welding (dry and underwater), and Small Engines were just some of the classes he took. They even had the opportunity to do some practical projects underwater in the lake on campus, and some deeper dives off of boats and barges in lakes Simcoe and Huron.

“We received a college diploma so we had to do the compulsory english and computer courses or whatever else buy my favourite part of the course was probably going up to Wiarton and setting up our work barge using cranes and winches. We used hot water suits and a decompression chamber during the work day along with pumps and generators that power everything. I received my unrestricted surface supplied air diver and restricted commercial diver certificates surface supplied air comes from large cylinders filled by approved compressors. You breathe this air with the help of diving helmets such as the kirby morgan and S.C.U.B.A. you carry all of your air cylinders on your body.” 

Within the last few years, Josh’s job has allowed him to travel for work, mostly within Canada. He loves that my job allows me to travel within the province, country, or world depending on what he wants to do, “I can stay inshore diving for commercial diving companies or go offshore and work for oil or drilling companies. Every day is different. It keeps life interesting. This week will be a diving operation in the spent fuel bays of a nuclear power plant, next week could be setting up fish farms in the Caribbean sea”. But traveling is the bitter-sweet part of the job.  It can be a curse or a gift. Josh, a laid back and hardworking individual, just goes with the flow. He figures that NOW is the best time for him to travel, he’s twenty-five and doesn’t have that many responsibilities, plus, he knows that it’s part of the job. 

Josh admits that the toughest thing about his career is having a girlfriend and just relationships in general outside of work. He’s constantly back and forth between jobs in Ontario, from Niagara to Windsor to Manitoulin Island, or out to Newfoundland for a month or more at a time. It takes a good deal of effort to try to plan anything and to stay in touch with friends and family.

Although it was difficult to get constant work at the beginning now, Josh is self-employed and has a number of contractors he can call for work. The industry does have some slow periods through the year here in Ontario so you have to plan around that. Thankfully he’s in a good position as far as being comfortable goes but would like to work offshore on a oil rig or station of some sort just to experience it.  

Joshua’s advice to anyone interested in being a Commercial Diver: 
I love what I do and you HAVE to love this kind of job. There are many things that you can do with a commercial diving ticket. Most commercial diving isn’t glamourous work, often you’ll find yourself in tight pipes, contaminated water, uncomfortable working conditions, but if you love the job and the traveling it isn’t so bad. You will have to work hard and if you are not willing to drop everything to go work then things will be even harder. Welding or another trade would be a great reliable alternative."