(ROSENBERG, Texas) – When Andres Hinojosa was moving from the Rio Grande Valley to the Houston area, he was driving near the house he was planning on renting when he saw something that reminded him of home: Texas State Technical College’s campus in Fort Bend County.
TSTC has 10 statewide locations, one of which is in Harlingen.
Hinojosa registered, and he is now pursuing his second degree in TSTC’s Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance program at the Fort Bend County campus.
How did you become interested in the Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance program at TSTC?
The program really caught my eye. I recycle, I garden, I try to keep my waste at a minimum. “Environmental” got my attention. When I saw the program on TSTC’s website, there were photos of people doing hands-on work in the environment. I was interested in that. It looked cool. It wasn’t an office job — and I wasn’t looking for one. Being out there in the field and testing stuff was kind of my thing.
You graduated with your Associate of Applied Science degree in this program in December with a focus on environmental compliance. What made you return to study the occupational safety aspect of the program?
To become more marketable. I thought, “Why not? You already did something. Might as well continue.” I’ve always been a firm believer of “don’t stop, keep going,” “learn more,” “be a sponge.” I took my philosophy and ran with it. They both just work together. You can’t be disposing of waste if your employees aren’t protected with the right personal protective equipment. I recently saw an article that said environmental health and safety people are on the rise, so more companies are making departments — and they’re willing to pay. I wanted to jump on that train.
What are some of the most memorable moments you have had in the program?
I had five different instructors. They’ve all taught me things that have stuck in my head, like, “Common sense is not so common,” and “Always have it on paper and in email.” Little things like that help me not be as scared to take on a big job. What they have taught me has made me confident, and what I’ve learned has made me more confident that I can do it.
Would you recommend this program to a prospective student?
I would recommend it to anyone who likes to be hands-on, working in the field and keeping people safe. It’s something you can take on to your everyday life at home. Ever since I was in this program, I’m more conscious of hazards around me on the road, at the house. I recommend it because it opens your eyes to many hazards you don’t catch on a daily basis.
What keeps you motivated?
I’m Hispanic. I’m from the Valley. My parents were born here. My grandparents were born in Mexico. They risked it all to come here. I try to do it for them, mainly. From what I heard, stories growing up, it wasn’t easy for them. I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity I can.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance at its Breckenridge, Fort Bend County and Waco campuses.
In Texas, occupational health and safety technicians can earn an average annual salary of $46,840, according to onetonline.org. The number of technicians in the state is expected to grow by 16% through 2028.
Texas employs the highest number of occupational health and safety technicians in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area has the highest employment level of these technicians in the country.
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.