(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Texas State Technical College is known for adapting its technical programs to fit the needs of industry. Starting this fall, a new degree will enable students to learn to protect the health and safety of others.
The Associate of Applied Science degree in Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance combines two previous degrees to create a five-semester program. Classes will be taught in a hybrid format that includes both in-person labs and online courses.
“Many employers are looking for employees that can do the environmental side of the house and take on the safety duties,” said Mark Wilfert, TSTC’s statewide lead instructor in the Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance program. “They both go hand in hand because they are compliance-driven.”
Students will take classes in accident prevention, environmental regulations, industrial hygiene, safety program management, physical hazards control and other topics. During labs, students will train with various pieces of equipment that are actually used in the field.
“Hands-on work is extremely critical, especially in the areas of waste management and air sampling,” said Andrea Skinner-Creeks, an instructor in TSTC’s Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance program in Fort Bend County.
“Environmental site assessments are critical in construction,” she said. “For safety, all aspects are critical, especially when considering confined space entry, equipment calibration and lock-out/tag-out processes.”
Students graduating from the program will also have an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 30-hour card, an OSHA general industry and construction card, and a Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) card.
“Usually employers that are hiring safety or environmental professionals like to see the 30-hour card,” Wilfert said.
He added that the HAZWOPER card is highly regarded in the oil and gas industry.
Companies that have hired past Fort Bend County graduates include FEMA, Si Environmental, State Farm and Weston Solutions.
“I know there is a great need for graduates, especially since they obtain their HAZWOPER while in the program,” said Judy Cox, a Career Services coordinator at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus.
According to the Gulf Coast Workforce Board – Workforce Solutions in Houston, the last 12 months yielded more than 1,300 job openings for environmental engineering technologists and technicians, occupational health and safety specialists, and occupational health and safety technicians in its 13-county service area.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, occupational health and safety specialists in Texas earn a yearly median salary of more than $74,000, while occupational health and safety technicians make a yearly median salary of more than $46,000. The Woodlands-Houston-Sugar Land metropolitan area has about 5,800 workers.
TSTC will offer the Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance program at the Breckenridge, Fort Bend County and Waco campuses.
Registration continues for the fall, and scholarships are available. For more information, go to tstc.edu.