(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Michael Martin has spent much of his professional life in industrial settings, working offshore and in warehouses.
He decided to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Texas State Technical College’s Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance program to help ensure workplace safety — and grow in his career.
“I was always taught to learn everything about something and something about everything,” he said. “You have to learn more to expand your horizons.”
How did you become interested in pursuing a career in occupational safety?
Growing up in Galveston, I’ve seen a lot of accidents in different warehouses. Most people get into an accident over something small. Looking out for human error is key. I just want to make sure people make it home. I personally know a lot of people that didn’t. Just being a watcher when no one else is watching is pretty much what led me into this.
How has your experience been at TSTC?
I like being here and being in class. It’s a great program. They work with you. There’s a lot of things that (TSTC Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance instructors) Andrea (Skinner-Creeks) and Om (Chawla) say that I see and apply outside of class. They’re passionate about the safety and compliance industry, and they know what they’re talking about. I take heed. I actually talk to a lot of other people about TSTC and say, “You should look up a program. Don’t let me pass you by.”
What keeps you motivated?
Life. Old life to new life. I grew up in the projects, and now I’m showing people that difference. You can make a difference. I have a 9-year-old son — about to be 10. I hold him accountable, so he holds me accountable for grades. He’s an A and B student, and I’m not going to tell him to do something I’m not going to do. I’m being an example that you can go back to school to do this. I’m a worker — just grinding and striving to do something different.
What goals do you have once you earn your degree?
My goal is to keep going. I would like to go get a bachelor’s degree. I would like to be in a position to grow. I want to be able to come back and say, “Andrea, Om, this is what you did. I started here.” And be able to tell the students that this is where I’m at. You start off at a small scale to learn. But when you have the education, go big.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
Get in the field. Get out and get your hands dirty. Learn. I sit in class and ask a lot of questions. Talk to your instructors. Know that you’ve got other people’s lives in your hands. When you get into this field, it’s going to open your eyes. Safety is first.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance at its Breckenridge, Fort Bend County and Waco campuses.
In the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area, occupational health and safety technicians can earn a median annual salary of $58,170, according to onetonline.org, which forecasts the number of positions to grow in the state by 16% through 2028.
Texas employs the highest number of occupational health and safety technicians, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
June marks National Safety Month.
Fall enrollment at TSTC is underway. Learn more at tstc.edu.