(ROSENBERG, Texas) – A group of three Texas State Technical College Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance students peered into a dumpster tucked behind the Industrial Technology Center on TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus.
While wearing personal protective equipment, they plucked trash from the receptacle, examining the material and condition of each item before photographing them and taking notes.
It was the first onsite assessment of the semester for these students, picking apart what others on campus threw away. And it was just one part of a program that opens many doors for graduates — especially in the Houston area, TSTC instructor Andrea Skinner-Creeks said.
“Texas is home to a lot of manufacturers and chemical plants and oil and gas,” she said. “The opportunities are vast for students who come through here and can hit the quick points and get out.”
While many opportunities in the field require four-year degrees, Skinner-Creeks said she herself was at a disadvantage in the industry with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from a traditional university.
“One of the upsides to TSTC is students have a leg up over someone like me,” she said. “If they can get the experience, experience many times trumps a degree.”
The program at TSTC is two-pronged, encompassing environmental compliance, which includes protecting the environment and handling hazardous materials, and occupational safety, which protects people at their places of work.
“We cover a range of things,” Skinner-Creeks said. “(Students) come out of here with certifications (they) can use immediately. They’re coming out marketable.”
Students of this program obtain relevant training that they can apply to their future careers — and the opportunity to learn from Skinner-Creeks, who has about 16 years’ worth of experience in the field. She worked for the government, as well as the oil and gas and chemical industries, before coming to teach at TSTC in August 2020.
In addition to the Fort Bend County campus, TSTC also offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance on its campuses in Breckenridge and Waco.
Occupational health and safety technicians can earn an average annual salary of $46,840 in Texas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which expects such jobs to grow by 16% through 2028.
Texas environmental engineering technologists and technicians can earn $48,310 each year, onetonline.org finds, projecting that these jobs will grow by 22% through 2028.
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.