ROSENBERG — When Andres Hinojosa moved from the Rio Grande Valley to the Houston area, he was driving near the house he was planning to rent when he saw something that reminded him of home: the Texas State campus. Technical College in Fort Bend County.
TSTC has 10 locations statewide, including one in Harlingen.
Hinojosa has enrolled and is currently 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 attention. I recycle, I garden, I try to minimize my waste. “The environment” caught my attention. When I saw the program on the TSTC website, there were pictures of people doing practical work. It interested me. It looked cool. It wasn’t a desk job — and I wasn’t looking for one. Being in the field and testing stuff was kind of my thing.
You graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in this program in December with a focus on environmental compliance. What prompted you to resume studying the occupational safety component of the program?
To become more marketable. I thought, “Why not? You have already done something. Might as well continue. I’ve always been a strong believer in ‘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 litter if your employees aren’t protected with the right personal protective equipment. I recently read an article that said environmental health and safety personnel are on the rise, so more and more companies are creating departments – and they’re willing to pay. I wanted to jump on this train.
What are some of the most memorable moments you have experienced on the program?
I had five different instructors. They all taught me things that stuck in my mind, like “Common sense isn’t that common” and “Always have it on paper and by email.” Little things like that help me not be so afraid of taking on a big job. What they taught me made me confident, and what I learned made me more confident that I can do it.
Would you recommend this program to a future student?
I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys being out in the field, working in the field and keeping people safe. It is something that you can adopt in your daily life at home. Since I have been in this program, I am more aware of the dangers around me on the road, at home. I recommend it because it opens your eyes to many dangers that you don’t catch on a daily basis.
What motivates you ?
I am Hispanic. I come from the Valley. My parents were born here. My grandparents were born in Mexico. They risked everything to come here. I try to do it for them, mainly. From what I heard, the stories grow, it was not easy for them. I try to take advantage of all the opportunities I can.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance at its campuses in Breckenridge, Fort Bend County, and Waco.
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 increase 16% through 2028.
Texas employs the most occupational health and safety technicians in the country, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro area has the highest level of employment of these technicians in the nation.
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.