From accounting to welding—and some seven dozen fields in between—virtually any career can begin at Tarrant County College.
At brick-and-mortar campuses across Fort Worth, Arlington and Hurst as well as a dedicated online and weekend learning campus known as TCC Connect, the College offers Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees for students interested in transferring to a four-year institution, along with more than 65 Associate of Applied Science degrees designed to accelerate entry into the workforce. There also are more than 150 certificates and skills awards resulting from specialized career training. On the way to degrees, certificates and awards, students can choose from 1,300 active credit courses. Then there is the wide range of non-credit classes for personal enrichment and professional training.
Clearly, TCC has a robust variety of offerings to allow students to reach their goals. Yet the College’s work to provide the best options is never finished.
“We are always evaluating what to add or revise,” explained Candy Center, District director of curriculum and educational planning, who notes that a market analysis is always the first step in any change to parallel current, future and emerging employment trends.
The process that follows is both extensive and intensive, particularly for credit programs. The faculty, academic leadership and District Academic Affairs teams make sure that each area of study will provide quality programs and meet the requirements of the College as well as the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and accrediting agencies. Industry advisory boards help shape instruction to match employer needs.
“When TCC brings a program or course to the point of enrollment, it has been thoroughly vetted and meets our high standards,” Center said. “It’s an extremely exciting area of work."
What we’re doing opens the doors for more students to realize their dreams and strengthens the economy.
District Director of Curriculum and Educational Planningand Planning
New TCC programs coming on board in the 2019-20 academic year include Human Resources Management and Nondestructive Testing, Inspecting and Evaluation.
Human Resources Management
As companies of all kinds expand in North Texas, there will be heightened demand for human resources experts to serve their employees. TCC Connect leadership realized the College had a unique ability to train Tarrant County residents to fill those positions.
“What makes this different is that it is a credit program offered fully online,” said Kenya Wilson, instructor of human resources in the TCC Connect Business and Technology Division. “That benefits non-traditional students by letting them get their degree or certificate while managing competing responsibilities.”
That is one of the draws for Cade Quimby, a first-time college student who enrolled specifically for Human Resources Management.
“I made it a personal goal that no matter where I am in life, I’m at least going to earn an undergraduate degree,” Quimby shared. “Now I’ll be able to more easily keep working while I go to school.”
There is a definite need for professionals with the skills Quimby is set to learn. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, careers in HR will grow more than 12 percent across the region through 2022, outpacing the state and nation. Meanwhile the number of HR jobs across the country is projected to stand at more than 1.27 million by 2026.
HR employees oversee recruitment, implement employer policies and procedures, handle staffing issues, prepare and maintain records and administer benefits.
“Human resources is not just about paperwork anymore,” said David Curtis, a consultant, co-founder of Helping Others with People Solutions (HOPS) HR and a member of the advisory committee. “There is a lot of mediation, strategic work and complex issues that HR professionals now manage. All these functions involve understanding federal and local regulations while balancing the employees’ needs and the business’s success.”
To prepare, students will build their knowledge through courses including Employment Practices, Employee Relations, Basic Mediator Training, Benefits and Compensation, Human Resources Information Systems and Strategic Management, among others. Classes lead to a Level I certificate (24 credit hours), Level II certificate (42 credit hours) and Associate of Applied Science (60 credit hours, including core curriculum coursework). The degree can be completed in two years, and a certificate can be earned in as little as one.
The awards reflect the College’s “guided pathways” model, allowing students to begin at an introductory level and earn stackable credentials as their knowledge increases.
“In addition to providing basic, entry-level training, the certificates can supplement a current human resources professional’s education and prepare them for certification exams,” said Wilson. “Upon completion of the associate degree, students will be qualified for starting positions such as human resources specialist, benefits coordinator and training specialist, or they can continue at a four-year institution for a bachelor’s degree.”
TCC students will be able to join local HR associations at discounted rates, to network with and learn from those already employed.
The career comes with significant earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, human resources specialists had a median pay of $60,880 in 2018, while the median pay for managers was $113,300. Wilson says entry and assistant-level positions obtainable by recent graduates can pay more than $45,000.
“This is a great field for individuals with strong interpersonal skills, but there are both collaborative roles and those that have more of an independent focus,” said Wilson. “Whatever aspect of human resources you go into, it’s rewarding. Plus, many HR tasks are difficult to automate. That makes it a smart choice, especially when you have many years in the workforce ahead.”
Quimby is ready to get started.
“I’m excited. It’s great to think about being able to work on my people skills, be a member of a team and allow others to have a better experience throughout the workday.”
Curtis looks forward to his ongoing work with faculty and students.
To be a part of this means a lot. HR can have a negative image, and I am trying to change that by showing employees compassion and empathy while working within the laws and policies of the company. By assisting in the development of the next generation of professionals, I can pass on that perspective.
Advisory Committee Member and Co-founder of HOPS
Classes began in Fall 2019. In addition to the Human Resources Management degree and certificates, TCC offers non-credit human resources options. Students can train to become human resources office assistants, while business owners and others can learn human resources essentials. Non-credit preparation is also available for the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) certification exams.
Nondestructive Testing, Inspection and Evaluation
For fields such as aerospace, construction, nuclear power, shipping and oil, component safety is paramount—and that’s where nondestructive testing professionals come in.
“In any line of work where you have metal or composite structures and it’s critical that they don’t fail, you have these technicians,” said Clint Grant, dean for aviation, business and logistics at TCC Northwest. “Their job is to inspect those parts without destroying them, ultimately aiding in the prevention of potentially catastrophic events.”
The College offered a nondestructive testing and inspection degree in decades past, connected to welding. As technology evolved, and components no longer were made just of welded steel, the nondestructive testing training ended in the late 1980s.
But demand began to grow for nondestructive testing technicians with a completely different skill set. In 2017, a group of local industry representatives approached TCC with a request: create a modern version of the program with a special emphasis on aerospace.
“There’s a lot of aerospace here in North Texas, and it’s growing. Plus, we have an aging nondestructive testing and inspection workforce,” remarked Glenn Rodriguez, manager of quality operations for Bell and a 1982 graduate of (then) Tarrant County Junior College with a nondestructive testing degree.
I’m within three to five years of retiring, and there’s a lot of people like me. We have no one to fill the positions. Educated nondestructive testing personnel are hard to find.
Manager of Quality Operations for Bell
The College launched into action and found there were no public programs in the region to train nondestructive testing technicians—and the other Texas community colleges that offer nondestructive testing education, in Amarillo, Houston and Corpus Christi focus on the oil, gas and shipping industries. TCC had an opportunity to fill a great void.
“We realized this was an important area of study to offer and that it needed to happen quickly,” Grant recalled.
To develop the Associate of Applied Science in Nondestructive Testing, Inspection and Evaluation, TCC worked with Rodriguez and others from the American Society for Nondestructive Testing to form a committee that would guide efforts. Grant also visited existing training in other regions to research best practices.
The resulting degree program—housed at TCC’S Erma C. Johnson Hadley Northwest Center of Excellence for Aviation, Transportation & Logistics at Alliance Airport—will give students a core curriculum foundation (including trigonometry coursework, as requested by the advisory committee) while teaching the five core nondestructive testing methods. For example, students will learn how to use ultrasound waves and materials that penetrate part surfaces to detect cracks and flaws that cannot be seen by the human eye. Graduates are prepared for the Level 1 industry certification exam (Levels II and III certification can be obtained only with professional experience).
“Our students will be able to go on to a variety of jobs. In aerospace, they could be stationed on the campus of a major employer such as Bell or Lockheed Martin, or they could work on a tarmac inspecting components of airplanes,” Grant said. “New graduates can make $15 or $20 an hour, and the salary goes up from there. There are technicians out there with substantial experience who form their own businesses and do incredibly well.”
Rodriguez and others who prompted the development of the Nondestructive Testing, Inspection and Evaluation degree know they found the right partner.
“TCC was very open to the idea and set out immediately to bring it to fruition,” said Rodriguez. “This is a great addition to the College and provides a solid entry point to a career with a lot of demand.”
Classes are expected to begin in spring 2020.
“We’re looking forward to getting students into the field and providing additional support for aerospace companies and other industries,” said Grant.
In the future, the College hopes to offer each nondestructive testing and inspection technique as a non-credit certificate—allowing technicians who may specialize in certain methods to expand their skills. While a four-year degree is not required in nondestructive testing, those who complete the associate degree may choose to transfer and pursue a Bachelor of Applied Science in an area such as management or engineering.
Meeting Workforce Needs
These new offerings illustrate TCC’s role in the process of building the local workforce and connecting graduates to the jobs of today and tomorrow.
“Whether initially based on input from partners or our own analysis of data, we develop credit and non-credit programs that focus squarely on high-demand, high-wage and high-skill careers,” emphasized Center.
That makes the College valued by business and industry and a key player in Tarrant County’s success.
“TCC’s work aligns with the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce’s strategic goals of increasing the region’s talent supply and percentage of adults with postsecondary degrees and certificates,” said Anthony Edwards, the Chamber’s senior vice president for talent development, attraction and retention.
As companies expand and relocate in the Fort Worth region, TCC is filling a skills gap and helping ensure our community can support the economic growth ahead.
Fort Worth Chamber’s Senior Vice President for Talent Development, Attraction and Retention
The Program Process
TCC follows a rigorous process to bring a course of study to fruition. The steps fall into six categories:
- Market analysis. The curriculum and educational planning team uses data to predict future jobs and trends.
- Presentation of need. The team makes a presentation to administrators, sharing analysis of data and program viability.
- Decision point. Administrators evaluate all information and decide whether to move forward based on factors such as the employment forecast, current TCC offerings, other area training and needed resources.
- Program development. Working with industry partners, TCC develops objectives, curriculum and graduation standards. The College also works with appropriate accrediting agencies to secure approval for the offerings, creates a budget and brings on board faculty and staff.
- Spreading the word. The College develops a marketing and recruitment strategy to raise awareness.
- Enrollment. Students register and begin classes.
Find more information on the full slate of TCC’s academic and workforce programs.