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Respiratory Therapist Overview - Preparation - Day In The Life -
Earnings & Employment - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations

An associate degree is the minimum educational requirement, but a bachelor's or master's degree may be important for advancement. All States, except Alaska and Hawaii, require respiratory therapists to be licensed.

Among the areas of study in respiratory therapy programs are human anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, pharmacology, and mathematics. Other courses deal with therapeutic and diagnostic procedures and tests, equipment, patient assessment, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the application of clinical practice guidelines, patient care outside of hospitals, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, respiratory health promotion and disease prevention, and medical recordkeeping and reimbursement.
High school students interested in applying to respiratory therapy programs should take courses in health, biology, mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Respiratory care involves basic mathematical problem solving and an understanding of chemical and physical principles. For example, respiratory care workers must be able to compute dosages of medication and calculate gas concentrations.

Therapists should be sensitive to a patient's physical and psychological needs. Respiratory care practitioners must pay attention to detail, follow instructions, and work as part of a team. In addition, operating advanced equipment requires proficiency with computers.

Respiratory therapists advance in clinical practice by moving from general care to the care of critically ill patients who have significant problems in other organ systems, such as the heart or kidneys. Respiratory therapists, especially those with a bachelor's or master's degree, also may advance to supervisory or managerial positions in a respiratory therapy department. Respiratory therapists in home health care and equipment rental firms may become branch managers. Some respiratory therapists advance by moving into teaching positions. Some others use the knowledge gained as a respiratory therapist to work in another industry, such as developing, marketing, or selling pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Licensure and Certification
A license is required to practice as a respiratory therapist, except in Alaska and Hawaii. Also, most employers require respiratory therapists to maintain a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. Licensure is usually based, in large part, on meeting the requirements for certification from the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC). The board offers the Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) credential to those who graduate from entry-level or advanced programs accredited by CAAHEP or the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) and who also pass an exam.

The board also awards the Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) to CRTs who have graduated from advanced programs and pass two separate examinations. Supervisory positions and intensive-care specialties usually require the RRT.

Accredited Programs
An associate degree is required to become a respiratory therapist. Training is offered at the postsecondary level by colleges and universities, medical schools, vocational-technical institutes, and the Armed Forces. Most programs award associate or bachelor's degree and prepare graduates for jobs as advanced respiratory therapists. A limited number of associate degree programs lead to jobs as entry-level respiratory therapists. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is the nationally recognized accrediting authority for respiratory therapist education accreditation. The following is a list of accredited advanced respiratory therapy programs, but be sure to check with the Commission for updates and changes.

Accredited Advanced Respiratory Therapy Programs
(Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees)

Shelton State Community College (Associate)
University of Alabama at Birmingham (Baccalaureate)
University of South Alabama (Baccalaureate)
Wallace Community College (Associate)
Wallace State Community College (Associate)

Northwest Arkansas Community College (Associate)
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences-Little Rock (Associate; Baccalaureate)
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences - Texarkana (Associate)

Apollo College-Mesa (Associate)
GateWay Community College (Associate)
Kaplan College-Phoenix (Associate)
Pima Community College-Tucson (Associate)
Pima Medical Institute-Mesa (Associate)
Pima Medical Institute-Tucson (Associate)

American River College (Associate)
Butte Glenn Community College (Associate)
California College San Diego (Associate)
ConCorde Career College-Garden Grove (Associate)
ConCorde Career College-North Hollywood (Associate, Certificate)
Concorde Career College-San Bernadino (Associate)
Crafton Hills College (Associate)
East Los Angeles College (Associate)
Foothill College (Associate)
Fresno City College (Associate)
Grossmont College (Associate)
Loma Linda University (Baccalaureate)
Los Angeles Valley College (Associate)
Maric College (Associate)
Modesto Junior College (Associate)
Mt San Antonio College (Associate)
Napa Valley College (Associate)
Ohlone College (Associate)
Orange Coast College (Associate)
Pima Medical Institute-Chula Vista (Associate)
San Joaquin Valley College - Rancho Cucamonga (Associate)
San Joaquin Valley College -Bakersfield (Associate)
San Joaquin Valley College-Visalia (Associate)
Skyline College (Associate)
Victor Valley College (Associate)

Pickens Technical College (Associate)
Pima Medical Institute-Denver (Associate)
Pueblo Community College (Associate)
Manchester Community College (Associate)
Naugatuck Valley Community College (Associate)
Norwalk Hospital/Norwalk Community Tech College (Associate)
Quinnipiac University (Associate)
University of Hartford (Certificate, Baccalaureate)

District of Columbia
University of the District of Columbia (Associate)

Delaware Tech and Community College - Owens Campus (Associate)
Delaware Technical and Community College - Wilmington (Associate)

ATI Health Education Centers (Associate)
Broward Community College (Associate)
Daytona Beach Community College (Associate)
Edison College - Ft Myers (Associate)
Florida A & M University (Baccalaureate)
Florida Community College (Associate)
Gulf Coast Community College (Associate)
Hillsborough Community College (Associate)
Indian River Community College (Associate)
Miami-Dade College (Associate)
Palm Beach Community College (Associate)
Santa Fe Community College (Associate)
Seminole Community College (Associate)
St Petersburg College (Associate)
Tallahassee Community College (Associate)
University of Central Florida (Baccalaureate)
Valencia Community College (Associate)
Armstrong Atlantic State University (Baccalaureate)
Athens Technical College (Associate)
Augusta Technical College (Associate)
Coosa Valley Technical College (Associate)
Darton College (Associate)
Georgia State University (Baccalaureate)
Griffin Technical College (Associate)
Gwinnett Technical College (Associate)
Heart of Georgia Technical College (Associate)
Macon State College (Associate)
Medical College of Georgia (Baccalaureate)
Okefenokee Technical College (Associate)
Southwest Georgia Technical College (Associate)

Kapiolani Community College (Associate)
Des Moines Area Community College-Ankeny (Associate)
Kirkwood Community College (Associate)
Northeast Iowa Community College (Associate)
Southeastern Community College (Associate)
St. Luke's College (Associate)
Boise State University (Associate, Baccalaureate)
College of DuPage (Associate)
Illinois Central College (Associate)
Kankakee Community College (Associate)
Kaskaskia College (Associate)
Malcolm X College (Associate)
Moraine Valley Community College (Associate)
Olive-Harvey College (Associate)
Parkland College (Associate)
● Rock Valley College (Associate)
Southwestern Illinois College - Belleville (Associate)
St. John's Hospital (Associate)
Triton College (Associate)
Clarian Health Partners (Baccalaureate)
Indiana University Northwest (Associate)
Ivy Tech Community College, Central Indiana Region (Associate)
Ivy Tech Community College-Ft. Wayne (Associate)
Ivy Tech Community College-Lafayette (Associate)
Ivy Tech Community College-Michigan City (Associate)
Ivy Tech Community College-Sellersburg (Associate)
Ivy Tech Community College-Terre Haute (Associate)
University of Southern Indiana (Associate)
Bethany Medical Center / Kansas City Kansas Community College (Associate)
Johnson County Community College (Associate)
Labette Community College (Associate)
Newman University (Associate)
Seward County Community College (Associate)
University of Kansas Medical Center (Baccalaureate)

Washburn University (Associate)
Bellarmine University (Associate, Baccalaureate)
Big Sandy Community and Technical College (Associate)
Bluegrass Community and Technical College (Associate)
Bowling Green Technical College (Associate)
Jefferson Community and Technical College - Louisville (Associate)
Madisonville Community College (Associate)
Maysville Community & Technical College - Morehead (Associate)
Northern Kentucky University (Associate)
Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (Associate)
West Kentucky Community and Technical College (Associate)

Bossier Parish Community College (Associate)
Delgado Community College (Associate)
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (Baccalaureate)
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center - Shreveport (Baccalaureate)
Nicholls State University (Associate, Certificate, Baccalaureate)
Our Lady of Holy Cross/Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation (Associate)
Southern University at Shreveport (Associate)
Berkshire Community College (Associate)
Massasoit Community College (Associate)
North Shore Community College (Associate)
Northeastern University (Baccalaureate)
Northern Essex Community College (Associate)
Quinsigamond Community College (Associate)
Springfield Technical Community College (Associate)
Allegany College of Maryland (Associate)
Baltimore City Community College (Associate)
Columbia Union College (Associate, Baccalaureate)
Community College of Baltimore County - Essex Campus (Associate)
Frederick Community College (Associate)
Prince George's Community College (Associate)
Salisbury University (Associate)
Kennebec Valley Community College (Associate)
Southern Maine Community College (Associate)

Charles Stewart Mott Community College (Associate)
Delta College (Associate)
Ferris State University (Associate)
Henry Ford Community College (Associate)
Kalamazoo Valley Community College (Associate)
Macomb Community College (Associate)
Monroe County Community College (Associate)
Muskegon Community College (Associate)
Oakland Community College-Southfield (Associate)

College of St Catherine (Baccalaureate)
Lake Superior College (Associate)
Northland Community and Technical College (Associate)
St Paul Technical College (Associate)
University of Minnesota/Mayo Clinic, College of Medicine (Baccalaureate)
Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center (Associate)
ConCorde Career College-Kansas City (Associate, Certificate)
Hannibal Career & Technology Center/Hannibal LaGrange College (Associate)
Missouri Southern State College (Associate)
Missouri State University-West Plains (Associate)
Ozarks Technical Community College (Associate)
Rolla Technical Center (Associate)
St Louis Community College-St. Louis (Associate)
University of Missouri-Columbia (Baccalaureate)


Coahoma Community College (Associate)
Copiah - Lincoln Community College (Associate)
Hinds Community College - Raymond (Associate)
Itawamba Community College (Associate)
Meridian Community College (Associate)
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Associate)
Northeast Mississippi Community College (Associate)
Northwest Mississippi Community College (Associate)
 ● Pearl River Community College (Associate)

Montana State University College of Tech (Associate)
University of Montana (Associate)
North Carolina
Carteret Community College (Associate)
Catawba Valley Community College (Associate)
Central Piedmont Community College (Associate)
Durham Technical Community College (Associate)
Edgecombe Community College (Associate)
Fayetteville Technical Community College (Associate)
Forsyth Technical Community College (Associate)
Pitt Community College (Associate)
Robeson Community College (Associate)
Rockingham Community College (Associate)
Sandhills Community College (Associate)
Southwestern Community College-Sylva (Associate)
Stanly Community College (Associate)

North Dakota
North Dakota State University (Baccalaureate)
St Alexius Medical Center/University of Mary (Associate)
Alegent Health (Baccalaureate)
Metropolitan Community College - Omaha (Associate)
Nebraska Methodist College (Associate, Baccalaureate)
Southeast Community College (Associate)
New Hampshire
River Valley Community College (Associate)

New Jersey
Bergen Community College (Associate)
Brookdale Community College (Associate)
Northwest NJ Consortium Respiratory Care Education (Associate)
University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey-North (Associate)
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Stratford (South) (Associate)
New Mexico
Central New Mexico Community College (Associate)
Dona Ana Community College (Associate)
Eastern New Mexico University (Associate)

Community College of Southern Nevada (Associate)
Pima Medical Institute-Las Vegas (Associate)

New York
CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College (Certificate, Associate)
Erie Community College - North Campus (Associate)
Genesee Community College (Associate)
Hudson Valley Community College (Associate)
Long Island University (Baccalaureate)
Mohawk Valley Community College (Associate)
Molloy College (Associate)
Nassau Community College (Associate)
Onondaga Community College (Associate)
Stony Brook University (Baccalaureate)
SUNY Upstate Medical University (Baccalaureate)
Westchester Community College (Associate)
Bowling Green State University (Associate)
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College (Associate)
Collins Career Center - Chesapeake (Associate)
Columbus State Community College (Associate)
Cuyahoga Community College (Associate)
James A. Rhodes State College (Associate)
Jefferson Community and Technical College (Associate)
Kettering College of Medical Arts (Associate)
Lakeland Community College (Associate)
North Central State College (Associate)
Ohio State University (Baccalaureate)
Shawnee State University (Associate)
Sinclair Community College (Associate)
Stark State College of Technology (Associate)
University of Akron (Associate)
University of Toledo (Associate, Baccalaureate)
Washington State Community College (Associate)
Youngstown State University (Baccalaureate)

Francis Tuttle Vocational Technical Center (Associate)
Northwest Oklahoma Respiratory Care Consortium (Associate)
Rose State College (Associate)
Tulsa Community College (Associate)
● Lane Community College (Associate)
Mt Hood Community College (Associate)
Oregon Institute of Technology (Associate)

Community College of Allegheny County- Allegheny Campus (Associate)
Community College of Philadelphia (Associate)
Delaware County Community College/Crozer-Chester Med Center (Associate)
Gannon University (Associate, Baccalaureate)
Gwynedd-Mercy College (Associate)
Harrisburg Area Community College-Harrisburg Campus (Associate)
Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Baccalaureate)
Luzerne County Community College (Associate)
Mansfield University (Associate)
Millersville University of Pennsylvania (Baccalaureate)
Reading Area Community College (Associate)
Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology (Associate)
University of Pittsburgh - Johnstown (Associate)
West Chester University (Baccalaureate)
Western School of Health and Business Careers-Pittsburgh (Associate)
York College of Pennsylvania (Associate, Baccalaureate)
Rhode Island
Community College of Rhode Island (Associate)

South Carolina
Florence-Darlington Technical College (Associate)
Greenville Technical College (Associate)
Midlands Technical College (Associate)
Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College (Associate)
Piedmont Technical College (Associate)
Spartanburg Community College (Associate)
Tri-County Technical College (Associate)
Trident Technical College (Associate)
South Dakota
Dakota State University (Associate, Baccalaureate)
Baptist Memorial College of Health Science (Baccalaureate)
Chattanooga State Technical Community College (Associate)
Columbia State Community College (Associate)
ConCorde Career College-Memphis (Associate, Certificate)
East Tennessee State University (Baccalaureate)
Jackson State Community College (Associate)
Roane State Community College (Associate)
Tennessee State University (Associate)
Volunteer State Community College (Associate)
Alvin Community College (Associate)
Amarillo College (Associate)
Angelina College (Associate)
Collin County Community College District (Associate)
Del Mar College (Associate)
El Centro College (Associate)
El Paso Community College (Associate)
Houston Community College System (Associate, Baccalaureate)
Howard College - San Angelo (Associate)
Kingwood College - NHMCCD (Associate)
Lamar Institute of Technology-Beaumont (Associate)
McLennan Community College (Associate)
Midland College (Associate)
Midwestern State University (Baccalaureate)
San Jacinto College (Associate)
South Plains College (Associate)
St Philip's College (Associate)
Tarrant County College (Associate)
Temple College (Associate)
Texas Southern University (Baccalaureate)
Texas State University-San Marcos (Associate, Baccalaureate)
Tyler Junior College (Associate)
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (Baccalaureate)
University of Texas Medical Branch (Baccalaureate)
University of Texas-Brownsville and Texas Southmost College (Associate)
Victoria College (Associate)
Weatherford College (Associate)
California College for Health Sciences-Independence University (Associate)
Stevens Henager College-Murray (Associate)
Weber State University (Associate, Baccalaureate)

Central Virginia Community College (Associate)
J Sargeant Reynolds Community College (Associate)
Jefferson College of Health Sciences (Associate)
Mountain Empire Community College (Associate)
Northern Virginia Community College (Certificate, Associate)
● Shenandoah University (Associate, Baccalaureate)
Southwest Virginia Community College (Associate)
Tidewater Community College (Associate)

Vermont Technical College (Associate)
Highline Community College (Associate)
Seattle Central Community College (Associate)
Spokane Community College (Associate)
Tacoma Community College (Associate)

Chippewa Valley Technical College (Diploma, Associate)
Madison Area Technical College (Associate)
Mid-State Technical College (Associate)
Milwaukee Area Technical College (Associate)
Moraine Park Technical College (Associate)
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (Associate)
Western Technical College (Associate)

West Virginia
Carver Career & Tech Education Center (Associate)
Mountain State University (Associate)
West Virginia Northern Community College (Associate)
Wheeling Jesuit University (Baccalaureate)

Casper College (Associate)

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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