Over 300 accredited respiratory therapist programs are available through schools in the United States. Most are accredited by the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (COARC).
COARC accreditation goes to three progressive certifications in the United States. Their mission is to “provide quality education programs to prepare competent respiratory therapists for practice, education, research and service.” Accreditation operates to assure students that the respiratory therapy program they enter meets the requirements of the profession. They will learn to work with trauma and drowning victims, newborns, and individuals experiencing heart and lung conditions. COARC accreditation also enables potential employers to seek candidates that they know are certified, with thorough training to assist those in need of their help.
Certified respiratory therapists graduating from COARC accredited programs are required to have earned a minimum of an associate’s degree. Coursework includes classes in biology, anatomy, physiology and chemistry. Clinical experience is stressed. Students use actual respiratory therapy techniques on patients while under the supervision of a licensed respiratory therapist. Most states have licensing requirements for respiratory therapists that include examinations and background checks. Upon successful completion of all requirements, they become a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT). One can begin as a CRT and their certification to a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). Many employers hiring CRTs require them to advance their certification to RRT within a certain time after hiring. These advanced therapy technicians are highly sought by employers and paid accordingly.
Where does a CRT work?
Because of the aging of baby boomers coupled with their retirement, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over 22,000 new positions for respiratory therapists are expected to be available through the end of this decade. That’s very promising. They reported a median salary of $55,870. Most respiratory therapists work in hospital and clinic settings. Given the high incidence of chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder with seniors, many are employed at skilled care facilities. Also in the context of seniors, respiratory therapists will work through home health care providers. Specialties in respiratory therapy can also be considered after CRT and RRT certification. These can include neonatal and pediatric care and sleep disorders. The future is bright for respiratory therapists, and the career will take a person as far as they wish to go in it.