Respiratory Therapy Degree


A student who earns a respiratory therapy degree can pursue a career as a respiratory therapist (RT) – a career that is expected to grow twenty-two percent between 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Learn more about earning this degree and what’s all required to be an RT.

Requirements for Respiratory Therapists


For this career, candidates usually complete a formal training program at an accredited school. This program is usually a 2-year associate degree. Although some RTs have bachelor’s degree, most just complete associate degrees and obtain sufficient work experience.

In addition to completing the required training program, graduates must earn certification and/or pass a licensing examination before they can work in that state. Once the candidate has a license, he or she can work in that state in a hospital, clinic, outpatient center or any other healthcare facility. Some also choose to work at jobs where they travel to patients’ homes.

What Classes are in Respiratory Therapist’s Program?


Aspiring RTss must complete a variety of classes. Some of the classes are general education while the majorities are medical classes related to respiratory therapy. Typical courses for this program include cardiac anatomy and physiology, critical care techniques, pulmonary anatomy and physiology, emergency care, respiratory pediatrics, patient assessment and medical terminology.

In addition to completing courses and lab studies, the student must complete a supervised externship working in the RT department of a hospital. The externship provides students with necessary hands-on experience working with patients. At the end of the program, the student takes a review course to help prepare him or her for the certification exam.

What about Licensure/Certification


In all states but Alaska, RTs are required to be licensed. In most states, getting licensed requires passing a state or national certification exam, although each state may vary in their requirements. Candidates are advised to check with their local state board for training and licensing requirements.

Students can choose from two certifications: Certified Respiratory Therapist or Registered Respiratory Therapist. The CRT exam must be taken and passed before the individual can take the RRT exam.

Both of these credential can be earned through the National Board for Respiratory Care. To be able to take the certification exam, the applicant must show proof that he or she is 18 years old and has graduated from an accredited program designed for RTs.